They can act but can they sing?

They can act but can they sing?
Can Maggie Cheung pull off rock star?

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.

This article was published on May 11 in The Straits Times.

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