Why giving Gwyneth Paltrow a record deal isn't a good idea
Following her starring role as a fading country star in “Country Strong,” her appearance on “Glee” and her performances on the Country Music Assn. Awards, the Grammys and the Academy Awards, Gwyneth Paltrow is now contemplating cutting a full album as herself.
The New York Post originally broke the news and sources confirm to Hitfix that Paltrow has had initial talks with Atlantic Records, but no deal has been inked. Atlantic declined to comment.
So is this a good or bad idea? At this point, Paltrow could package her songs from “Country Strong” and “Glee” and she’d have a complete EP, so she’s already half-way there. (Her three songs from tonight’s episode of “Glee” are on “Glee, Vol. 5,” which came out today, March 8).
The past is littered with movie and TV stars who have capitalized on their fame to release records and join the ranks of one-hit wonders, like David Soul (“Don’t Give Up On Us Baby”) or Jack Wagner (“All I Need”).
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Additionally, there are a handful of actors who have segued into music careers, most notably and recently, Jared Leto who has put acting on the back burner to concentrate on the successful 30 Seconds to Mars. But for every Jared Leto, there are several Keanu Reeves. Dogstar, anyone? Scarlett Johansson falls somewhere in the middle. I was no fan of the Tom Waits’ cover album, but enjoyed her EP with Pete Yorn.
And then there are the actors like Paltrow who have had chart success on the backs of movie roles, like Keith Carradine and “I’m Easy” from “Nashville” or John Travolta from “Grease” (he also put out a few albums before that capitalizing on his “Welcome Back Kotter” success). I still think Jeff Bridges could have had a big country hit with “Fallin’ and Flyin’” from “Crazy Heart.”
This is a path Paltrow has already tread with “Cruisin’,” her duet with Huey Lewis from the movie, “Duets.” She took that song all the way to No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 2000. She got to No. 30 on Billboard’s country chart with “Country Strong’s” title track and to No. 41 with “Me and Tennessee” a duet with her movie husband Tim McGraw.
Add in the attention she got for her strong version of Cee-Lo’s “Forget You” on “Glee,” and subsequently joining him on the Grammys, and it looks like Paltrow has realized what her husband, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, has known all along: performing is really, really fun and brings an instant gratification that movie acting doesn’t.
Does it matter that Paltrow’s voice is serviceable at best or that she’s basically an Oscar-award winning karaoke singer? I think it does. As far as the average voice (and, I’d go so far as less-than-average on her Oscar performance), many folks think Taylor Swift can’t sing either, but Swift is an artist and a hell of a songwriter. We’d put Paltrow more in the “American Idol” camp. She’s not that different than the vast majority of “AI” contestants who confuse their ability to stay on pitch with having something to say.
Sorry, but that’s not how it works. It’s tough times for record companies and money spent on Paltrow’s vanity project is money that could be spent on what little bit of artist development labels still attempt. Quite frankly, if I thought for a second that she’d have a huge smash with original material, I’d say she should go for it because the money made from her album sales could go to help developing artists, but that doesn’t seem very likely. This feels more like a novelty idea and an attempt to capitalize on her “Country Strong” and “Glee” momentum than a real sense that she could be a credible artist.
If Paltrow so badly wants to flex her singing chops, I say leave the major labels alone. Money can’t possibly be an issue so this isn’t someone who needs record company funding, although we’re sure her ego would like the affirmation of a major label being willing to spend big bucks to promote her (who wouldn’t?). I humbly suggest she put it out herself through her Goop website and donate all proceeds to charity.