11 Unexpected Musical Collaborations

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When two musically disparate acts collaborate, the end results can be ... interesting. 

1. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Phil Collins: “Home”

Bone Thugs N Harmony Feat. Phil Collins Home by Robinho68

While the song “Home” from Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s fifth studio album, Thug World Order, failed to chart on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 2003, the rappers’ collaboration with British singer/songwriter Phil Collins gained commercial success in the United Kingdom. The Cleveland-based rappers used a sample from Phil Collins’ 1985 hit song “Take Me Home” as the foundation for “Home,” and would later make Collins an honorary member of their rap collective, even giving the 62-year-old a new moniker: “Chrome Bone.”

2. Weezer and Lil Wayne: “Can’t Stop Partying”

The song “Can’t Stop Partying” was featured on Rivers Cuomo’s collection of demo songs, Alone II: The Home Records of Rivers Cuomo, released in 2008. In 2009, the 43-year-old rock star released a full version on Weezer’s seventh album Raditude. Co-written and produced by Jermaine Dupri, the catchy pop song featured a rap verse from Lil Wayne. The line “OK b**** it’s Weezer and it’s Weezy” perfectly sums up this strange musical collaboration.

3. Lou Reed and Metallica: LuLu

Lulu, the last full-length record from Lou Reed, was a collaboration between the singer/songwriter and heavy metal giants Metallica, released in 2011. The unlikely pairing stemmed from playing together during the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th Anniversary Concert a few years earlier. Lulu is a concept album that features heavy instrumentals from Metallica and mostly spoken word compositions from Reed that were loosely based on two plays from German playwright Frank Wedekind. While the collaboration record received mostly negative reviews from critics, Lulu debuted in the #36 spot on the U.S. Billboard 200.

4. The Jonas Brothers and Common: “Don’t Charge Me for the Crime”

Released on the Jonas Brothers' fourth and final record, Lines, Vines and Trying Times, the song “Don’t Charge Me for the Crime” featured their first real rap collaboration (the trio's bodyguard contributing a verse to "Burnin' Up" doesn't count) with rapper Common. Tom Brelhan at Pitchfork said the collaboration was "the weirdest teen-idol/credible-rapper team up since at least Blake Lewis/Lupe Fiasco. ... The way the song is structured, it actually sounds like a story about Common and the Jonas Brothers teaming up to rob a bank, which is probably the funniest image I've had in my head all day."

5. Public Enemy and Anthrax: “Bring the Noise”

In 1991, Public Enemy re-recorded their hit song “Bring the Noise” in a collaboration with Thrash Metal band Anthrax in a way to bridge the gap between the Rap and Heavy Metal music genres. The song was featured on Public Enemy’s fourth record Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Black, and it also appeared on Anthrax’s compilation record Attack of the Killer B’s. The collaboration spawned a joint tour that featured the unlikely bands, and each show ended with Public Enemy and Anthrax on stage performing the song.

“Bring the Noise” would go on to inspire the Rap Metal genre and would influence bands such as Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Linkin Park.

6. Jack White and Alicia Keys: “Another Way To Die”

The song “Another Way to Die” is a duet featuring Garage Rock singer/songwriter Jack White and R&B superstar Alicia Keys. Written for Quantum of Solace in 2008, the song was the first duet released for a James Bond film. While the song received a mixed critical response when compared to other songs from James Bond movies (which include Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger,” Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die,” and Nancy Sinatra’s “You Only Live Twice”), “Another Way to Die” peaked at #9 on the U.K. Singles Chart and was Alicia Keys' first hit song in various countries throughout Europe.

7. Kanye West and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver): “Lost in the World”

In 2010, Kanye West released the song “Lost in the World” from his record My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The song featured Indie Folk artist Justin Vernon as well as a sample from his band Bon Iver’s song “Woods” from their 2009 Blood Bank EP. While the unlikely pairing stemmed from West’s sampling Bon Iver’s song, Vernon ended up producing 10 tracks for West’s fifth studio album. Vernon also worked with West on his 2013 album Yeezus.

8. Nelly and Tim McGraw: “Over and Over”

In 2004, rapper Nelly released the song “Over and Over” for his fourth album, Suit. The song featured country music superstar Tim McGraw and centered on the artists coming to terms with a nasty breakup. The song was a certified Platinum hit in 2004, and peaked at the #3 spot on the Billboard Top 100. The music video for “Over and Over” featured Nelly and McGraw in split screen as the pair went through their individual days performing the same errands on their way to different luxury private jets.

9. Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith: “Walk this Way”

The song “Walk this Way” was a big hit for Aerosmith in 1975. But by the time the '80s rolled around, the band had lost the favor of young listeners, as new music genres such as Glam Metal and Pop Music swept music charts. Enter Run-D.M.C. In 1986, the rap trio covered “Walk this Way” as a hip-hop re-imagining with the help of Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith. Produced by hip-hop icons Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, “Walk this Way” peaked at the #4 spot on the Billboard Top 100 and was the first hip-hop song to crack the Top 5. Run D.M.C’s “Walk this Way” popularized hip-hop in the United States and revived Aerosmith’s career.

10. Brad Paisley and L.L. Cool J: “Accidental Racist”

Appearing on Brad Paisley’s 2013 album Wheelhouse, the song “Accidental Racist” featured hip-hop recording artist LL Cool J. The song examined the state of racism in the United States and was a call to reappropriate the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern heritage. The result was one of the most controversial songs of 2013.

11. Eddie Murphy and Michael Jackson: “Whatzupwitu”

In 1993, Eddie Murphy released the song “Whatzupwitu” featuring the King of Pop, who decided to collaborate with the actor-turned-recording-artist because he felt the song had a positive message. While the song saw moderate success on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, peaking at #74, its music video is considered one of the worst of all time. It wasn't the first time the duo collaborated: Murphy appeared in Jackson’s music video for “Remember the Time" in 1992.

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December 11, 2013 - 12:11pm
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