They can act, but can these celebrities sing?

Jackie Chan. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Jackie Chan. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Chiling Lin. -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER
Chiling Lin. -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER
Zhang Ziyi. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Zhang Ziyi. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Huang Xiaoming. -- PHOTO: MYPAPER
Huang Xiaoming. -- PHOTO: MYPAPER
Maggie Cheung. -- PHOTO: CNS
Maggie Cheung. -- PHOTO: CNS

These famous stars think their talent is boundless, but let your ears be the judge

She has been the chaste ideal woman shimmering like a mirage in Wong Kar Wai's nostalgic films, the elegant international woman of fashion and a movie queen at Cannes.

But can Maggie Cheung pull off rock star?

The actress' debut as a rocker at the Strawberry Music Festival in Shanghai and Beijing recently was slammed by concertgoers.

Known in the Hong Kong film industry for her low, husky "tau sa hau" (Cantonese for gravelly "bean paste voice"), her pipes were further criticised by concertgoers as flat and out of tune, with one commenting that it sounded like "a voice that is forsaken by heaven", according to reports.

Some even walked out in the middle of her set, which included the Teresa Teng classic Tian Mi Mi, Rihanna's Stay and her original Visionary Heart.

Cheung was backed by her five-piece band at the annual outdoor music event organised by independent music label Modern Sky.

Still, it is not for lack of trying that the 49-year-old cannot seem to take the music scene by storm. She has also sung in the French film Clean (2004), directed by her ex-husband Olivier Assayas. The scene, which can be found on YouTube, drew comments such as how she sounded like a "ghost", with most agreeing that she cannot sing.

Her role as a recovering drug addict and aspiring singer in the film, however, won her the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004.

SundayLife! rounds up some actors who have also dabbled unsuccessfully in singing in recent years.

elricat@sph.com.sg

Who has potential and who should stick to his day job? Write to suntimes@sph.com.sg


Who: Maggie Cheung, 49, actress

When: May 1 and 3, Strawberry Music Festival in Shanghai and Beijing

Video: Maggie Cheung performs Stay, by American pop singer Rihanna (youtube.com/watch?v=N0UPoZGuuBw)

Short review: She lost me from the first note. Her rendition was off-key from the start and she never got back on track. She did try to inject some emotion with her low, husky voice, but punctuated the song with too many dramatic and unnecessary pauses. Concertgoers in Beijing, the second stop of the music festival, should thank the strong winds which cut short her set that night. But she did look the part of a rocker, dressed in a slinky black dress and sporting a shaggy hairdo.

Score: -1/10. If her acting were a 10/10, her singing is zero. I gave her one point for the courage to try something new, but subtracted two for inflicting such a performance on us.


Who: Huang Xiaoming, 36, actor

When: 2008 Sohu's 10th Anniversary Celebration

Video: Huang Xiaoming performs Because Of You from his 2007 debut album It's Ming (youtube.com/watch?gl=SG&hl=en-GB&v=T2FrkLpq_To)

Short review: Huang sounded flat and monotonous for the most part. Then he made the audience wish that he had kept it that way when he tried to hit a high note at the end of the song - and missed horribly. He also struggled to catch the beat occasionally and his vocals sounded wobbly when holding the notes.

His performance prompted a woman backstage, said to be Chinese TV host Li Xiang, whose microphone had not been turned off, to say: "I can't stand actors nowadays, how can they sing so badly?" Oops. However, he did look suave dressed in a casual grey suit. He has released two studio albums - It's Ming in 2007 and Moopa in 2010 - which received mixed reviews. Critics noted his potential but some wondered if he has the chops to sing live.

Chinese diva Han Hong declared in an interview that Huang sounded like "an amateur singer" but gave him high marks for the "whole package".

Score: 1/10 for his boyish smile and pretty face, the only highlight of the performance.


Who: Zhang Ziyi, 35, actress

When: 2008 CCTV New Year's Gala

Video: Zhang performs Fairy Scattering Flowers, a song written by Taiwanese musician Ji Zhong Ping for her (youtube.com/watch?hl=en-GB&v=-TsUT_cVrYI&gl=SG)

Short review: With a high-pitched, saccharine-sweet voice that sounded breathy, Zhang squeaks out each note like a mosquito. The smile plastered on her face throughout the song looked fake too. She could carry a tune, but some critics accused her of lip syncing. Still, you have to give her credit for looking good in a puffy pink gown, which is no mean feat. She has previously performed on the soundtracks of movies such as House Of Flying Daggers (2004) and My Lucky Star (2013).

In the scene from House Of Flying Daggers, where she performed Jia Ren Ge (The Beauty Song), she was praised for her graceful dance movements but few commented on her singing. In the music video of her duet with Wang Leehom in My Lucky Star, called Love A Little, many netizens pointed out that her voice was overshadowed by that of the American-born, Taiwan-based Wang.

Score: 3/10 for looking pretty and singing in tune.


Who: Chiling Lin, 39, model-actress

When: 2010 Taipei International Flora Exposition

Video: Lin performs The Power Of Beauty, the official theme song for the expo for which she penned the lyrics (youtube.com/watch?v=70wEbl8epYo)

Short review: Lin sings the same way she talks - in an unnatural child-like way - and her high-pitched voice could grate on your nerves. She also sang the theme song for the 2009 action adventure movie

The Treasure Hunter to generally negative reviews. Lin might have looked as beautiful as the flowers at the expo, dressed in an elegant one-shoulder white dress with floral embellishment, but her singing certainly was not. She was out of tune from the start, cracked her voice hitting the high notes and struggled to keep up with the beat.

Score: 1/10 for her effort to carry on singing despite these numerous setbacks.


Who: Jackie Chan, 60, actor,

When: 2009 CCTV New Year's Gala

Video: Chan sings Stand Up from the official album for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, along with Hong Kong singers Eason Chan, Joey Yung and China's Tan Jing (youtube.com/watch?v=rmy5aEvjMB4)

Short review: This rousing song should have been perfect for Chan's deep vocals. The action superstar might have produced more than 10 studio albums over the years, but his live performance here is a flop. Dressed in a white zhongshan suit, he looked out of his depth compared to the other singers, who tried to help him when he went off key. The ensemble never really got their groove. The song would have sounded a lot better as a duet between Eason Chan and Tan Jing.

Score: 3/10 because this would have been okay in a karaoke room. But on stage? Not so much.