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Ryan Gosling's musical history: a timeline

Melody Lau

Actor Ryan Gosling is looking to flex both his acting and singing muscles in the upcoming film La La Land by director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench). In the film that’s currently making its rounds on the festival circuit, including a stop at this week’s Toronto International Film Festival, it follows the fantastical and musical love story of jazz musician Sebastian (Gosling) and aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone). In an early trailer for the film, which officially hits theatres on Dec. 2, viewers are treated to a little tune by Gosling as he sings over a simple, saccharine piano part.

This isn’t Gosling’s first time singing, though, both on and off-screen. In fact, Gosling has quite the extensive musical history dating all the way back to his early days coming up in the show biz alongside pop stars Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.

So, to gear up for Gosling’s upcoming film, let’s revisit all the times Gosling has wowed us not with his acting or charm, but instead with his beautiful skills in music and performing live. 

Childhood talent shows (early '90s)

It was clear at a very young age that Gosling was a talented singer and dancer. He would show off these skills at local talent shows, like the one seen below. Here, Gosling wows the audience with his rendition of Percy Sledge’s classic, “When a Man Loves a Woman,” in addition to teaming up with his sister Mandi to perform a dynamic dance number to C+C Music Factory’s 1990 smash “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now).” Young Gosling even hops into the crowd to show off his moves.

Mickey Mouse Club (1993-1994)

At the age of 12, Gosling was recruited as a Mouseketeer on the Disney Channel’s The Mickey Mouse Club alongside other notable up-and-comers like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez. On the show, Gosling honed in on his skills in singing, dancing and acting. From the looks of the clip below, Gosling could’ve had a very promising career in a boy band but alas, he followed up his Mickey Mouse Club stint with roles on a number of Canadian television shows including Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Breaker High.

Fun fact: Gosling and Timberlake lived together during this time because Timberlake’s mom was temporarily Gosling’s guardian in the U.S., while Gosling’s mother stayed in Canada to work. 

Interim years

Gosling spent most of the early 2000s focusing on building his acting portfolio, with breakout roles in The Notebook and Half Nelson, the latter scoring him an Oscar nomination for best actor. It appeared that Gosling never let go of his love of music, though, dabbling in playing and performing, as seen in this YouTube video posted by user Rich Clark. In it, a young Gosling — we estimate that this might be roughly around the time of his aforementioned TV gigs — plays an acoustic guitar while singing with Clark at a show of some sort. There’s not much detail about this performance but it’s safe to say Gosling maintained an interest in both singing and acting post-Mickey Mouse Club.

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

Sometimes, Gosling’s acting gigs involve a little singing, such as 2007’s oddball film Lars and the Real Girl. In this scene, Gosling, who plays main protagonist Lars, serenades his sex-doll girlfriend with Nat King Cole’s “L.O.V.E.” It may be a bit animated, but Gosling’s voice is endearing nonetheless.

Dead Man’s Bones (2009)

Gosling took an acting break between Lars and the Real Girl and 2010’s Blue Valentine to put out an album with his friend Zach Shields. Together, they were called Dead Man’s Bones, and their self-titled album was a collaboration with the Silverlake Conservatory Children’s Choir. Gosling sang and played guitar, piano and the bass. Dead Man’s Bones toured in 2009 and 2010 and even performed at the FYF Festival in Los Angeles in 2010. The band hasn’t been active since 2012, but many are still hoping for more music from Gosling and Shields.

Blue Valentine (2010)

Gosling continued to bring his musical skills into his films in Blue Valentine. In this scene with his onscreen girlfriend (played by Michelle Williams), Gosling plays the ukulele while singing her the Mills Brothers’ “You Always Hurt the One You Love.” “I can’t really sing,” he tells Williams. “I have to sing goofy in order to sing, like I have to sing stupid.” What lies! Even in his strange, quasi-Elvis impression he sounds charming. As Williams points out, “You’re actually good!”

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

The man can even sing in Spanish! Watch in this scene from the 2012 film The Place Beyond the Pines.

Saturday Night Live (2015)

When Gosling hosted Saturday Night Live last year, he teamed up with fellow Canadian actor Mike Myers in his opening monologue to sing about Canada. He even dances a little, but totally gets outdone by Myers. 

La La Land (2016)

While we’re still waiting for a new Dead Man’s Bones album, fans can enjoy Gosling’s sweet singing voice in La La Land, a film that has been picking up a lot of critical praise over the past few months. With all the evidence that’s been presented to you, there’s no doubt that Gosling will do great in this film, both as an actor and an experienced musician.

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