With a vast variety of genres in the music world, it’s inevitable that unusual crossover collaborations will arise – for better or for worse. Pop legend Tony Bennett and modern soulstress Amy Winewine’s recent duet on “Body and Soul” was a collaboration in the “for better” category, even winning the award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 54th annual Grammy Awards. For better or for worse, countless collaborations have surfaced over the years that have either leave us swooning or left us slightly traumatized. Below, we’ve pulled up a few of the most eye-brow raising collaboration’s in recent years for you to rank: Which are “for better” and which are “for worse”?
Kanye West and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) – “Lost In the World” (2010)
It’s hard to imagine Kanye West and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver meeting in Hawaii, maybe sipping margaritas on the beach, and discussing over breakfast how “Lost in the World” would be West’s closing song at his Coachella performance, which Vernon joined him for (along with a giant backdrop depicting a battle between Greek gods and ballerina dancers prancing around in nude leotards). But Vernon did lend his 2009 “Woods” as a sample on West’s “Lost in the World,” changing his vocals from “I’m up in the woods” to “I’m lost in the world” towards the end of the song, which features his signature falsetto croon that serves as a complimentary contrast to West’s sharp rapping.
Alicia Keys and Jack White (The White Stripes) – “Another Way To Die” (2008)
Movie soundtracks can be a hotbed for otherwise unrealized musical mashups. When Jack White said he would use the main riff in “Seven Nation Army” if he were ever asked to write a James Bond movie theme (an unlikely possibility to him at the time), little did he know he would later be asked to write another song for the famed film series, in “Quantum Solace.” White has also worked with Loretta Lynn, Wanda Jackson, Tom Jones and Insane Clown Posse (a collaboration equally as awkward as Ozzy Osbourne and Miss Piggy on The Muppet Show), some of which listeners might speculatively attribute to late-night rounds at the bar.
Eminem and Dido – “Stan” (2000)
While the song is from the point of view of an obsessed Eminem fan (stalker + fan = Stan) who violently raps about driving off a bridge with his pregnant girlfriend tied up in the trunk of his car, the sample of Dido’s “Thank You” gently swaying in the background adds a softness to this otherwise abrasive cautionary tale. To add another performer to the mix, Eminem brought out Elton John to play piano and sing Dido’s part at the 2001 Grammys on the song.
Bob Dylan and Kurtis Blow – “Street Rock” (1986)
Perhaps Bob Dylan’s rapping skills should’ve been contained to his 1965 spoken-word-infused “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” but he just couldn’t help himself in the 80s. He wrote and rapped on Kurtis Blow’s “Street Rock,” an energetic 1980s rap song calling people to “rock the streets” and revolutionize their thinking, though the only riots the song has inspired are ones against it. Nonetheless, sometimes it’s good for musicians to push themselves past their limits to discover just how far they can – and can’t – go.
Vitamin String Quartet Tributes to check out: