Rock of Ages first listen: Can Tom Cruise actually sing?

Critics get a taste of the actor's take on Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me" in the upcoming rock musical — and they aren't so sweet on it

Tom Cruise certainly pulls off the look of the '80s rockers he's fashioned after, but his vocals aren't as on point.
(Image credit: 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

The audio: Tom Cruise is, apparently, "hot sticky sweet." But can he sing? Ever since the Mission: Impossible star was cast in the upcoming musical Rock of Ages, based on the jukebox Broadway show of the same name, critics wondered whether he had the vocal chops to pull off the role. In the film, out June 15, Cruise plays Stacee Jaxx, a bare-chested, chaps-wearing rocker in the mold of Poison's Bret Michaels, who is tasked with belting out rock and roll classics like "Paradise City" and "Wanted Dead or Alive." The first audio clip of the actor singing the Def Leppard track "Pour Some Sugar On Me" was released Tuesday. (Listen to it below.) Cruise claims that the hair band already gave his performance its stamp of approval.

The reaction: Cruise may look the part of the long-haired, tatted-up rocker in the preview images we've seen, says Mary Ouellette at Loudwire, but his vocals are too Broadway. He lacks Def Leppard's "imperfections and reckless abandon," and sounds "more like he's singing a showtune than a rock anthem." What vocals? says Billy Dukes at Ultimate Classic Rock. He's drowned out by the ramped-up background production. While Cruise's version will bring the classic track to a new audience, "it fails to separate itself form the original in any remarkable way." He sounds fine, says Katey Rich at Cinema Blend. Cruise "always seemed like one of those people who can do just about everything well." The true test, though, will be whether he can pull off those crazy '80s dance moves. Listen to Cruise's "Sugar" rendition:

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