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Actors on movie soundtracks

What’s the verdict on Hugh Grant and Samuel L. Jackson’s turns as singers in their new movies?

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THE ROLE
Hugh Grant: Grant stars in Music and Lyrics as Alex Fletcher, a faded ’80s pop singer.
Samuel L. Jackson: In Black Snake Moan (Feb. 23), Jackson plays a farmer bluesman named Lazarus.

THE SOUNDTRACK
HG: Grant sings seven tracks on the CD (out Feb. 13), including the George Michael-esque ”Meaningless Kiss,” written by Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger.
SLJ: Jackson sings four songs, including a cover of ”Alice Mae” by R.L. Burnside. The CD (on sale now) also features the Black Keys and the North Mississippi Allstars.

THE SINGING
HG: ”He could have been an ’80s pop star,” Schlesinger says of Grant. ”Being the greatest singer was not a job requirement [back then].” And Grant’s singing is certainly no worse than what you’d find on actual hits by, say, A Flock of Seagulls and Kajagoogoo.
SLJ: ”The wonderful thing about the blues is you don’t have to be a great singer,” Jackson tells EW. ”You just have to be connected to the song’s emotion.” The actor’s growl certainly sounds connected on his venomous revamp of the blues classic ”Stack-O-Lee.”

THE VERDICT
Grant probably shouldn’t tear up his SAG card. But Jackson could make it as a blues singer — as long as he’s prepared to take the 99.9 percent pay cut.

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