From Song to Screen: Musicians on TV


From Song to Screen: Musicians on TV


This week in music news, it was announced that Ezra Koenig (of Vampire Weekend fame) has released Neo Yokio, an anime series he created, co-wrote and co-produced. Featuring the likes of Jaden Smith, Jude Law, Susan Sarandon, Jason Schwartzman, Steve Buscemi, Tavi Gevinson and more, it’s a project that’s been years in the making, with some serious names involved.


In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Koenig expressed that he “didn’t have a strong sense of what [he] wanted to express as a songwriter, lyricist, musician”, leading to his desire to try expressing himself differently.


After a decade of constantly challenging himself as a musician and creating 3 albums with Vampire Weekend, he felt it was time to challenge his creativity in other ways. Hence, the jump to writing for the screen.


But, it got me thinking… he’s not the first musician to move over to television and film.


Here, I’ve tried to list my favourite examples of musicians who’ve made the jump to TV or film, excluding soundtrack work. The only difference here is that the examples are of people who appear in front of the camera. Some serious, some cameo, but all good easter eggs for the musically-minded viewers.


Nothing will ever beat Kanye West’s appearances in Entourage or Anchorman 2, but here goes, anyway.


Lights, camera, action!


🎬 📽


David Bowie - Extras


Yes, yes, I know… Bowie’s history on-screen is richer than this single pop-up in a BBC sitcom. He deserves his own post dedicated to his screen work. Labyrinth and The Man Who Fell to Earth spring to mind. But, this interview about his cameo appearance in Ricky Gervais’ Extras showcases his brilliant sense of humour; the original clip had me in stitches when I first saw it.



Prince - New Girl


Prince invites Jess (Zooey Deschanel) round for coffee to share love advice. Because that’s what happens in New York. Celebrities meet up with the public for coffee all the time.

Amongst the awkward silence after being called ‘stupid’ and the force-feeding of a pancake, you can see that his dry delivery compliments this twee American sitcom.



Sigur Ros - Game of Thrones


Not sure if you’ve heard of this little-known show, but it’s apparently quite good. Set in a mythical kingdom with dragons and stuff, it also features heavily on musical cameos. Mastodon, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, and Snow Patrol are amongst this list of Medieval easter eggs, but Sigur Ros’ appearance was a nice surprise. Extra marks to Jonsi for playing the world’s tiniest accordion with such skill.



Extra Curricular Viewing:


  • Katy Perry in How I Met Your Mother
  • The Horrors in The Mighty Boosh
  • Death Cab For Cutie in The OC
  • Sonic Youth in Gossip Girl
  • Literally every band that’s been in The Simpsons ever
4 Replies

Community Legend

@Jack Cool topic! These are my picks from the movies I had watched in the past.


Kanye West & Justin Timberlake - Love Guru (2008)

Justin was a supporting actor in it but Kanye was a cameo and totally unexpected.


Keith Richards - Pirates of Caribbean: At World's End (2007)

The guitarist of Rolling Stones also made a special appearance as Jack Sparrow's dad, Edward Teague.


Ian Brown - Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

And also the lead singer of Stone Roses was a cameo in Harry Potter.


Thanks @rossi1911 and @Jpgchief for your feedback and further suggestions!


Ahh yeah, forgot about the Harry Potter films. Jonny Greenwood and Philip Selway of Radiohead fame also appear in one of those films somewhere, as a band at Hogwarts prom. And who's fronting the fictional band?.. None other than Pulp's very own Jarvis Cocker


Gutted I forgot to include that one in the original post! A triple-scorer, there. 

Community Legend

@Jack One that comes to mind is Common! He was in John Wick 2, Suicide Squad, Selma and many other movies as well as several TV shows including 'Hell on Wheels'.


Obviously that leads to another famous hip hop artist in Mos Def, who featured in Dexter! 

Rock Star 14
Rock Star 14

@Jack you did your homework!!!


Right now just can think in Sting and this TED Talk where he talks about how the music came back to him after many years that he stop writting and this album was made thinking in a theatre performance  but they have to cloose on Broadway beacuse they were loosing money, it's a shame I really love the album that is autobiographical.



JpgchiefRock Star 14
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