More often than not, television and music blend to form a perfect union, complementing each other in every respect. With a vast amount of incredible examples — like Radiohead’s hilarious guest appearance on South Park, or Paul McCartney’s surprise 30 Rock cameo — the marriage of the two mediums almost seems foolproof. But this isn’t always the case. There are several grim reminders, cringe-worthy enough to make you wonder what kind of television executive or band manager would ever give the green light. Here are 10 terrible television/music crossovers that should have never happened in the first place.
10. Beyoncé Stars in The Famous Jett Jackson
Before Jay Z “put a ring on it,” Beyonce shared an onscreen semi-romance with the titular character of the Disney Channel Original TV series, The Famout Jett Jackson. If you’re unfamiliar with the inception style show-within-a-show premise for the television series, it stars a teenage television actor who lands the role of a main character in a futuristic spy show and has each episode filmed in his sleepy, rural hometown, Wilstead, North Carolina. Destiny’s child makes a cringe-filled guest appearance in Jett Jackson’s television show, and then Beyoncé makes an equally cringe-filled guest appearance in Jackson’s personal life. The young actor slowly starts to fall for Beyoncé after spending so much time with her (The show blatantly ignores the other members of Destiny’s Child altogether) and fires an onslaught of awkward teenage flirtation towards the future pop icon. After a few ridiculous moments — such as Jett Jackson’s high school English teacher telling Beyoncé his literary interpretations of her lyrics — the singer has to leave Jett Jackson’s small town and head back to her real life of stardom. Before Beyoncé parts ways, she makes sure to completely friend-zone Jett Jackson by kissing him on the cheek and telling him, “You’ll always be my little brother down in Wilstead!”
9. Justin Bieber Gets Shot on CSI
Before his recent string of media-tabloid blunders, teenage pop musician Justin Bieber made celebrity blog headlines by being killed off in his guest starring role on CSI. The crime drama featured the singer setting a bomb off on police in a warehouse and then subsequently shooting a cop at a roadblock, prompting an arsenal of police to pump him full of lead. Though this prompted multitudes of gifs and parodies from all corners of the internet, it obviously doesn’t work in the actual show. Though he’s an overexposed cultural figurehead, it’s still weird seeing a teenager get shot to pieces by law enforcement.
8. The Full House Crew Cover “Proud Mary”
“Good Gosh Almighty!,” where do you even start with this one? Full House is arguably the awkwardest show in TV history, so it’s a natural candidate for this list. Context really isn’t important here: It’s Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) performing a caffeinated cover of the soul-rock classic “Proud Mary,” backed by the fictional Jesse & The Rippers, on his morning TV show. Throughout Full House‘s eight-season tenure (from 1987 to 1995), Saget took “White & Nerdy” to a new pathetic new low — and this clip single-handedly sets back dancing Caucasians at least a half-century. (Also, has there ever been worse instrument pantomiming? Come on, Rippers!) The idea that people actually tuned in and watched this stuff with a straight face is mind-blowing. — Ryan Reed
7. My Chemical Romance on Yo Gabba Gabba!
The bizarre Nick Jr. children’s program Yo Gabba Gabba! has hosted several surprising musical guests, including many notable acts like MGMT, Cut Copy, and of Montreal. Though seeing these artists perform children’s sing-along-songs is a bit different at first, you eventually warm up to the idea, and have to admit that it’s pretty heartwarming. This wasn’t the case at all for the 2011 Christmas special, though, which featured emo-metal band My Chemical Romance. The musical segment features the MCR crew dressed in daisy-duked snow suits, frolicking around in CGI snow, belting a nasally tune which features the lyric “Every Snowflake Is Different (Just Like You).” Though this sentiment would have been sweet from any other artist, hearing it come from the mouths of a band whose major fan demographic was the “teenage social outcast” makes this song seem like a corrupt form of marketing to children.
6. Bob Dylan & The Pawn Stars
A random assortment of musical memorabilia has made its way through the doors of Gold & Silver Pawn Shop on History Channel’s Pawn Stars, but one episode actually featured an unlikely appearance from an in-the-flesh music idol, the legendary folk artist Bob Dylan. Though the show poses to be reality television, the obviously staged encounter began when the store received a vinyl copy of Dylan’s 1970 album, Self Portrait. The money hungry co-owner of the store decided that the album wouldn’t pull in enough revenue by itself and then sent the goofball, comic-relief character Chumlee on a quest through downtown Las Vegas to find Bob Dylan. After several segments showing Chumlee goofing through the streets of the City of Sin, asking strangers if they’ve seen the musician, he finally encounters Dylan on a side street just chilling by his lonesome. After a brief, awkward conversation, Chumlee gets one of the most important American musicians in history to sign his album for the sole purpose of monetary gain. But he ultimately fails in his mission — Rick reveals to him that it can’t be sold because the autograph was made out specifically “to Chumlee.”
5. Anthrax Crashes Married… with Children
In 1992, the television sitcom Married… with Children hosted the unlikely cameo of thrash metal band Anthrax. The episode focuses around the Bundy children, who have won a contest to have dinner with the band, as well as a free house show. In order to evade their parents’ strict rules, the Bundy kids developed a scheme to get their parents away from the house by tricking them into going to Florida on vacation. Anthrax then arrived to the house, but in quirky 90’s sitcom fashion, the prospective party the kids were planning ended up being thwarted due to a snowstorm. The kids spent the remainder of the episode trying to please the musicians, who released their frustrations (due to the lack of an audience for the show) with a slew of snarky remarks. Tensions lightened as soon as Anthrax dove into spoiled, psychedelic meatloaf left in the refrigerator, which caused them to visually hallucinate an audience and play an awkward rendition of their song “Persistence of Time” in the Bundy living room.
4. Michael Jackson Dances with Alvin
The Alvin and the Chipmunks TV special Rockin’ with the Chipmunks was released in 1992, featuring the musical rodents grooving along to their own renditions of American rock songs. In addition to the standard covers element behind the chipmunks, two Michael Jackson music videos were added in which the ringleader of The Chipmunks, Alvin, was stenciled in. This mesh of cartoon/real-life crossover has worked awesomely in several circumstances (like Roger Rabbit, for example), but utterly fails in this scenario, in which Alvin flops around and dances in the foreground to “Smooth Criminal” and “Beat It” but isn’t acknowledged once by anyone. It almost hurts watching Alvin perform his little guts out, not receiving as much as a high five from the King of Pop.
3. Tom Morello’s Star Trek Cameo
Tom Morello, lead guitarist of Rage against the Machine, made a cameo appearance in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager in 1998. The musician, a vocal Star Trek fan, had the opportunity to play a very minor role in an episode of the TV show, in which he walks through a doorway, addresses Captain Janeway, then gives her directions in a scene lasting under a minute. What makes the minor cameo fail is Morello’s cringe-filled reference to his political leanings in real life, redirecting Captain Janeway’s path by saying “Uh, to the left, ma’am.”
2. The Office Covers The Decemberists
In one of the final episodes of The Office’s farewell season, Rainn Wilson’s beet-loving character Dwight Schrute, along with his farming buddies, performs The Decemberists’ 2006 anthem “Sons and Daughters.” They uncomfortably re-cast the song as a folk traditional, utilizing an entire ensemble of front porch pluckers. The bizarre scene has no actual context in plot development, as it was apparently pulled from a Schrute-centric spinoff that fizzled out and subsequently squeezed into place in the episode. It survives as an awkward testament to what could have been — and what thankfully wasn’t.
1. Flavor of Love
Sometime in the mid-2000s, VH1 gave the go ahead for a Bachelor-style reality show starring Public Enemy hype man Flavor Flav. The Viking horn-wearing, clock-welding, cartoonish star spent three seasons trying to find love in a revolving cast of female contestants, all the while yelling his real life catch phrases “Yeah boy!” and “Flavor Flav!” In retrospect, the premise of women fighting over the aged hip-hop musician is entirely confounding. How this idea ever came into fruition (and did well enough to spawn three direct spin-offs) remains an unsolved pop-culture mystery.
Which awkward TV/music crossover moments did we miss? Tell us (and for the love of god, give some links) in the comments section.