Report card for singing actors

-- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:10 AM ET

Paris Hilton's 15 minutes of fame were up a long time ago, but that didn't stop the hotel heiress from stretching it out a bit longer by releasing an album titled (what else?) Paris.

And it's not really a bad album. At least, not compared to the terrible singing and fame-whoring going on over at Fox's Celebrity Duets.

If Hilton can release an album and if Cheech Marin can sing a country song on primetime television with Randy Travis, what's to stop other, higher profile stars from showing off their pipes?

Unfortunately, in today's five-second-soundbite-mass-media-24-hour-reality-television-celebrity-obsessed world, nothing.

Read on to find out which celebrities we think have a chance at a Grammy and which efforts are bound for the discount bin long before the superstar producers are brought in to rework the album.

THE BEST:

Nicolas Cage

It's common knowledge Cage is a HUGE Elvis Presley fan and also loves to karaoke.

- Album title: I am Elvis, Elvis is me

- Genre: Presley's entire catalogue of hits.

- Potential covers: Anything Elvis ever sang

- Critical response: Universally panned by critics, fans embrace him and he gives up movies to sing full time.

- Duet partner: His ex, Lisa Marie Presley, gamely plays along on a remake of You're the Boss from Viva Las Vegas.

James Marsters

This former Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor, who played vamp Spike, is also a sensitive rocker with his own band (really!), but we're still waiting for the album.

- Album title: Bloody Awful Poets Society

- Genre: Sensitive singer-songwriter material.

- Potential covers: Once Bitten Twice Shy

- Critical response: Not realizing Marsters isn't British, they critique his poor attempt at an American accent.

- Duet partner: What's Buffy's Watcher, Giles doing now?

Zooey Deschanel

This feisty little actress gained fame in Almost Famous, but she didn't show off her pipes until she starred as a sarcastic department store elf in Elf.

We'd like to hear more, especially since Deschanel has admitted her love for karaoke. She even grabbed a mic at Ducky's Pub in Calgary while filming a role in Brad Pitt's western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

- Album title: Zooey Sings

- Genre: Standards

- Potential covers: Come On-a My House by Rosemary Clooney

- Critical response: They love her! They really, really love her!

She goes on to collect not only Oscars, but Grammys as well.

- Duet partner: Her Elf co-star, Will Ferrell, reprises his role as her duet partner on Baby It's Cold Outside.

Amy Poehler

Tired of her gig as fake news anchor on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update, Poehler takes to the stage.

- Album title: Live from Las Vegas It's Saturday Night!

- Genre: Live recording from her kitschy cabaret act.

- Potential covers: Barry Manilow's Copacabana.

- Critical response: Critics rave about her ability to disappear in her role as a lounge singer.

- Duet partner: Her hubby, Will Arnett, who played GOB Bluth on Arrested Development.

Natalie Portman

The actress spoofed celebrities who sing with a hardcore gangsta rap song and video on Saturday Night Live in which she got down and dirty with explicit lyrics and mentions of drug use.

But once you go rap, you never go back and she goes on to become a respected female rapper, even shaving her head again to "keep it real."

- Album title: Feudin' and Fightin'

- Genre: Gangsta rap

- Potential covers: Damn It Feels Good To Be a Gangsta by the Geto Boys.

- Critical response: Puzzled about her genre choice, critics slam her, but she quickly puts out a response album called Hatahs Get Played.

- Duet partner: 50 Cent

THE WORST:

Tom Cruise

Eager to dispell the notion that he "doesn't get it," Cruise releases an album designed to make fun of himself, featuring heavy metal songs remade into easy-listenin' tunes.

- Album title: Jump!

- Genre: Smooth jazz versions of metal songs

- Potential covers: Ozzy Osbourne's Crazy Train

- Critical response: Surprisingly, critics love it and many reviews contain the phrase "If you buy one album by a crazy celebrity this year, make it this one."

- Duet partner: Katie Holmes meekly croons along with Cruise on a cover of Metallica's Master of Puppets.

Samuel L. Jackson

- Album title: Snakes on a Soul Plane

- Genre: Soul, R&B

- Potential covers: Sssssssexual Healing

- Critical response: Critics are mixed. Some think he's taken the snake thing a little too far. Others welcome an artist who doesn't take himself too seriously.

- Duet partner: Various and sundry serpents, including a 20-ft. python named Bernice.

Martha Stewart

Everybody's favourite jailbird becomes a songbird, embracing her softer side for some quiet, reflective folk.

- Album title: Good Things

- Genre: Acoustic folk

- Potential covers: Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

- Critical response: Critics are impressed with Martha's ability to make all her own instruments.

- Duet partner: The Donald records some spoken word for Martha's Leonard Cohen-esque single Bite the Doily.

Mel Gibson

During his stint in rehab, The Passion of the Christ director gets back to doing what's important: God's work.

- Album title: The Gospel According to Mel

- Genre: Secular songs with an inspirational tilt

- Potential covers: George Michael's Faith

- Critical response: Everyone hates it. Even God, who issues a curt review: "Worst. Album. Ever."

- Duet partner: The Holy Spirit (who, honestly, sounds a little pitchy.)


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