The SFX Factor Showdown

To coincide with The X-Factor final this Saturday, we’ve decided to resurrect a classic feature with an experimental twist (that could all go hideously wrong)

Well, to be honest, we’ve exhumed an old feature and given it a twist, to be honest. But we think it could be fun. Or it could be a disaster. Which could be fun in its own way.

Over the next 15 pages are 15 sci-fi stars who’ve had a go at extra-curricular singing. They’re all stars who are regarded first and foremost as actors rather than actors formerly famous as singers (so no Billie Piper). And we haven’t included characters who sang as part of a regular episode.

And from now until Saturday evening, we’ll be giving you the chance to vote for your favourite!

At various times we’ll eliminate the lowest scoring singer, set up a new poll, and start all over again. And on Saturday evening, we’ll announce the winner. We’ll keep you updated on eliminations and when new voting forms are ready on Twitter , Facebook and Google + . Sorry if you don’t socially network, but caching issues make updates from the site itself unworkable. You can find the voting form for ROUND ONE here, but from then on in, you’ll need to look for Twitter, Facebook and Google + updates.

Best of all, voting is absolutely free!

And you can start… now !

(Oh, in case you’re more of a Strictly fan, we’ve catered for you here .)

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Nichelle Nichols

Best known as: Uhura in Star Trek
Singing: The theme to This Bitter Earth (2010)

Nichols started out in as a singer appearing at that New York’s Blue Angel and Playboy Clubs as a dancer and singer and has carried on singing throughout her career, gaining a reputation as a jazz singer of considerable talent. She’s release two albums, Down To Earth (1967) and Out Of This World (1991), the second of which was a misjudged attempt to move into a more rocky arena with space themed songs. But she can still belt them out, and provided this theme tune to a recent film about, guess what, a jazz singer. She once responded to the question, “What do you think of your cast mates’ singing efforts?” with the terse reply, “They’re entitled.” And on the following couple of pages you can hear what she was talking about.

Song we’d like to hear her cover: In a perfect world she would have provided the wailing vocals for the Trek theme tune, but sadly that was not to be.

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William Shatner

Best known as: James T Kirk in Star Trek
Singing: Rocket Man (1978)

Just as Shatner never let a limited range of acting talent stop him becoming a huge acting icon, he never let a total inability to sing get in the way of a singing career. His ’68 album, The Transformed Man – featuring a bizarre mix of poetry, Shakespeare and part-sung, part-shouted, part-mumbled covers of Mr Tambourine Man and Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – has become a cult classic despite Q naming it one of their worst 50 albums of all time. Nearly four decades later he teamed up with the acclaimed Ben Folds, who produced the album Has Been , which spawned a quite extraordinary version of Pulp’s Common People, and, even more extraordinarily, good reviews. Here he “transforms” Elton John’s Rocket Man , with an official endorsement from the song’s co-writer, Bernie Taupin, amazingly.

Song we’d like to hear him cover: If… You TOL…erATE This, Then… You’re Chil… dren WILL… be NEXT

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Leonard Nimoy

Best known as: Spock in Star Trek
Singing: The Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins (1968)

With a voice like a less-depressed Leonard Cohen, Nimoy embarked on a five-album singing career in 1967, thanks to the fact that the daughter of the record company’s boss was a Spock fan. That first album, Mr Spock’s Music From Outer Space , shamelessly played on the Vulcan’s popularity with dodgy songs titled things like Music To Watch Space Girls Go By and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Earth . On later albums he would start growling his way through standards like If I Had A Hammer , but his crowning glory will always by this insufferably catchy ode to Middle-earth’s most famous son.

Song we’d like to hear him cover: I Second That Emotion

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Brent Spiner

Best known as: Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation
Singing: Oye Como Va in the film Out To Sea (1997)

Spiner already had a background in musical theatre before he joined Trek , so you can forgive him using his new-found fame as a launching board to record an album, Ol’ Yellow Eyes Is Back (1991), which found him Sinatra-esque, lounge lizard mood. Since Trek he’s flexed his vocal chords (though that may not be the right phrase, as he often sounds like he’s singing out of his nose) in Broadway plays like Sunday In The Park With George and films like this, Out To Sea .

Song we’d like to hear him cover: Paranoid Android

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Gillian Anderson

Best known as: Dana Scully in The X-Files
Singing:
Extremis (1997)

Anderson was clearly an adherent of the Shatner philosophy of singing judging by the fashion in which she mumbles her way through her one and only attempt at Top 40 stardom. Recorded with a faceless dance combo called HAL and released in 1997, it reached a mighty number 23 in the UK charts.

Song we’d like to hear her cover: I Believe

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Claudia Christian

Best known as: Susan Ivanova in Babylon 5
Singing: Taboo (1998)

You just knew there was a raunchy singer inside Susan Ivanova’s always-so-neatly-ironed uniform busting to get out. Christian has so far released three albums: Claudia Squared (1996, with Claudia Cummings, hence the title), Taboo (1998) and Once Upon A Time (2001), writing or co-writing most of the songs herself. She was also part of The Be Five, a group made up of Babylon 5 cast members with Billy Mumy, Peter Jurasik, Mira Furlan and Andreas Katsulas also providing vocals. Yes, G’kar had a go at singing ! Sort of. All the songs were written by Billy Mumy. Talking of whom…

Song we’d like to hear her cover: I Kissed A Girl

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Billy Mumy

Best known as: Lennier in Babylon 5
Singing: Fishheads by Barnes and Barnes (1979)

Song we’d like to hear him cover: Bob The Builder

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Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman

Best known as: John Steed and Cathy Gale in The Avengers
Singing: Kinky Boots (1964)

Commissioned by Ned Sherrin for the satirical TV show That Was The Week That Was , Kinky Boots was inspired by the leather-clad Cathy Gale in The Avengers . It only took 24 years to make the Top Five, thanks to Radio One breakfast DJ Simon Mayo who championed the record. It was clearly his major contribution to modern culture.

Song we’d like to hear them cover: Summer Loving

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Kate Kestrel

Best known as: Kate Kestrel in Terrahawks
Singing: SOS (1983)

Okay, is this postmodernism gone mad? A character from a puppet show releasing a single? Bizarre. Admittedly, Kestrel was a pop singer in the show, so there is some logic, but honestly, if you’re going to pull off a publicity stunt like this, at least make sure the song is not completely loathsome, and also, have the courage of your convictions, and have the character sing the song on TV and not get some session singers in. Not one of Gerry Anderson’s greatest moments…

Song we’d like to hear her cover: Puppet On A String

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Carrie Fisher

Best known as: Princess Leia in Star Wars
Singing: The theme to The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

The dead hamster of the Star Wars universe, the Star Wars Holiday Special should have remained well and truly buried. But then that nice Mr Berners-Lee invented the internet, and back it came like a televisual zombie. A ghastly light-entertainment take on Lucas’s masterpiece, it featured song and dance routines, cartoons and comedy sketches. You can almost see the embarrassment etched on Fisher’s face as she has to warble this slushy tripe.

Song we’d like to hear her cover: I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper

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David Tennant

Best known as: The tenth Doctor
Singing: I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) with The Proclaimers (2009)

Okay, okay, Mr Tennant isn’t attempting to create a musical “product” here. It’s not premeditated and he doesn’t expect us to fork money out for it. It’s just Doctor 10 meeting his musical heroes and spontaneously bursting into song with them. The sheer joy on his face outweighs any, erm, inadequacies in his voice…

Song we’d like to hear him cover: Donald Where’s Your Troosers

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Amber Benson

Best known as: Tara Maclay in Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Singing: Queen Of Hearts from the film 7 Things to Do Before I'm 30 (2008)

We all realised Benson could sing when she stole the show in “Once More, With Feeling” with her magical, folky rendition of Under Your Spell . And this gutsy performance in 7 Things to Do Before I'm 30 proves that was no fluke. How come this girl doesn’t have a record deal? And while we’re on the subject of Buffy cast members…

Song we’d like to hear him cover: Puff The Magic Dragon (in an Eva Cassidy style)

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Adam Busch

Best known as: Warren Mears in Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Singing: Wasted Words by Common Rotation (2008)

Busch, who played the evilest of the geek trio in Buffy ’s sixth season, has been lead singer with quirky power pop band Common Rotation since his college days. And check out who directed this promo video for them…

Song we’d like to hear them cover: Birdhouse In Your Soul

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James Marsters

Best known as: Spike in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel
Singing: A song (2009)

You knew he was going to put in an appearance sooner or later. He formed the band Ghost Of The Robot before going solo, and he tours constantly. He loves to rock’n’roll basically, and you need to keep your eye on this page for the latest live appearance news. Now we'll shut up, because we can't be heard over the screams anyway.

Song we’d like to hear him cover: Tubthumping

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Terri Hatcher, Greg Grunberg and others

Best known as: Lois Lane ( Lois & Clark ), Parkman ( Heroes) and others
Singing: Before He Cheats (2008)

Saving the best… well, maybe not best but biggest till last, Band From TV (see what they did there, pun fans?) is a charity band comprised of TV stars that was the brainchild of Greg Grunberg. The role call is an ever-changing bunch of whoever’s available and up-for it-which has included at Chuck ’s Zachary Levi and Lost ’s Jorge Garcia in guest appearances. More regular contributors are Heroes ’ Adrian Pasdar on guitar, House ’s Hugh Laurie on keyboards and Jesse Spencer on violin. Grunberg plays drums.

Song we’d like to hear them cover: Feed The World

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So that’s your main feature, but before we leave…

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Just a couple of oddities we’ve uncovered in the course of research, but you can’t vote for them…

David Boreanaz

Best known as: Angel in Angel
Singing: Badly (2000)

This doesn’t count as it wasn’t “extra-curricula”, but an outtake shown over the closing credits of an episode. But it’s good fun.

Servalan

Best known as: The Evil Ruler Of The Federation
Singing: The Great Gig in the Sky by Pink Floyd (2008)

The kind of thing the internet was created for. Genius. Though we could have done without the laugh track at the end – yeah, it was supposed to be funny, we got that!

Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Nicholas Courtney, Anthony Ainley and others

Best known as: Various Doctor Who bods (if you really don’t know them, Google)
Singing: Doctor In Distress (1985)

Only start the below video running if you have a very strong stomach

Hideous single released when the BBC put Doctor Who on hiatus in 1985 in the middle of Colin Baker’s era to try to pressure the Beeb into bringing the show back. Clearly it worked; it must have been one of those, “YES! YES! YES! We’ll do whatever you ask if you just promise never to play that song again!” situations.

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