Whether it be a washed-up child actor or a TikTok star on the come-up, many celebrities try to break into the music industry at some point in their career. Given the historical connection between music and the world of sports, it is unsurprising that several star athletes are also taking their talents to the studio. The following are the Tribune’s picks for the best and worst athletes-turned-musicians.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on Tech N9ne’s Faceoff
As the highest-paid male actor for three years running, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has ascended far beyond his relatively humble roots in WWE wrestling. While his talents on the big screen are undeniable, his recent foray into the music industry on Tech N9ne’s “Face Off” has some raising their eyebrows, and many others rejoicing on TikTok. His feature in “You’re Welcome” from Moana was heartfelt and catchy, but the Rock’s most recent verse is so over the top in its embodiment of “hustle culture” that it’s been satirized en masse. While this video says a lot about Johnson as a person and businessman, the most obvious takeaway is his position as the most marketable man on the planet. His blatant shill of “Mana” or Teramana—his own tequila brand—is just a sign of things to come. With talk of a 2024 presidential campaign, it’s hard to imagine the new heights Johnson could achieve. In the meantime, we’ll stay hungry, waiting to devour more of Johnson’s music.
Caroline Wozniacki — Bestie, why?
In 2012, the Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki was just coming off the peak of her professional career, having been seeded number one in the world for the majority of 2010 and 2011. This was also the year she recorded and released “Oxygen”, a song for a charity effort that can only be described as an assault on the ears. The video, which I implore readers to watch, features a stock-still Wozniacki lip syncing in a studio, an incomprehensible romantic plotline, and of course, tons of tennis balls—all delivered in eye-searing 240-pixel quality. The song makes a swing at Britney, but lands on robotic. (If it weren’t already bad enough, the bridge gives us the cringeworthy line, “Boy, you’re my matchpoint”.) Courtside, Wozniacki went on to participate in 55 finals, winning 30 singles titles in the process. She will certainly be remembered for her fantastic tennis-playing, and luckily, not for her foray into music.
Guy Lafleur’s disco career
The beloved Canadiens hockey player is acclaimed as being the Habs’ top scorer of all time with 518 goals and 728 assists, and for being the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals in six consecutive seasons. He is, however, less known for his 1970s disco album, released as an LP with selections in both English and French to please his loyal Quebecois fans. The record was aptly named Lafleur! and was sold along with an instructional booklet that detailed hockey basics, like how to skate, score, and check. Every song, English or French, relates to the game of hockey in some way, and is a certified disco banger. Though he never followed this album up, Lafleur is one of the few entries on this list that excelled both on the rink and in the studio. And with restrictions on dancing in clubs and bars easing this week in Quebec, there has never been a better time to harken back to the good old days, when the disco was hot and the Canadiens were actually good.
Yannick Noah, French superstar
Yannick Noah is famous throughout France for his incredible tennis career, winning at Roland Garros in 1983 and becoming the French tennis captain in 1991, which led him to win the Davis Cup in 1996 and 1997. However, the tennis player is just as well known for his successful music career. Unlike the others on this list, his music is nationally appreciated for its positive and uplifting messages: His 2006 hit single “Aux arbres citoyens” is about environmentalism, and some of his music royalties go towards related charities such as “Les enfants de la terre” or “Fête le mur”. His 11 albums are a reflection of his French and Cameroonian heritage, which he says has inspired his music. Noah is one of the few artists who has successfully managed to transition from a sports career to a music career, and the Tribune recommends “Destination Ailleurs” to anyone looking for a fun, catchy song to practice their French.
Kobe Bryant with K.O.B.E
Just like his teammate Shaquille O’Neal—albeit with less success—the Lakers star gave rap a try during his career, signing a record deal with Sony in 1999. Before making his debut as a solo artist, Bryant was featured on a variety of singles, and even collaborated with Destiny’s Child on their hit song “Say My Name”. However, Kobe Bryant’s debut album never saw the light of day after the release of his first single “K.O.B.E”, featuring model Tyra Banks. The song sounds exactly like what one would imagine a Tyra Banks feature to be. She sings the chorus, chanting about how much she loves Bryant: “K-O-B-E / I L-O-V-E you.” Bryant raps to a funky beat that nonetheless does not match the overall tone of the song. For Bryant’s fans, however, the song is full of nostalgia: During the filming of the music video, Kobe Bryant met his future wife, Vanessa Bryant. The song encapsulates the spirit and drive of early 2000s Kobe, who managed to capture the hearts of millions of fans all over the world.