Crystal Method and Martha Reeves. Nas and DJ Premier and the Berklee College of Music Orchestra. Red Bull Music Academy opener Erykah Badu and Mark Ronson. As documentary maker Amir Bar-Lev announces RE:GENERATION, a new film produced in association with the Grammys that unites artists with unexpected producers, Bella Todd assesses the sliding scale of success enjoyed by some of music’s most surprising collaborations.
Bing Crosby and David Bowie
Whether you’re talking football in No Man’s Land or turkey and cranberries, Christmas is traditionally the time of unlikely unions. And when the granddad of easy listening opened the door to pop’s resident Starman on his 1977 TV special, he ushered in a rare moment of intergenerational, inter-genre accord. Nothing says seasonal harmony like sheet music, sweaters, slightly stilted conversation and the beautiful simplicity of Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy.
Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue
In which the modern-day king of the murder ballad bent the queen of the hot pant to his will, and Kylie spent hours submerged in a stream with a snake between her thighs. Released in 1995, back when Cave was still a cult concern and Kylie was as un-cool as singing former soap stars came, Where The Wild Roses Grow was a perfect confluence of musical light and dark of the sort that can only flourish when neither party gives two shites about their reputation.
Aerosmith and Run DMC
Public Enemy and Anthrax, Jay Z and Linkin Park, Cypress Hill and Pearl Jam, the entire soundtrack to action thriller Judgment Night… rap and rock have jumped into bed together so often in the past thirty years, they spawned a whole (often hideous) new genre. But this mighty ‘n’ meaty 1986 collab on Walk This Way is the one that started it all.
Alicia Keys and Jack White
The first ever Bond duet, Another Way To Die also proved the films’ most divisive theme tune. White may be the renaissance man of riffage, collaborating with everyone from country singer Loretta Lynn to facepaint-loving, hip-hop horror duo Insane Clown Posse. But this slick southern rocker couldn’t help but underwhelm after the months of rumours: he could have had Winehouse! etc etc.
Elton John and Eminem
When Elton John appeared at the piano for Eminem’s performance of Stan at the 2001 Grammys, anti homophobia campaigners couldn’t believe their ears. Then again, Elton has always loved nothing more than a rehabilitation challenge. These days he’s Marshall Mathers’ celebrity drug counsellor, while Mathers, bless him, signalled his appreciation by giving Elton a wedding gift of two diamond cock rings.
Lou Reed and Metallica
They share nowt but a penchant for black clothing and will release their album, Lulu, on October 31. So we shouldn’t be surprising if this box-fresh collaboration between Velvet Underground legend Lou Reed and heavy metal titans Metallica (based on a set of German expressionist plays about an abused dancer and apparently initiated by Reed with the words “Are you ready to end your career?”) turns out to be a marriage made in hell. On the evidence of lumberingly pretentious first single The View, sex and death were never so sludgy.
Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
Ebony And Ivory: one small step, perhaps, for two heroes of credible pop, but one gargantuan plummet for the notions of subtlety and good taste.