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You may remember him from Old School, for his profanity-laced rendition of Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” or for his wild performance of Robert Flack’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love” (at a Bat Mitzvah, natch) in Starsky & Hutch.
But even if those hit comedies have faded from memory, his triumphant double-hitter in The Hangover, where he played a wedding singer and hilariously nailed 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” and the Fame movie theme, is unforgettable.
So, just how did Dan Finnerty, frontman for the epically named Dan Band, end up as Hollywood’s finest (and filthiest) wedding singer? To hear him tell it, it all comes down to coincidence.
“My friend wanted me to open for her band to make it look like she was headlining, so she was like, ‘Just sing anything, I don’t care what,’ and I was like, ‘Well, I just sang “I Am Woman” at karaoke, and it f—ing kicked ass,” says Finnerty. “So I sang that, some guy walked up to me and was like, ‘I book the Viper Room, and if you can make this a 20-minute set, I’ll book you at the Viper Room. I was like, ‘Are you serious?'”
One chance encounter led to another, as Finnerty – armed with a medley of “girl songs” including “You Light Up My Life,” “Flashdance… What a Feeling,” and the “Fame” theme – ran into film director Todd Phillips shortly after, at a show he was playing.
Phillips, amused, asked him backstage what he’d sing at a movie wedding. And Finnerty, as it happened, had a certain Bonnie Tyler track already up his sleeve.
“We show up to record the song at the shoot, it’s the first day of the movie, and I’m freaking out because Will Ferrell’s there and I loved him from SNL,” he recalls of shooting Old School. “We go to sing the song, and I start singing “Total Eclipse,” and you see the cast and the extras all look over like, ‘Is he f—ing serious?'”
Watch the video above for more, including why he calls a chance encounter with 50 Cent one of “the worst, horrible moments” of his life.