Maditude Adjustment: “Respect Yourself”

Because I was born in the late ‘90s, I knew Bruce Willis as an action star. The first film I recall seeing him in was “Twelve Monkeys” and since then, I’ve only known him as the action hero star that we’re all familiar with. It took me a number of years to go through Willis’ popular filmography. I watched “Die Hard” for the first time a few years ago and “The Fifth Element” just earlier this year. But I still felt like I had a good idea of the kind of actor he was based on “Pulp Fiction” and “Armageddon”—which I’m not sure if I’ve actually seen or just know the storyline.

Little did I know, Bruce Willis tried his hand in the music world in the late ‘80s. So imagine my surprise when I find out that when Willis covered The Staple Singers’ “Respect Yourself” in 1987, he made it to number five on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also listed as number 468 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” The song was even inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame!

Now, I am not unfamiliar with ‘80s music—it’s not a musical world I would say I know too much about, but I can get down to The Talking Heads or Oingo Boingo every now and then. I didn’t expect myself to get down to Willis’ one-hit wonder the way that I did. This may be because I am prone to bad dancing when I’m alone, or because it’s pretty dang catchy.

The music video was pretty great as well. It begins with a little scene showing Willis tending bar and eventually turns into a huge dance scene with him blasting tunes on his harmonica. The little scenes that had Willis acting were familiar, but the singing and dancing seemed so foreign to me. That was Bruce Willis’ voice. And that hair line is unmistakable. It was just strange. Bruce Willis. Singing.

The best part, though, was that Willis had a stage name! He went by the name Bruno Radolini. Seriously. And you can tell that he was into this name because of the album name “Return of Bruno” and the cartoon—yes, cartoon—“Bruno the Kid.” Starring a little blonde kid and, wait for it, a CGI rendering of Willis himself. The theme for Bruno the Kid could also be sung by Willis—who knows? He had a secret career singing blues and rock music!

Bruno isn’t a completely surprising character for Willis to play. He masculine, confident—Bruce Willis-y. It was just a surprise to see him singing. Anyhow, I find Bruce Willis charming—especially John McClane-era Bruce.

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