Scarlett Johansson Should Stick to Acting, Avoid Singing

Chabeli Sanchez

There is nothing worse than an actor turned musician. Russell Crowe (“Gladiator,” 2000) did it with his horrific pub rock band, “30 Odd Foot of Grunts” (1992) and everyone heard the disastrous single “Higher” (2007) from “Hills” reality star Heidi Montag. Scarlett Johansson (“The Other Boleyn Girl,” 2008) can now be added to the list with her debut album, “Anywhere I Lay My Head.”

There are few actors turned musicians who have had great success. Hilary Duff (“Metamorphosis,” 2003) is an exception. What she has is a talent and a knack for singing. Duff started out as a Disney channel television star and was transformed into a movie star as well as an amazing recording artist. However, Johansson should only approach a microphone when presenting an Oscar or when reading lines of a script, never to sing.

Johansson has a very manly and raspy voice to begin with, and some would think that her voice would transform on a record into a very cool and funky sound. However, in this case, she sounds even more like a man, and a drunken one at that. Listening to the album made me question the fact that Johansson was actually a girl. Yes, she is biologically a girl, but sadly on this album she sounds more and more like a man.

Before announcing two years ago that she would record an album, Johansson dipped her feet into music, with moderate results. She sang, “Brass in Pocket” from her movie “Lost in Translation,” which was all right, but nothing to write home about. She also did backing vocals on “Just Like Honey” on stage with The Jesus and Mary Chain (“Psychocandy,” 1985) at last year’s Coachella festival, though her [movie] star value outshined the quality of her voice.

Johansson recruited producer Dave Sitek from TV on the Radio and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (“Show Your Bones,’ 2006), band member/guitarist Nick Zinner to help create her album. David Bowie (“Reality,” 2003) also helped with the production of this album and also appears as backing vocals for Johansson. Bowie and Johansson are friends, which seems odd, since friends shouldn’t let friends make idiots out of themselves. This would have been a great time for Bowie to speak up.

The album consists of 10 cover versions of the legendary Tom Waits (“Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards,” 2006) songs and one original song from Johansson titled, “Song for Jo.” The song consists of acoustic guitar strums and an ambient orchestra playing in the background, and let’s not forget the manly vocals delivered by Johansson.

Each song on the album is filled with a vast variety of sounds. Many tracks are filled with the hum of dark subways, and the buzzing of power lines. However, all of this background noise cannot mask the voice of a drunken girl/boy performing karaoke.

I wish I could dissect each and every track and review it, but the truth is, I could barely stand listening to more than a minute of each track. It was unbearably horrific. The entire album sounded like one long depressed monotone track performed by a drag queen.

Praising Johansson’s work on this mess of an album, as many critics are doing, is surprising. Number one, they need to seriously get their ears checked or they are listening to some other album out there, because this is nothing to be praised.

Secondly, Waits is one of the best contemporary songwriters around, and mentioning Johansson and Waits in the same sentence is appalling.

Johansson is a silver screen princess with lots of cash to throw around, so it is not surprising she chose to make an album. However, not everyone on this planet can sing, Fox’s hit show; “American Idol” proves that week after week. But electronically altering a pretty faced girl’s manly voice does not make her worthy of singing Waits covers.

Johansson can act, and she is smoking hot. That was all made evident in her performance in “Lost in Translation,” but sing, she cannot. Lindsay Lohan (“Speak,” 2004) and J-LO (“On the 6,” 1999) made better albums than Johansson, which is not saying much.

Released: May 20
Price: $ 12.99

Rating 1 out of 4 stars, just because David Bowie took part.