The King of Rock and Roll's movie career is both the archetype and warning for every single performer on this list. "Love Me Tender," Presley's first of 33 films, made him a even bigger star than he was when it was released in 1956. But through the 1960s, the singer -- more specifically his manager Colonel Tom Parker -- favored quantity over quality, releasing a slew of critically panned films that watered down his once unshakeable sound. The worldwide celebrity continued yet the results were now unpredictable.19. Janet Jackson
A perennial television star in the 1970s and '80s -- remember Willis' girlfriend Charlene from "Diff'rent Strokes?" -- Jackson made the transition to film in 1993 in John Singleton's "Poetic Justice," a romantic road trip film featuring Tupac Shakur. Singleton's follow-up to "Boyz n the Hood" was a surprise hit, though Jackson chose to focus primarily on her music through the next decade. She's since tried her hand at comedy as Eddie Murphy's girlfriend in "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" and has recently turned up in a few Tyler Perry productions ("Why Did I Get Married?", "For Colored Girls").18. Mandy Moore
If you are a teenage girl, you can probably recite Mandy Moore's lengthy filmography by heart; if not, just know that the pop star starred in 18 movies between 2000 and last year, including the lead role in Disney's 2010 Rapunzel update "Tangled." While Moore's films have been more strikeouts than hits, she excels in films like "Saved!," the 2004 satire on fundamentalist Christianity that upended her stereotypical Goody Two Shoes image.17. Tupac Shakur
Tupac may be remembered as the embodiment of bravado and machismo, but his vulnerable, artistic talents were on display well before any of the rapper's headline-grabbing antics. Shakur's training as a student of Baltimore School for the Arts prepared him well for films like "Juice," "Poetic Justice" and "Above the Rim." With every role, Shakur's intensity dominated the scene, with the 1,000-yard stare of his eyes conveying more than most full scripts. If Tupac focused all his energy on acting, he could've been one of the greats.16. Ice Cube
Arguably the most successful rapper/actor and indisputably the most successful Ice-themed rapper/actor, O'Shea Jackson has gone from politically charged, incendiary emcee to building a mini-empire as an actor, screenwriter, producer and director. As Doughboy in John Singleton's classic urban drama "Boyz n the Hood," the rapper pulled off both the intimidating and heartfelt sides of his character. He would subsequently build up a wide roster of films, including drama ("Higher Learning"), action ("Anaconda") and, who would have guessed?, comedy, with the "Friday," "Barbershop" and "Are We There Yet?" franchises all successful enough to spark multiple sequels.15. Dolly Parton
The Queen of Country will always be known as one of the genre's preeminent and prolific singers and songwriters (more than 40 albums and counting), but when it comes to film, it's quality over quantity. Parton's first two roles, 1980's "Nine to Five" and 1982's "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" both garnered her Best Actress Golden Globe nominations, while her role in "Rhinestone" actually made Sylvester Stallone sound slightly more comprehensible. More recently, the singer can be heard in the animated feature "Gnomeo and Juliet."14. Aaliyah
When her life was tragically cut short at the age of 22 in 2001, R&B singer Aaliyah Haughton was robbed of more than just a singing career. As Trish O'Day in the 2000 martial arts film "Romeo Must Die," the singer displayed an acting range well beyond her years. The success of "Romeo" led to the 2001 vampire film "Queen of the Damned," where the singer played Queen Akasha. While the film was panned, the singer was once again singled out for her acting ability. Upon her death, she was scheduled to star as Zee in The Matrix Reloaded, a role that eventually went to Nona Gaye, the daughter of legendary soul singer Marvin.13. David Bowie
Nicolas Roeg's "The Man Who Fell to Earth," the story of an alien sent to Earth to retrieve the planet's water only to fall in love with the foreign land, couldn't have been more perfect for David Bowie's first starring role. An innovative musician who routinely incorporated theater, performance and character into his work, Bowie always seemed more alien (in both senses) than any of his peers. Whether as a vampire in "The Hunger," Andy Warhol in "Basquiat" or Jareth the Goblin King in "Labyrinth," Bowie's singular talents and unique view of the world ensure that a "standard" Bowie performance will never exist. And we wouldn't have it any other way.12. Mos Def
The lyrical, thought-provoking emcee has always had a gift for performance, so it's no surprise Mighty Mos got his acting start at 14 in a made-for-TV movie. In addition to numerous theater and television appearances -- that's him as Dante Beze in the short-lived "The Cosby Mysteries" -- the rapper has primarily opted for lower-profile, yet artistically significant works including "Monster's Ball" and "The Woodsman." More recently, he starred with Jack Black in Michel Gondry's flawed but creative "Be Kind Rewind" and played Chuck Berry in the more flawed but less creative "Cadillac Records."11. Dean Martin
With Frank Sinatra, part-time actor/full-time singer/fuller-time drinker Dean Martin led The Brat Pack, a group of entertainers in the 1960s who all appeared in each other's films and albums. Martin dominated nearly every entertainment field for more than a decade, and while he never won the awards, his film career spans nearly 40 years and includes a series of Westerns, war films and the classic caper film "Ocean's Eleven." We're partial though to 1968's "5 Card Stud," the first Western-noir ever produced.10. Courtney Love
The Hole frontwoman should be on this list for every time she gave Oscar-winning performances of sobriety and normalcy (rimshot!). Before Hole even existed, Love could be seen in Alex Cox's "Sid and Nancy," -- insert joke here --the acclaimed biopic on Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. A decade later, despite massive studio misgivings, Love was cast as Althea Flynt, wife of hustler magnate Larry Flynt, in 1996's "The People Vs. Larry Flynt," earning a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress and a Golden Cup for passing every drug test. Shocking nearly everyone, Love would repeat the unanimous acclaim in "Flynt" three years later alongside Jim Carrey in "Man on the Moon."9. Queen Latifah
After the release of her third album "Black Reign" in 1993, Queen Latifah began her acting career in earnest as one of a group of African-Americans living in Brooklyn on the popular FOX show "Living Single. " The 1990s would bring the "U.N.I.T.Y." rapper minor roles, but it was her portrayal of Matron "Mama" Morton in Rob Marshall's "Chicago" that brought the Queen into a new level of royalty and earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Her acting career has had spotty results since ("Taxi"? Really?), but in her comfort zone, as in the 2007 musical "Hairspray," Her Highness still reigns.8. Jennifer Hudson
Few singers have had as much acting success from their debut performance as former "American Idol" contestant Jennifer Hudson. As the hot-blooded Effie White, member of the Supremes-styled Dreamettes, Hudson played opposite, and upstaged, Beyoncé and Eddie Murphy, taking over the film with her booming voice and towering presence. She went on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and followed up "Dreamgirls" with a supporting role in "Sex and the City" and a lead role in "The Secret Life of Bees."7. Bing Crosby
The most popular performer of the 1930s and '40s, actor and singer Bing Crosby, along with frequent partner Bob Hope, made some of the most enduring films in history and became the first American pop star to successfully forge a career in film. While Crosby and Hope's "Road" series, a set of seven films combining adventure, humor and musical interludes and taking place in remote parts of the world, became the actor's most notable legacy, the "White Christmas" crooner picked up a Best Actor Academy Award for 1944's "Going My Way" and two Best Actor nominations for the film's sequel "The Bells of St. Mary's" and 1955's "The Country Girl."6. Justin Timberlake
"Yogi Bear" and "The Love Guru" notwithstanding, the former 'N Sync megastar has done a 180 from his squeaky clean upbringing when it comes to film, choosing dark, grimy roles in films such as "Alpha Dog" and "Southland Tales." While the singer added to his comedy roster with this summer's comedies "Bad Teacher" and "Friends With Benefits," it was 2010's performance as Napster co-founder and Facebook mentor Sean Parker that silenced any remaining JT naysayers.5. Barbara Streisand
Love her or hate her, they don't come much bigger than Babs, a multi-talented singer, actress, filmmaker and producer whose cinematic reign starts with an Best Actress Academy Award for 1968's "Funny Girl" and extends to this day with the "Fockers" series. In between, she remains one of the few entertainers who has picked up Oscar nominations or wins for Best Picture (1991's "The Prince of Tides," which she directed), Best Song (1976's "A Star is Born") and Best Actress (along with "Funny Girl," Streisand earned a nomination for 1973's "The Way We Were.") So basically Hall of Fame in every category you can envision.4. Frank Sinatra
The conventional wisdom about the Chairman of the Board is that his hubris at being "Frank Sinatra" overshadowed the necessity to, well, act in movies. But when he found the right roles -- see his harrowing, Oscar-nominated portrayal as a drug addict in "The Man With The Golden Arm" and the rough Captain Marco in the spy thriller "The Manchurian Candidate" -- no one could do confident better. Arguably his most well-known role, though, is the 1953 wartime classic "From Here to Eternity," a role that earned the actor his only Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.3. Mark Wahlberg
Make all the Marky Mark jokes you want. Who would've thought in 2011, the erstwhile rapper and Funkiest of Bunches would be an A-list actor with an Academy Award nomination to his credit (Best Supporting Actor for Martin Scorsese's "The Departed"). Films like "The Substitute" and "Fear" are hardly the auspicious start any actor hopes for, but as local loser-turned-porn star Dirk Diggler in Paul Thomas Anderson's "Boogie Nights," Wahlberg received universal acclaim and went on to expand his résumé into comedy ("I Heart Huckabees," "The Other Guys"), drama ("Three Kings") and action ("The Perfect Storm"). Wahlberg's reign continues to this day, with his subtle portrayal of Micky Ward in "The Fighter" earning the actor his first Best Actor nomination at the Golden Globes.2. Cher
If the only thing you know about the cinematic side of Cher is the recent flop "Burlesque," you have about 30 years of catching up to do. The singer/actress/variety show staple received a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe nomination for 1982's "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean," one of her earliest roles. "Silkwood" would win her the same award a year later, while 1987's romantic comedy "Moonstruck" with Nicolas Cage earned her a Best Actress Oscar (a rarity for a comedy). We'll always be partial, though, to her tough-but-loving Rusty Dennis, the mother of Rocky Dennis in "Mask." We may act tough, but that last scene gets us every time.1. Will Smith
In the late 1980s to mid-1990s, Will Smith helped usher in the post-Biz Markie lighter, playful side of hip-hop, both with family-friendly tracks ("Parents Just Don't Understand," "I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson") and his massively successful TV show "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Beginning in 1993, however, Smith showed that hip-hop's consummate goofball had a serious, dramatic side, with his searing portrayal of a young con artist in "Six Degrees of Separation." Leading roles in "Bad Boys" and "Independence Day" would follow, and Smith quickly found himself as one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood. Fifteen years later, he has yet to relinquish the throne. While Jazzy Jeff was busy getting thrown out of houses, Smith picked up Best Actor Academy Award nominations for his portrayal of boxer Muhammad Ali in "Ali" and in 2006's" The Pursuit of Happyness."
Ever since Bing Crosby starred in the 1930 film "King of Jazz," countless musicians have tried, with varying degrees of success, to parlay their musical ability into a side career in film.
The following list -- dug up in honor of this Sunday's Video Music Awards on MTV -- is proof that not all musicians are created equal when it comes to their acting abilities.
For every Mariah Carey in "Precious," you can find a Mariah Carey in "Glitter," but these 40 artists have shown that they can, at least some of the time, create memorable roles and transcend their musical careers. Sometimes, they even win Oscars.40. Madonna
During the nascent years of MTV, no female artist had more influence visually than the Material Girl, whose mix of eye-popping fantasy and gritty urban realism videos continue to influence a generation of vocalists. Despite a Best Actress Golden Globe for 1996's "Evita," the singer's cinematic output has had mixed results, with heartfelt performances like "A League of Their Own" offset by the dreariness of "Shanghai Surprise" and "Body of Evidence." Bonus points for "Truth or Dare," though.39. Michael Jackson
Five years before his 1983, 14-minute masterpiece "Thriller" would forever change the way music videos were created and perceived, the King of Pop was donning a wig and hay for his role as Scarecrow in Sidney Lumet's "The Wiz," an urban retelling of the "The Wizard of Oz." After "Thriller," the singer would go on to star in Francis Ford Coppola's "Captain EO" and as himself in the bizarrely wonderful "Moonwalker." Jackson also had a brief but memorable cameo in "Men In Black 2." MJ in a film about weird, alien beings. Sometimes the jokes write themselves.38. Bow Wow
"Rapper-turned-actor" is a cliché that's nearly as old as hip-hop itself. Yet The Artist Formerly Known as Lil Bow Wow successfully parlayed his musical success -- dude was 11 when his debut album dropped -- into film with the surprisingly popular 2002 basketball film "Like Mike." But it was his lead in the memorable 2005 coming-of-age dramedy "Roll Bounce," however, that convinced us Bow Wow had the right moves for the big screen. His most recent starring role was alongside veteran rapper-actor Ice Cube in "Lottery Ticket," which didn't exactly redefine cinema, but did well enough for Bow Wow to sustain his dual careers.37. Snoop Dogg
Has Snoop Dogg really been in 34 feature films?! Has anyone seen three-quarters of them? Yet for every "Boss'n Up" (?) and "Da Game of Life" (??), there are notable roles in "Training Day," "Starsky & Hutch" and our favorite: the urban horror film "Hood of Horror." In keeping with his acceptance of any single thing offered to him, the rapper has lent his smooth, distinguishable voice to a number of animated films and has executive produced numerous non-animated porns, including the brilliantly named "Snoop Dogg's Buckwild Bus Tour." Add on a series of documentary narrations and you have a damn near one-man acting empire.36. Bjork
When it was announced that Bjork would not only compose the score but play the lead role in Lars Von Trier's 2001 tragedy "Dancer in the Dark," a million amateur comics made the same "it will be weird and crazy" jokes. They stopped laughing after the singer's performance as an immigrant scrounging up money for her son's eye operation brought many who watched it to tears. The Icelandic singer snagged a Best Actress award at Cannes, but wouldn't return to film until "Drawing Restraint 9," the 2009 experimental film directed by her partner Matthew Barney.35. Mick Jagger
Cult sci-fi lovers will probably assume Sir Mick is on this list for his role as an evil mercenary in "Freejack." Well, sorta. Not counting concert/band films like Jean-Luc Godard's "Sympathy for the Devil" and The Maysles Brothers' "Gimme Shelter," where Mick convincingly plays Mick, the singer makes the list for 1970's "Performance," where he somehow plays a debauched musician who provides the hideout to various miscreants and criminals. An uncensored biopic about his life would trump any of these films.34. Chris Isaak
Even before crooner Chris Isaak broke through with 1991's "Wicked Game," the most sex-drenched country song MTV has ever played, the California singer-songwriter had turned up in 1988's "Married to the Mob" as The Clown. Authority figures would follow, as the singer with the classic 1950s good looks portrayed a SWAT Commander in "Silence of the Lambs" and a special agent in David Lynch's "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me." His roles have trailed off a bit, but he could last be seen in 2009's "The Informers."33. Mariah Carey
Good news: Mariah Carey received her first award after only her second film. Bad news: It was a Razzie for Worst Actress for 2001's "Glitter," which scored a 7 percent critic-approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. There was only one way to go from there. After roles in a few direct-to-video and little-seen films, Carey makes the list for her "Where did that come from?" performance as a social worker in 2009's "Precious." Dressed down, cleavage hidden and faint moustache applied (or grown), Carey's subtle, strong portrayal was a 180 from her "Look at me!" persona the singer displayed for the previous 16 years.32. Ludacris
Chris "Ludacris" Bridges has come a long way from voicing Weathers in "Lil' Pimp." (We don't remember that either.) As a carjacker in "Crash," Paul Haggis' ensemble film/college freshman realization (Everyone's a little bit racist sometimes!), Bridges' naturalistic style upstaged some of his more experienced peers. A supporting role in the sleeper hit "Hustle and Flow" would follow, though "Max Payne" and "Gamer," the latter of which the rapper called "the greatest movie of all time" to Rotten Tomatoes, mostly led to shrugs.
The former Destiny's Child frontwoman polarized critics in "Austin Powers in Goldmember," Mike Myers' third film and second inferior cash-in to "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery." But Beyoncé is best, understandably, in roles that combine music with acting, as on 2006's "Dreamgirls" and 2008's "Cadillac Records." In the latter, a sortakindabutnotreally accurate account of the founding of pioneering blues/R&B label Chess Records, Knowles excels as legendary singer Etta James. Stick to drama and you'll be higher on this list next year.30. Tom Waits
With a reclusive demeanor, eccentric reputation and rasp that suggests 30 years of bad bourbon and too many cigarettes, Tom Waits has been the perfect go-to whenever a director needs that cool, yet detached, badass. A staple in early 1980s coming-of-age films ("The Outsiders," "Rumble Fish"), Waits has become a favorite of independent film god Jim Jarmusch ("Down By Law," "Mystery Train," "Coffee and Cigarettes") and fantastical director Terry Gilliam ("The Fisher King," "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.") When Waits appeared as The Devil in "Parnassus," the singer-songwriter's fans presumably went, "What took so long?"29. Jennifer Lopez
It's easy to mock J. Lo's film career, given that two of her films ("Gigli" and "Jersey Girl") continue to make myriad worst-of lists and others ("Monster-in-Law," U-Turn") are pointless retreads of extremely well-worn territory ("A woman battling her mother-in-law?? Brilliant!"). But when she shines, as she does on the hallucinogenic "The Cell" or opposite George Clooney in the beloved romantic thriller "Out of Sight," Lopez brings both empathy and power to the role. She's currently the highest-paid Latin actress in film history. Not bad for someone who got their start as a Fly Girl on "In Living Color."28. Dwight Yoakam
Country star Dwight Yoakam has played a combination of policeman and psychopaths so well you're almost waiting for a severed head to be discovered in his fridge or hear about the signer making a citizen's arrest. Sure, he was fun as Dr. Miles in the video-game-on-coke "Crank" series, but his most powerful roles are as lunatics, most notably as the alcoholic a-hole in "Sling Blade," and the evilest burglar in David Fincher's "Panic Room." Who would've thought someone with the innocuous name "Dwight Yoakam" could be so evil?27. Deborah Harry
The Blondie lead singer was a New York mainstay in the mid-1970s to early-1980s, establishing herself as a linchpin of the then-burgeoning punk and New Wave scene. Beginning in 1976, the singer would pop up, often haphazardly, in whatever projects her friends were working on at the time, including the quasi-fictional downtown New York classic "Downtown 81" (shot in 1981 but released in 2001). Harry's acting career went mainstream in David Cronenberg's "Videodrome," which sees the singer portray a sadomasochistic psychiatrist to scummy TV network president James Woods. These days, most of her "acting" comes from documentaries reminiscing about the glory days.26. Harry Connick Jr.
One year before his film debut in "Memphis Belle," crooner Harry Connick Jr., a.k.a. the man who has caused a million middle-aged panties to be thrown on stage, earned worldwide acclaim with his compositions for the soundtrack to "When Harry Met Sally." Over the past 20 years, Connick Jr. has somehow found a way to release an album and film a movie at least once a year, with notable roles in "Little Man Tate" and "Independence Day." But go watch "Copycat" tonight and tell us there's a smoother serial killer than him.25. LL Cool J
In recent years, the Def Jam godfather has preferred small-screen roles such as "NCIS" and "House," but the versatile entertainer has done everything from comedy ("Toys") to horror ("Halloween: H2O 20 Years Later") to action ("Deep Blue Sea") to whatever the hell "Rollerball" was supposed to be. In one of life's most ironic twists, as running back Julian Washington in "Any Given Sunday," Uncle L gets mad at someone else for excessive cockiness. Acting!
As big as he is, Marshall Mathers could've had a Kanye-like reign over pop culture had he not dropped out of the spotlight to stop the pill-popping that was dominating his life. After one of the best rapper/actor performances in the quasi-autobiographical "8 Mile," the rapper is making up for lost time, signing up for the boxing film "Southpaw," the 3-D horror film "Shady Talez" and an ex-con torn between his past partners in crime and FBI agents in "Random Acts of Violence." And judging by his cameo in Judd Apatow's "Funny People," Em's funny even when he's angry, so win-win.23. Tim McGraw
Tim McGraw will probably always be known as one of the biggest country singers in the world, but even international singers need side hustles. Fans of "Friday Night Lights," (the 2004 movie, not the show) will recognize McGraw as Charles Billingsley, the tough father to fullback Don. Five years later, McGraw would star in his biggest movie to date as wealthy businessman Sean Tuohy in "The Blind Side," pulling off a surprisingly convincing performance. The signer returned to more familiar territory in 2010, playing a country singer in Shana Feste's "Country Strong."22. Meat Loaf
Whether you like his histrionic brand of theatrical, operatic pop or not, Meat Loaf's hulking frame and innocent-looking face have made him a casting director's wet dream when the role calls for a Gentle Giant. Getting his start in the 1975 cult classic "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," the singer has popped up semi-regularly in everything from "Angels in the Outfield" to "Wayne's World." But to David Fincher and Chuck Palahniuk fans, he'll always be Robert "Bitch Tits" Paulson from "Fight Club." You just can't unsee the image of Loaf cradling Edward Norton between his heaving bosom.21. Sean "Diddy" Combs
Since he's contractually obligated to engage in every business or creative venture at least once, no one was shocked when Combs showed up as a drug dealer in Jon Favreau's "Made." What was surprising was that he was the best part of the film and would go on to a respectable acting career in such films as "Monster's Ball" and "Get Him to the Greek" (the latter of which he managed to steal from co-stars Russell Brand and Jonah Hill). Now that we know "I'm Still Here" is a hoax, Combs' meeting with Joaquin Phoenix goes down as his best performance to date.Get 20-1>>