Top 10 Strange Celebrity Music Video Cameos

July 31, 2012 | Lists

A question everyone on this list should have asked.

Music videos can be painful to watch. After all, how many different ways are there to film some guy straddling a chair and emoting? The concert scenes in them seem contrived – no actual crowd is going to be as full of joy as a bunch of people getting a free lunch when they yell “cut”. And then there’s the rappers doing everything short of horse-whipping their investment advisers to flaunt their fabulous wealth and the other genre clichés – running in the rain, flashbacks, bad dance numbers and vintage cars.

Music videos demand novelty to stay fresh and celebrities are often brought in to help mix things up and perhaps make up for a performer’s complete inability to act even when the role consists mostly of lip-synching one’s own lyrics and gyrating expectantly in the general direction of a potential romantic conquest. Some of these cameos work well – Danny Aiello in Papa Don’t Preach seemed like the kind of guy who would genuinely object to having an 80s version of Madonna as his daughter and might want to pontificate on the subject – And then there’s these,  the Top 10 Strange Celebrity Music Videos Cameos:

10. Gheorghe Muresan in Eminem’s My Name Is…

Retired 7’7 NBA player Gheorghe Muresan’s greatest claim to fame, besides dunking a basketball without needing to jump, is starring alongside Billy Crystal in “My Giant”, playing the titular character who Crystal based on Andre The Giant.  The precious few parts calling for a man tall enough to extract bird’s nests from tree tops with his teeth has kept the Transylvanian from appearing in too many other Hollywood roles.

However, Muresan did make a return to public prominence in Eminem’s breakout video “My Name Is”. He appears as one half of a ventriloquist act — and not as the dummy (ain’t nobody got a hand that big).

9. William S. Burroughs in U2’s Last Night on Earth

Bono has never been one to shy from putting his lips to the posteriors of his artistic betters — see Cash, Bukowski, Dylan  — and he does so again here by including William S. Burroughs in this video.

The man who wrote Naked Lunch and who inspired the likes of Jack Kerouac and Ken Kesey somehow found himself in a video for a song by a guy so hungry for photo-ops he carries around jars of lens cleaner for cameramen.

The title of this song was a little too appropriate, however, as this video was the last appearance Burroughs made, dying shortly after it was filmed.

8. Big Show in Sisqo and Foxy Brown’s Thong Song

In a song in which women at nightclubs are advised to put their “drinks down” and pull their “thongs up”, probably the last guy you want to see is someone promoted as the “world’s largest athlete”, who could list “being able to provide shade for a family of four” on his resume.

Mercifully he is not pictured in the garment that inspired this tune and if you blink you’ll miss him. In order to prevent any unnecessary exposure to that song, we’ve pictured him here.

Dishonorable Mention: Penn & Teller in Run DMC’s It’s Tricky

Penn & Teller are a noted physically asymmetrical magician duo, one giant and lumbering and another you wouldn’t want making  a deposition on your behalf if you faced years in the slammer.

The duo appear as Three-Card Monte tricksters, a card game known to separate tourists from the contents of their wallets (it’s tricky, a card trick, get it? The duo weren’t conscripted as eye candy or for their street cred).

7. Larry Bird in Toby Keith’s Red Solo Cup

Keith called this tune, an ode to a plastic drinking cup  “the stupidest song that I have ever heard in my life”. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t have a songwriter credit for it, though the people who do are likely to be happy to cash his checks regardless of his sass.

A number of celebrities make appearances in the video, including Craig Ferguson, Sammy Hagar and Ted Nugent shooting said cup with a crossbow, but it’s the appearance of the worst-nicknamed NBA player in the history of the game — “The Hick from French Lick” — that surprises here. Larry Bird, not exactly an MTV mainstay during his career let alone years after retirement, comes in at 3.23 to spin the red cup on his finger and give a “What the hell is going on, fellas?” grin.

Mr Keith is becoming a Shark Guys regular after having been previously featured in our Worst Songs by Tall Musicians list (going alphabetically several worthy candidates arose before we reached “R”).

Angelina Jolie in a Meatloaf video6. Angelina Jolie in Meatloaf’s Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through

If you’re a young Angelina Jolie hitting the hobo trail, you probably wouldn’t want to run into a heavy, ballad singing guy in a do-rag named Meatloaf, but that’s what happens in this bizarre early appearance of the future Lara Croft.

Jolie is a teenage runaway in the video and as creepy as the accompanying image here looks, Meatloaf is actually trying to help her, not get her back to his tinted window van for some Southern Comfort and both Bat Out of Hell records played back to back. By the video’s end she returns to her parents, though unfortunately Jon Voigt is not involved.

The video was directed by no less than Michael Bay, who like many a young director was forced to do artistic penance by making music videos before being able to truly explore his craft in films such as the Transformers franchise and that one with Ben Affleck in a spacesuit.

5. Don King in Michael Jackson’s Liberian Girl

This entire list could have centered around this one video, a 1989 cavalcade of weird celebrity cameos, featuring anyone even remotely recognizable at that time from the girl in Blossom to Paula Abdul.

We chose three that were the most jarring of them all: Lou Ferrigno (in it inexplicably for all of a second), John Travolta (playing his Grease role years after the fact) and boxing mogul and part-time murderer Don King.

Mr King won because he was inserted for no reason that we can fathom to make a cheap joke about his hair at the 2.15 mark.

4. Mark Cuban in Dorrough’s Get Big

Mark Cuban is the guy on the venture capital reality show The Shark Tank (no relation) who makes the other guys on the panel except for Kevin O’Leary look like Dickensian paupers and by outbidding them for every decent entrepreneurial idea that comes down the pike.

Cuban is the outspoken (outspoken being our favorite euphemism for asshole) owner of the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks and appears in Dallas-area rapper Dorrough’s video for Get Big. At the 0:45 mark Cuban  pops out of an armored car, which maybe rich people need to do during these tough economic times to keep from getting pummeled.

“Get Big” did not, really, peaking at 109 on the Billboard Top 200 Singles Charts.

3. Hulk Hogan in Dolly Parton’s Headlock on My Heart 

Professional wrestling has made some stellar contributions to the music industry, such as Captain Lou Albano’s cameo in the video for Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and the inimitable country stylings of a former wrestler once known as Kamala, the Ugandan Headhunter (and not the kind who recruits top executive talent).

There have also been some disasters — see the “We Are the World” in tights that is the 1980s World Wrestling Federation cover of the execrable novelty hit by Cannibal and the Headhunters “Land of 1000 Dances“.

“Headlock on My Heart” was written by Dolly Parton, presumably an attempt on her part to cash in on the immense popularity of pro wrestling and specifically Hulk Hogan during the 1980s. That she didn’t know a thing about pro wrestling is clear with the name she gives Hogan in this, “Starlight, Starbright”, quite possibly the worst wrestling moniker that has ever been conceived. But the video is a joy to watch, beginning as it does with our fellow Ontarian “Iron” Mike Sharpe getting his ass handed to him by Hogan and ending with Dolly declaring, “In this ring, I thee wed.”

John Cusack in music video2. John Cusack in Suicidal Tendencies’ Trip at the Brain

The guy going off to war while his girlfriend tearfully chucks a wine glass into the fireplace after seeing him off is a well-worn video cliché. Jingoistic croon-fests though, rarely feature the military rank about which Abraham Lincoln once said: “I can make more generals, but horses cost money”.

John Cusack is a pretty damn good actor, and at the time before his career was in full swing, probably came cheap. The future star of The Grifters and Grosse Point Blank, has been quoted as saying,  “I’ve made 10 good films. The ones that suck, I tend to blank out. It’s like I never even made them.” This statement can likely be extrapolated to music videos and his turn as an angry general in Suicidal Tendencies’ Trip at the Brain.

1. Milton Berle in Ratt’s Round and Round

At the age of five Milton Berle began a career that has spanned vaudeville, silent film, the advent of radio and finally television, a medium he dominated — literally, as the only thing on the other available channel was a test of the emergency broadcast system.

One job that undoubtedly escaped mention in his obit, was his cameo in Ratt’s Round and Round. Had it not been for a familial connection — his nephew managed the band and refusing him probably would have put a pall over family gatherings — it’s unlikely that the band would have had their calls returned let alone had Uncle Miltie star in their video. This 1984 tune by Ratt (a near universal law of rock music: a band is likely to stink if their name is misspelled), featured Uncle Miltie and yet among his countless Walk of Fame accomplishments, it’s not even mentioned on his Wikipedia page (though tellingly, appearances in The Nanny and on Beverley Hills 90210 are).

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Comments

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  1. You missed Jake Gyllenhaal beating up hipsters in The Shoes’ Time To Dance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pt9wnawn7xQ

    Reply

  2. And exactly when did that MeatLoaf video come out?  Don’t know for sure, but I have it on a VHS (yes, that’s right, a videocassette) that I bought back in the 1990s.  The song itself appears on MeatLoaf’s “Bat Out Of Hell II” album, which was released in 1993; the video itself was made in 1994.

    At that time, Jolie was a 20-year-old nobody (don’t believe me? Check her IMDb listing; the only things she had done up to that time were a TV appearance, a couple of shorts, and a direct-to-video sequel of “Cyborg”) who had not yet hit it big.  It would be another five years before she appeared in “Pushing Tin”, and it wasn’t until 2001 — seven years after the Meat Loaf video — that she landing her breakout role as “Lara Croft”.  Same thing with Michael Bay.  He had done nothing of significance other than videos, including a Playboy video centerfold shoot, before directing “Rock and Roll Dreams”.

    So get your facts straight; neither of these people were inexplicably slumming when they did this video.  Sure, Jolie and Bay are above something like this now, but that wasn’t always the case.  Everybody has to start from somewhere.

    Reply

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