Few Hollywood comebacks have been executed with such self-deprecating good humor as William Shatner’s. Neither Star Trek conventions nor T.J. Hooker has kept the Enterprise captain down — and his recent gig as Priceline.com huckster has projected him into a whole new dimension of kitsch culture. Shatner tells EW the commercials — from Hill, Holliday/New York — are ”a mixture of comedy and tongue-in-cheek, with the tongue not too obtrusive in the cheek.” Curious for their thoughts on Shatner’s performances, we asked five of the songs’ original artists to weigh in.
”BUST A MOVE”
”Bust A Move” is beaten up in karaoke bars nightly, so compared to that, he did a great job. Five years ago, I would have resented it because I’m trying to get beyond [the song]. But I’ve been able to touch the culture. That makes me feel good.
Advice: Please. Like I’m losing sleep over how William Shatner raps.
”DOES ANYBODY REALLY KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS?”
Chicago (Commentary by Robert Lamm)
I’d never say anything negative about another performer’s interpretation, shall we say, of my work, but William Shatner established his reputation as a stylist a long time ago. I’m not really in a position to criticize anything he’s done.
Advice: I’d ask him to check out Flavor Flav’s version first, for motivation.
”WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE”
The Animals (Commentary by Eric Burdon)
I’m sure working on an ongoing series like Star Trek must have been a bore — I’m sure it was years of pain for the poor guy. It looks like he’s catching up on having a good time, living out his fantasies as a rocker. Hey, rock & roll was commercial music to start with.
Advice: Lose the suits. Get some black leather!
”TWO TICKETS TO PARADISE”
I had no idea it was going to be not really sung correctly. A singer he is not. I got comments from a lot of people. They couldn’t believe William Shatner was up there, overweight, singing ”Two Tickets to Paradise” horribly, with a band.
Advice: I’d take the mic out of his hand, put a little hip action in it, you know?
”I WANT YOU TO WANT ME”
Cheap Trick (Commentary by Tom Petersson)
I came up with a term: ersatz hip. Trying to be hip, but it’s not real. Hip replacement. Singing? Whatever. Do we call what he does ”acting”? I guess some do. How did we get mixed up in this? What did we do to deserve this?
Advice: First Kathie Lee on Broadway, now this. Maybe they should get together.
SHATNER ON SHATNER
GETTING THE GIG:
”The company asked me to be the spokesman and upon a reasonable amount of due diligence, I agreed.”
”I listened to each record thoroughly. I became indoctrinated with their approach. Then — since we all understand I can’t sing — I chose to act it with slight irony.”
”There’s no criteria here. It’s me playing the fool.” AUDIENCE:
”I think it was quite a chance to take — not knowing whether the audience would be laughing at me or with me. If they were laughing at me, it wouldn’t have lasted this long. I have to assume they’re laughing with me.”