"Remember This?" is a recurring feature on HuffPost Entertainment, resurrecting pop-cultural artifacts that haven't enjoyed the spotlight for quite some time. Today, Mike Ryan writes about Bruce Willis' short-lived music career. If there's a topic you want us to cover, let us know in the comments.
It always made sense to me when musicians turned to acting. It seems like the natural progression of things. (Of course Justin Timberlake wants to be a movie star.) Conversely, I always find it odd when an established movie star wants to sing. There's a certain perception of arrogance -- I can do anything! -- that, more often than not, comes back to haunt any actor who expresses her or his musical aspirations. Sure, someone like Jamie Foxx has had considerable success (I still think it's still weird), but for every Foxx, there are many more Eddie Murphys and Don Johnsons ... and, yes, Bruce Willises.
As a society, we love Bruce Willis (even if his current film, A Good Day To Die Hard, is going to test that love a bit), which is why, as a society, we have conveniently forgotten Willis' foray into the recording industry. In 1987, Willis was a year away from true international stardom with Die Hard, but he was still an extremely popular man due to his work on the television show Moonlighting. That was the year he released his album, The Return of Bruno.
The Return of Bruno was sort of a combination of Jake and Elwood Blues mixed with Chris Gaines, the "character" Garth Brooks played when he didn't feel like playing country. You see, it wasn't Bruce Willis singing; it was his alter ego, a blues singer named Bruno Radolini. And, yes, there was even a fake HBO documentary that was made in support of the album. Behold,
Bruce Willis Bruno Radolini singing "Respect Yourself," which actually made it to No. 5 on the U.S. charts. (No one sings into a broom handle quite like Bruce Willis.)
In this video, Dick Clark introduces a down-and-out Bruno, who is now selling Corvettes. Eventually, we are shown a clip from "1971" that shows Bruno singing "Under the Boardwalk" with The Temptations.
Oh, and Moonlighting certainly wasn't immune to a Bruce Willis musical performance. Here he is signing "Good Lovin'" in the "Atomic Shakespeare" episode.
Around the time The Return of Bruno came out, Willis inked a deal with Seagram's Golden Wine Coolers, which would result in a series of commercials that, 26 years later, are infinitely re-watchable, in a "I can't believe any of this happened" sort of way. You see, in this commercial, instead of singing into a broom handle, Willis is singing into a bottle of Seagram's Golden Wine Cooler. (One of my top-10 favorite sounds of all time is when Willis reaches the "my, my, my, my" part of the Seagram's song.)
I mean, who wouldn't want to hang out with Bruce and the boys on that porch while singing and drinking wine coolers? Willis doesn't sing in the following commercial, but there's no way I could resist posting it. There's no way I could selfishly keep the joy of watching Willis skip down a sidewalk while wearing a white suit to myself. Honestly, is there anything better than the moment at :47, when Willis signals for four wine coolers?
Sadly for the fans of Willis' musical stylings, he would, let's say, deemphasize this aspect of his career once Die Hard grossed $140 million worldwide. Although he did release a follow-up album in 1989 titled If It Don't Kill You, It Just Makes You Stronger. The artist listed on this album is "Bruce Willis," so it appears the whole Bruno character had been dropped. Here is a song from that album titled "Turn It Up (A Little Louder)." (For the record, I would advise against turning this one up a little louder, especially since this song begins with a coughing noise for some reason.)
For better or worse, beyond a live performance here and there (and there are quite a few of them on YouTube -- mostly from Planet Hollywood openings), Bruno Radolini was gone forever.
I was in junior high school when most of this was going on and I remember, even then, that it just seemed ... weird. I mean, the Bruce Willis from Moonlighting was cool. Bruce Willis earnestly trying to have a music career did not seem cool. On television, he was the too-smart-for-his-own-good, wisecracking leading man on a self-aware show. Moonlighting's David Addison was basically Community's Jeff Winger. Now, imagine if Joel McHale all of a sudden wanted us to buy his blues album. We have forgotten about Bruno for a reason -- so, yes, I'm sorry for bringing it up.
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.
Die Hard Trailer (1988)
Pulp Fiction Movie Trailer - watch all clips j.mp click to subscribe j.mp Hit men, gangsters and robbers converge in Quentin Tarantino's violent tale of revenge. Stars John Travolta Samuel L. Jackson Bruce Willis and Uma Thurman TM & © Miramax Films (2012) Cast: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Eric Stoltz, Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, Maria de Medeiros, Rosanna Arquette, Uma Thurman, Christopher Walken, Kathy Griffin, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel Director: Quentin Tarantino MOVIECLIPS YouTube Channel: j.mp Join our Facebook page: j.mp Follow us on Twitter: j.mp Buy Movie: amzn.to Producer: Lawrence Bender, Danny DeVito, Richard N. Gladstein, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein Screenwriter: Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary Film Description: Outrageously violent, time-twisting, and in love with language, Pulp Fiction was widely considered the most influential American movie of the 1990s. Director and co-screenwriter Quentin Tarantino synthesized such seemingly disparate traditions as the syncopated language of David Mamet; the serious violence of American gangster movies, crime movies, and films noirs mixed up with the wacky violence of cartoons, video games, and Japanese animation; and the fragmented story-telling structures of such experimental classics as Citizen Kane, Rashomon, and La jetée. The Oscar-winning script by Tarantino and Roger Avary intertwines three stories, featuring Samuel L. Jackson and John ...
One of the most talked about and hyped films on the last year of the previous millenium, which introduced director M. Night Shyamalan and actor Haley Joel Osment to the world. Malcom Crowe is a child psychologist who receives an award on the same night that he is visited by a very unhappy ex-patient. After this encounter, Crowe takes on the task of curing a young boy with the same ills as the ex-patient. This boy "sees dead people". Crowe spends a lot of time with the boy (Cole) much to the dismay of his wife. Cole's mom is at her wit's end with what to do about her son's increasing problems. Crowe is the boy's only hope. Released on 1990 Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan Starring: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette
Release Date: April 1, 2005 Robert Rodriguez ("Spy Kids," "Once Upon a Time in Mexico") and comic book icon Frank Miller co-direct "Sin City," based on the series of graphic novels created, written, and illustrated by Miller. "Sin City" is infested with criminals, crooked cops and sexy dames, some searching for vengeance, some for redemption and others, both. The film incorporates storylines from three of Miller's graphic novels including 'Sin City,' which launched the long-running, critically acclaimed series, as well as 'That Yellow Bastard' and 'The Big Fat Kill.' Rodriguez, along with Miller, translated these legendary stories from page to screen by remaining absolutely faithful to the look, feel and dialogue of the books. "Sin City" stars Bruce Willis as Hartigan, a cop with a bum ticker and a vow to protect stripper Nancy (Jessica Alba); Mickey Rourke as Marv, the outcast misanthrope on a mission to avenge the death of his one true love, Goldie (Jaime King), and Clive Owen as Dwight, the clandestine love of Shelley (Brittany Murphy), who spends his nights defending Gail (Rosario Dawson) and her Old Towne girls (Devon Aoki and Alexis Bledel) from Jackie Boy (Benicio Del Toro), a dirty cop with a penchant for violence. Cast: Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Jaime King, Clive Owen, Brittany Murphy, Rosario Dawson, Devon Aoki, Alexis Bledel, Benicio Del Toro, Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnett, Marley Shelton, Carla Gugino, Nick Stahl, Michael Clarke Duncan, Michael ...
Subscribe to TRAILERS: bit.ly Subscribe to COMING SOON: bit.ly Moonrise Kingdom Official Trailer #1 - Wes Anderson Movie (2012) HD Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, MOONRISE KINGDOM tells the story of two twelve-year-olds who fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As various authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing off-shore -- and the peaceful island community is turned upside down in more ways than anyone can handle. Bruce Willis plays the local sheriff. Edward Norton is a Khaki Scout troop leader. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand portray the young girl's parents. The cast also includes Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as the boy and girl. "Moonrise Kingdom" "Moonrise Kingdom trailer" "Moonrise Kingdom HD" "Moonrise Kingdom movie" "Edward Norton" "Bruce Willis" "Bill Murray" "Frances McDormand" "Tilda Swinton" "Jason Schwartzman" "Jared Gilman" "Kara Hayward" "Wes Anderson" "Roman Coppola" movieclips movie clips movieclipsDOTcom popuptrailer
Follow Mike Ryan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mikeryan