The label “triple threat” gets thrown around a lot in the entertainment industry. So much so, that its meaning has gotten a little watered down by using it to describe entertainers who are good at — but maybe not truly exceptional at — a particular skill.
But then there are the rare performers for whom that descriptor is entirely accurate, and maybe even an understatement. One of those people is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whom many people know from his impressive, lengthy acting career or from his passion project, the online collaborative production company HitRecord.
But did you know he can sing, too? Like, really, really, really SING?
If you didn’t, you’re in luck: Gordon-Levitt is guest starring on “The Muppets” Tuesday night (Dec. 1) to sing a duet with Miss Piggy (they’re tackling Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to The Moon” because they’re a hella classy duo).
And if you’re familiar with JGL’s filmography, you know he’s gotten to flex his pipes in a few different roles. He was adorably charming while drunkenly singing karaoke in “500 Days of Summer.” Then there was that time he jammed out to Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s “Good Vibrations” in “Don Jon.” And he even sings “Wrecking Ball” with Miley Cyrus in the new holiday comedy “The Night Before,” which is definitely worth the watch.
But Gordon-Levitt is arguably at his best and most swoon-worthy when he’s singing live. And luckily for us, there are plenty of examples of him commanding stages and wooing audiences all across the country. Check out 13 of his best live cover performances:
“Lithium” by Nirvana
Gordon-Levitt surprised this lucky Seattle crowd with a tribute to one of their hometown heroes (props to him for not being predictable and going the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” route). The only thing better than his raspy performance was the mid-song salute he gave to Kurt Cobain: “You know, it seems like every time people bring up Nirvana, people want to talk about how Mr. Cobain killed himself,” he said. “And I gotta say, it doesn’t matter to me… it doesn’t matter that he’s dead, it doesn’t matter how he died. His songs are f—king awesome, that’s what matters.” Amen.
“Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga
JGL has a ton of fun with this cover. He’s equal parts goofy and angsty, and he even nails the French lines and gives a cheeky shoutout to Gaga: “Now for those still doubting the artistic integrity of Lady Gaga, this next verse has three Hitchcock references AND the use of the word ‘shtick.’”
“Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Lady Gaga
Three years after that “Bad Romance” performance, JGL teamed up with Gaga for this expertly choreographed duet. What makes this rendition so memorable, though, is that they gender-swapped the roles in the song (which ultimately makes it a little less creepy, TBH).
"La Valse à Mille Temps” by Jacques Brel
Fun fact No. 1: Gordon-Levitt is fluent in French. Fun fact No. 2: When he sings in French, he is just about the dreamiest man on the planet, as evidenced by this endearing little tune dedicated to Paris. It picks up speed by the end, but JGL never falters and caps it with a triumphant “Merci, New York!”
“Twist and Shout” by The Beatles
You know when you listen to a song and you can practically hear the artist smiling? This is what that looks like. While making an appearance on an oldies radio station, Gordon-Levitt busted out this charming Beatles cover, even recruiting the DJs as backup vocalists.
“Thriller” by Michael Jackson
As great as JGL is when he’s accompanied by just a guitar, he really ups the ante when he’s got a whole band behind him. On Halloween 2011, he performed “Thriller” while wearing a bloodied-up suit and doing his best impression of The Cures frontman Robert Smith (seriously, it’s kind of uncanny how much he sounds like him). He even does the mid-song monologue and dramatically pretends to faint on the ground, before hopping offstage and dancing in the crowd. Dude’s a natural showman.
“Don’t Look Back In Anger” by Oasis
In a rare piano-accompanied performance, Gordon-Levitt stunned with this Oasis classic, nailing every single note.
“You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes
Joe goes WAYYY up in this clever little cover. As in, this might be the highest pitch we’ve ever heard him in… and it’s even more impressive that he manages to sing in that register for the whole song.
“Ignition” by R. Kelly
So… when JGL asks, “Who here likes sex?” and then says, “Me too,” it’s basically life-changing. I can attest to this because yours truly was in the crowd for this “Ignition” cover, and MAN, it was great. Gordon-Levitt really gives this performance his all, which you can see when he’s practically gasping for air by the end. But damn it if it wasn’t life-changing.
“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” with Zooey Deschanel
The “500 Days of Summer” costars reunited for this simple, unassuming holiday ditty, and their voices blend together like a peanut butter and jelly milkshake. Yum.
“Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin
It takes a secure man to sing this tune, and Gordon-Levitt did it justice with his earnest and emotional rendition.
“Redneck Woman” by Gretchen Wilson
Once again proving he’s totally game to sing a woman’s anthem, Gordon-Levitt wooed this Missouri audience with Wilson’s country classic, piling on the infectious energy. “Hell yeah!”
“I Don’t Wanna Live On The Moon” from “Sesame Street”
Gordon-Levitt’s take on this childhood classic will make you feel a lot of things: Peaceful, because it’s like a lullaby. Nostalgic, because it’s from a well-loved kids show you probably watched at one point in your life. And maybe a little sad, because the actor gives a heartfelt speech beforehand about what the song means to him, linking it to his late brother’s life. It’s simply beautiful.