The line between love and hate may be thin, but it's not as thin as the one between ridiculously embarrassing and awesomely watchable. We've tirelessly sifted through clip after agonizing clip of every second-rate celebrity who's ever strapped on a guitar or tickled the ivories or rapped about butts and found eight musical performances that skate that razor-thin line, managing to make you mortified for everyone involved and jealous of their place in baffling music video history (And, before you think you know where this list is going, we will have you know "The Super Bowl Shuffle" failed to make the cut, though the '85 Super Bowl Champs do not go unrepresented).
#8. Ron Jeremy - "Freak Of The Week"
Behind The Music
After teaching special education in New York for a little while, Ron Jeremy decided to make a slight career change by ... err ... becoming the most famous porn star in the world. With more than 1,600 film credits to his name, Ron Jeremy has porked a small city's worth of women despite being one of the most hideous wretches in all of Long Island (which is another accomplishment in and of itself).
Perhaps crippled by the "been there, done that" ennui that so many people associate with their jobs, Jeremy decided to take a break from fucking porn stars in 1996 to record a rap track with DJ Polo called "Freak of the Week." The video features cameos by Corey Feldman, John Bobbitt, Joey Buttafuoco, Grandpa Munster and a whole lot of women in thongs who hate their fathers.
The song itself reached No. 22 on the Billboard rap charts, encouraging scads of overweight, washed-up porn stars with rap aspirations to keep reaching for that rainbow and writing down those sick rhymes. Also awesome for the inescapable feeling you get that Jeremy, at one point, pulled a Reed Rothchild and told someone, "I'm a rapper now, I can fuck on my own time."
Are you as angry that Ron Jeremy recorded a rap song because he was sick of fucking porn stars as we are? Then stick with the video to around the 3:20 mark for the "boom-boom" portion, where a shirtless boxer punches Jeremy much harder than was probably necessary for the video.
#7. Steven Seagal - "Girl It's Alright"
Behind The Music
Although most well known for his role as a Navy SEAL-turned-chef in 1992's Under Siege, Seagal is too complex, too multifaceted to spend the entirety of his career pretending to kill terrorists on a boat. After Siege, Seagal tried his hand at directing in 1994's On Deadly Ground. In it, Seagal played an EPA agent hell bent on rescuing the Alaskan wilderness (and all the Eskimos within it) from an evil oil company ... with extreme prejudice. Bafflingly, the film tanked and lost the studio more than $10 million. Seagal has managed a handful of box office semi-successes since then, but the bulk of his films have gone straight to video.
With that in mind, cut him some slack when you listen to "Girl It's Alright"-the guy's been having a rough decade. According to his website, Seagal "got his first guitar at the age of 12 ... but it was not until Steven's mother influenced him to 'let the world hear his music' that he released his first album, Songs from the Crystal Cave, in 2004."
In "Girl It's Alright," Seagal rasps generic pop lyrics while fondling Asian women half his age in front of Buddhist temples. Remember, you have Seagal's mother to thank for that. If that isn't enough to convince you that Steven Seagal rules, maybe the fact that he has his own energy drink called Lightning Bolt will seal the deal.
At 1:20, Seagal takes a break from awkwardly singing blues music to spar with an 8-year-old boy that he found. The boy is playfully throwing punches, while The Glimmer Man is in a full-on karate position and taking himself way too seriously. It's like he made this music video to show that he wasn't just an action star, but at the last minute realized he couldn't help himself. It just goes to show you; you can take the fat guy out of the cheesy Kung Fu movie, but you can't take the cheesy Kung Fu out of the fat guy.
#6. John Cena - "An 'Impromptu' Freestyle Battle"
Behind The Music
We had always been under the impression that the lowest point in the current WWE champ's career was being placed in a storyline with, and defeated by, K-Fed. The highest point was of course when Cena grabbed the cornrowed fuckabout from the announcer's booth, pulled him into the ring and administered massive amounts of theatrical pain. Another possible high point was his film The Marine, which although awful, was at least known as the most effortlessly titled movie until this year's War came along. However, the high/low water-marks of the Cena era all have to be recalibrated in light of this battle rap with a child.
This clearly staged (but hopefully not actually rehearsed) freestyle battle begins with an irate WWE fan insulting Cena where it hurts-his not having a wife. You know it's an authentic street battle when a dude's dissed for choosing not to settle down and start a family. Of course this is the WWE, so it's pretty safe to assume that the planted battle rapper was only there to tee Cena up for a big win. Which makes it all the more embarrassing when Cena bombs.
With each passing rhyme, the crowd seems to grow more and more embarrassed for the champ. And it's not like he's rapping on stage at the Apollo; the audience is packed with 12 year old John Cena fans. Not exactly a tough audience. Also seemingly 12 years old-the kid who Cena angrily insults for two straight minutes, making the overall effect of the performance less "throw ya hands in the air" and more "hey man, why don't you ease up, he's just a kid." Or at least you would feel sorry for the kid if Cena weren't doing such an effective job embarrassing himself with gems like: "I'm real, you're phony/ My style's phat, like Siragusa (awkwardly long pause) Tony."
At 1:42 someone tells the kids, watching in stunned silence up to that point, to start cheering. Cena is so surprised by the noise that he loses his train of thought, and looks back at whomever told the crowd to make noise, apparently annoyed that they've broken his concentration.
#5. Leonard Nimoy - "The Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins"
Behind The Music
Before he was Mr. Spock, the half-Vulcan was already a well-known actor in television, film and theater. Although he is obviously best known for his role on the original Star Trek series, Nimoy is a veritable Jack-of-all-trades, dabbling in nude photography, penning volumes of poetry, and releasing five popular records in the '60s and '70s. He also wrote two autobiographies, 1977's I Am Not Spock, and 1995's seemingly contradictory I Am Spock. Nimoy's publicist has also confirmed that 2008 will see the release of Nimoy's third autobiography, I Did Not Write a Ridiculous Song About Bilbo Baggins, followed by a fourth in 2009, Okay, Fine, I Did.
What can we say? It was a different era? A purer, simpler time? Pundits are always blathering about how exposure to television violence warps childrens' minds, but when it comes to the lasting effects of exposure to Leonard Nimoy eskimo-kissing some chick wearing a "Hobbits Unite!" button, they're conspicuously silent.
We're not sure which one is more damaging; can't we just have a little of both and call it even? We're talking to you, FOX.
At around 1:10, Mr. Spock sings about fighting goblins and battling trolls, which is visually represented by an extra hiding behind a rock and waving a branch while someone throws a man's shirt into the air. He must have run out of funding for this video pretty damn early.