Scarlett Johansson: Lost in music

Scarlett Johansson / supplied
Smokin' ... Scarlett Johansson / supplied
MOVING from credible actress to credible singer has always be a precarious career path, claiming many victims.
For every success story there are more than a handful of failures, or in celebrity-to-celebrity ratio, one Jennifer Lopez to three Minnie Drivers.
So when news broke that modern screen icon Scarlett Johansson was planning to tread the notoriously rocky road from Hollywood darling to pop star the obvious musing and mutterings about her 'inevitable' demise ensued.
However, not every actress-turned-singer has an already critically acclaimed singer-songwriter in their corner.
The gruff-voiced jazz musician Tom Waits has not only agreed to let Scarlett cover 10 of his hits for her debut album Anywhere I Lay My Head, but he is "pleased" with the results.
Scarlett revealed: "Tom Waits's melodies are so beautiful and his voice is so distinct. I sent him some of my e
arly, early recordings, and he said, 'Go ahead.' I've heard he's very pleased."
As if one musical legend wasn't enough, Scarlett also managed to convince pop supremo and chart chameleon David Bowie to lay down vocals for one of the tracks.
And, as with Waits, Bowie has been busy waxing lyrical about the untapped musical talent that is Scarlett Johansson - even going as far to compare her to some of today's greatest wordsmiths.
He gushed: "The songs are great, really good Tom Waits stuff, and Scarlett's performances are mystical and cool.
"She creates a mood that could have been summoned by someone like the novelists Margery Latimer or Jeanette Winterson."
Bowie was even modest enough to play down his own involvement in the project, insisting Scarlett had everything covered.
He explained: "I've seen the press on the album and I suppose the record company wanted to spin my involvement a little more than it actually warrants.
"All I really contribute are these oo's and ah's on a couple of tracks. David Sitek, the producer, originally asked me to do three songs, but for one of them, I Don't Wanna Grow Up, I didn't feel I could contribute much to it, so I left it alone."
On top of the two already established names, Scarlett has also injected a little bit of cool into her debut with the help of a collaboration with Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner.
But what about the star herself, after wowing audiences with her early performances in Girl With A Pearl Earring and Lost in Translation, there was no question of film offers drying up.
So why did she feel the need to dip her toe into the often shark-infested waters of a musical career?
Well, for want of a better reason, it seems simply because she fancied a new challenge.
She explained: "It was a whole other magical experience for me. It was amazing. I worked with some incredible people and was just able to work, to do something completely different.
"I recorded in a very remote area in Louisiana and just have free reign to be crazy crazy and that is so exciting."
Scarlett's debut - which also features one original track - is due to be released in the US on May 20 and only time will tell if her daring career move has paid off.
Will her album be resigned to the bargain bin, or could we see her slide effortlessly between her two arts, in a manner akin to the screen goddess who she has already been compared to, Marilyn Monroe?
If, in the unfortunate event Scarlett does find her album languishing at the bottom end of the charts, she will be in good company.
After an Oscar-nominated performance in Good Will Hunting in 1997, Minnie Driver had Hollywood in the palm of her hand.
But little did we know she was harbouring a dark secret - a deep desire to be a singing sensation.
Her ambition began early in her career when she was a member of the band called Puff, Rocks and Brown, and landed a development deal with Island Records.
Unfortunately, that was the closest Puff, Rocks and Brown came to sniffing success and the contract ended without any release.
However, refusing to lay to rest her, some would say, misguided musical aspirations, just three years after the success of Good Will Hunting.
Minnie decided it was time to subject the public to more of her warblings and she began scouting for a new record label.
In 2001, she signed with EMI and Rounder Records, and finally her dreams came true with the release of her debut single Everything I've Got in My Pocket.
Unfortunately, her dreams only amounted to number 34 in the UK chart and her second single Invisible Girl didn't even make it into the top 40, limping in at 63.
Perhaps Minnie should have packed up her dreams for good when she was the only cast member of Joel Schumacher's film The Phantom of the Opera to be dubbed.
But, surprisingly undeterred Minnie gave pop another shot with the release of her second album Seastories last July, which also failed to set the charts alight.
Catherine Zeta Jones has an equally embarrassing tale of chart woe.
In 1992, while she was charming the British public with her role in TV drama The Darling Buds of May, the Welsh actress made her musical debut singing on Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of Spartacus - a concept LP telling the story of Roman gladiator Spartacus through song.
Her tune For All Time on the album was released as a single but peaked at just number 36 in the UK charts.
The brunette beauty then went on to release In the Arms of Love and I Can't Help Myself, both of which failed to chart, before teaming up with David Essex on the duet True Love Ways, which landed Essex one of his lowest ever chart positions of 38.
Jennifer Love Hewitt, Tyra Banks, Liz Hurley and sometime actress Paris Hilton can also add failed singer to their bows.
But, on the flip side there are those success stories that keep a steady stream of actresses attempting to make that career crossover.
Jennifer Lopez has something of the Midas about her, turning everything she touches into gold, or platinum for that matter.
After garnering praise in the Academy Award-nominated thriller Out of Sight, Jennifer beginning building brand J.Lo and she released her debut single If You Had My Love in May 1999.
The sexy R+B number completed her bootylicious Bronx image - she was currently dating hip-hop star P.Diddy - and the song sailed to the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, while her curves could be viewed on rotation on MTV.
Her debut LP On the 6 made it to an impressive eighth position in the Billboard 200 albums charts, leaving Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston quaking in their diva-shoes.
Since then J.Lo has released a further six albums - her latest Brave was released last year - two of which went to number one on the Billboard 200 charts, enjoyed sell-out tours and been lavished with numerous awards and accolades.
On a smaller scale, Gwyneth Paltrow has also had a taste of chart success after demonstrating her vocal ability on the 2000 movie Duets when she performed a cover of Smokey Robinson's song Cruisin' with Huey Lewis.
The song was released as a single and spent two weeks at number one in the Australian charts.
Last year, it was reported Gwyneth was determined to muscle in on her Coldplay singer husband Chris Martin's patch and had been writing and recording tracks for her debut pop album with producer William Orbit.
Other actresses to make the crossover include Kate Winslet, whose brief musical career is made up entirely of her number six hit in the UK What If, Juliette Lewis, who is now a bonafide rock star fronting the band Juliette and The Licks, and Lindsay Lohan, whose 2004 debut album Speak
peaked at number four in the US Billboard 200 chart.
But even Lindsay is somewhat of a warning tale to Scarlett as her second album A Little More Personal (Raw) only made it to a disappointing number 20 in the US before falling out of the top 40 two weeks later.
So the moral of this story seems to be looks, power, and celebrity status are not enough to guarantee you chart success.
The music fan is a discernable critic and if you don't have talent stick to the mirror and a hairbrush.