Winning an Oscar, or even landing a nomination, is by far one of the highest honors that an actor can get. It's like receiving a giant stamp of approval that could lead to even more film offers, higher salaries, and much bigger audiences. However, actors aren't the only ones who've been lucky enough to snag this prestigious award. A few famous musicians, pop stars, and rappers have also ventured out to try their hand at acting and earned themselves a few Oscar nominations in the process. While some artists won Academy Awards for their acting chops, others were honored for their incredible songwriting skills (though, in most cases, the songwriters were also the performers).
It's a good reminder that talented singers and songwriters are just as Oscar-worthy as our favorite actors. Plus, popular vocalists can be just as (if not more) gifted at acting compared to A-listers. See which artists have taken home Academy Awards.
Only moments after her steamy performance of "Shallow" with Bradley Cooper at this year's Oscars, the singer and actress won her very first Academy Award for Best Original Song. After Lady Gaga and her co-writers (Mark Ronson, Andrew Wyatt, and Anthony Rossomando) received their Oscars for "Shallow," she followed up with the most touching speech: "I’ve worked hard for a long time, and it’s not about winning. But what it’s about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it. There’s a discipline for passion, and it’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down, or you’re beaten. It’s about how many times you stand up, and are brave, and you keep going." Excuse us while we go get this framed.
If you've never seen Moonstruck, then this ought to be reason enough for you to watch it. Cher's memorable performance as the widowed Loretta Castorini was so good that she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1988. But that wasn't her only critically acclaimed role. The singer also got nominated for a second Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and WON the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Silkwood. Viewers were pretty skeptical about Cher's acting ability and even laughed when they noticed her name in the credits, but it looks like Cher got the last laugh.
In 2014, Common and John Legend teamed up to create "Glory," a powerful song about inequality that would also serve as the theme song for Selma. After the duo performed the song at the 87th Academy Awards, "Glory" went on to win the award for Best Original Song - but that's just one award of many. The hit single also got the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, a Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Song, the BET Award for Best Collaboration, and the Grammy for Best Song Written for Visual Media.
Regarding the writing process for the song, John said: "I wanted to write a chorus and music around that idea of glory and, my thoughts were that the song should sound triumphant but also realize that there's more work to do."
Anyone who's heard "Skyfall" can understand why this song is Oscar-worthy. At the 85th Academy Awards, Adele took home the Oscar for Best Original Song. "Skyfall" also received the Golden Globe for that same category, the Brit Award for British Single of the Year, a Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media, and the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Song, meaning the Bond theme made history as the first one to win all of these awards. Sony reached out to Adele specifically because of her music's "soulful, haunting, evocative quality," and by the looks of it, they made the perfect choice.
Sam Smith and producer Jimmy Napes's "Writing's on the Wall" won an Oscar and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 2016. It got mixed reviews from critics and some felt that it fell short compared to Adele's previous Bond hit, "Skyfall." For instance, the Guardian's Alexis Petridis described that it "doesn’t feel anywhere near as striking," which is probably because of the song's emotional aspect. Sam explained: “I wanted a touch of vulnerability from Bond, where you see into his heart a little bit.” Yep, that's definitely the vibe we got.
She's come such a far way since she started out on American Idol! The soulful singer won her first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Dreamgirls in 2006. The singer and actress, who was just 25 at the time, made history as the youngest African-American actor to win an Academy Award, as well as the third African American woman to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her performance as Effie White (which was her very first role) also got her a Golden Globe Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Critics' Choice Movie Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
The Grammy-winning songstress, who's best known for hits like "Come To My Window" and "I'm the Only One," won her first Oscar in 2007. Melissa received the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "I Need to Wake Up," which was made for the documentary film An Inconvenient Truth. The documentary itself, which focuses on Al Gore's mission to educate more people about global warming, also won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, making it the first documentary to win two Oscars. The film also made history as the first documentary to win an award for best original song.
Did you know that Eminem's "Lose Yourself" holds the Guinness World Record for "Longest Running Single at Number One for a Rap Song" at 23 weeks? Aside from doing insanely well commercially, the 8 Mile track also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2003. You might recall that the rapper wasn't even there to receive his Oscar. As for why, he reportedly chose to skip it because it "wasn’t his sort of gig." During the actual ceremony, he was busy napping at home. But hey, better to doze off on your own couch than at a ceremony with millions of people watching, right?
It was the famous rock musical that made fans around the world fall in love with the late musician even more. Not only did Purple Rain give us gems like "When Doves Cry," "Let's Go Crazy," and "I Would Die 4 U," but it also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score in 1985. That soundtrack stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart for a whopping 24 consecutive weeks. Plus, Prince became the first ever artist to simultaneously have the No. 1 album, single, and film in the U.S. There will truly never be another Prince.
In 2001, the singer won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Song for "Things Have Changed," which was from Wonder Boys. At the time, he was doing a tour in Australia, so he performed a song from Sydney that was shown at the Academy Awards via a satellite link. In his acceptance speech, he said: "I want to thank the members of the Academy who were bold enough to give me this award for this song, which obviously is a song that doesn't pussyfoot around nor turn a blind eye to human nature." Right.
In 1969, the legendary Barbra (who's one of the few to have received an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her very first role in Funny Girl. She shared the award with actress Katharine Hepburn, who also won for her role in The Lion in Winter because of a tie in the category. Eight years later, she won her second Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Evergreen," which was made for the OG A Star Is Born. The song also earned her two Golden Globes: one for Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical) and one for Best Original Song.
Three of Elton's songs from The Lion King were nominated for Best Original Song in 1995. They included "Circle of Life," "Hakuna Matata," and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," with the latter being the winner. The song went through quite a few changes in its earlier stages. At first, the song was going to be sung by the actual characters, Simba and Nala. Then, it was changed to Timba and Pumbaa, but Elton thought it would be too comical. In the end, Kristle Edwards wound up singing the vocals with brief lines from Simba and Nala, which worked out perfectly.
Phil's fans were understandably surprised to learn that he partnered up with Disney to work on music. But the songs he came up with for Tarzan turned out to be among his most successful, and "You'll Be in My Heart" won the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. According to his daughter, Lily Collins, the touching song was originally written for her. She said: "It was written as a lullaby to me when I was younger. We grew up watching Disney shows and movies together so that was his way of kind of being able to do it for his kids. It was so special." Aww!
In 1985, this multitalented artist won his first Academy Award for "I Just Called to Say I Love You," which was the lead single for the film The Woman in Red. It charted at No. 1 in several countries, including the United States, Germany, Australia, Sweden, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. However, the latter had a bone to pick with Stevie after he accepted his Oscar at the ceremony. In his speech, he dedicated his award to civil rights leader Nelson Mandela, who was imprisoned at the time. So as a result, South Africa banned all of Stevie's music from their radio stations.
The former Commodores member won both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Song for "Say You, Say Me," which was written for White Nights in 1985. The song peaked at No. 1 in the U.S., Canada, Netherlands, Norway, and South Africa. It was also ranked at #74 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2008.
The song isn't available on the White Nights soundtrack because Motown didn't want the song to be released through another record label. However, the track was released as part of his 1986 album, Dancing on the Ceiling.
A very special rap group made history in 2006 when they became the first hip-hop/rap group to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song. They were also the first rap group ever to perform at the ceremony. Three 6 Mafia got their Oscar for the song "It's Hard out Here for a Pimp," which was a theme song for the movie Hustle & Flow. In the film, the song was performed by actors Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, while another version was recorded by Three 6 Mafia and Paula Campbell.
Among their whopping 84 awards, the English rock group has an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for their documentary film, Let It Be. The movie focuses on the group's rehearsals and the recording process for their very last album of the same name. It was originally supposed to be a television documentary with an additional concert broadcast, but when that got canceled, it was made into a feature film. That was a good call since TV films technically aren't considered for Academy Awards.
The EGOT winner was nominated twice for an Oscar. The first time around, he won the 1994 Academy Award in for Best Original Song for "Streets of Philadelphia." The song was made for the film Philadelphia, which was one of the earliest films to focus on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, homosexuality, and homophobia. The hit single became so successful that it also won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song and four Grammy Awards: Song of the Year, Best Rock Song, Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo, and Best Song Written for a Motion Picture. Bruce is a badass, but we knew that already.
Carly's 1988 single "Let the River Run," which was part of the Working Girl soundtrack, won the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Song. It also won a Grammy Award for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television, making Carly the first artist to win all three of these awards for a song written, performed, and composed by the same person. Carly once shared that it was the film's original script and Walt Whitman's poems that inspired her to write the hit song.
The late singer and actor gained tons of recognition because of his musical score for Shaft. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1972 for "Theme from Shaft," which made him the third African American to win an Oscar and the first to win in that category. "Theme from Shaft" also won two Grammy Awards: one for Best Instrumental Arrangement and one for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special. It's still pretty popular to this day, having been played in shows like The Simpsons, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Scrubs.