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Sound And Vision: Strange Bedfellows — The Best of Music’s Unlikely Collaborations

“I get high with a little help from my friends,” Ringo Starr sang on the Beatles‘ 1967 classic. These days, so do many of music’s top stars. Two’s company, and so is three and sometimes four. The more the merrier, the higher and higher they get.

On the charts, that is.

In the Top 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100 for the week ending December 10, seventeen songs were collaborations between separate recording entities. Four of them featured Drake, and three apiece featured Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, who both appeared on tracks with Drake and with each other. But will.i.am featuring Jennifer Lopez and Mick Jagger—and debuting at No. 36 with “T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever),” which the threesome performed on the November 20 American Music Awards—was probably the one that nobody saw coming.

Old-school Rolling Stones fans must be cringing at the idea of Jagger going anywhere near Lopez and will.i.am so soon after Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera went to No. 1 by invoking his hallowed name on “Moves Like Jagger.” But for a sixty-something legend like him, hit records—even if in name only, a la Duck Sauce‘s GRAMMY-nominated “Barbra Streisand—are a near-impossible dream unless they’re in tandem with other, often younger, stars.

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: Strange Bedfellows — The Best of Music’s Unlikely Collaborations’

Madonna Is At It Once Again

The world’s top selling female recording artist of all time is taking a more current approach with her next album. Despite seeming previously reluctant to jump aboard the hip hop train, Madonna has now decided to team up with both M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj for a track on her upcoming album. While the currently-unnamed album is set to be released in 2012, this particular track, “Give Me All Your Love” was leaked just last month much to the pop icon’s dismay. However, despite Madonna’s unhappiness about the early unveiling of her material, much of the feedback seems to be fairly positive about the song. And that was the version before M.I.A. hopped on board.

Adding two fierce female rappers to an album by the preeminent Queen of Pop seems like it could be a good idea. This collaboration proves once again what a savvy businesswoman Madonna is. Everyone knows she can sell records and sell out shows without collaborating with other artists, and that she’s willing to reinvent herself in order to stay current. Despite the generational differences with Nicki and M.I.A., Madonna is still a force to be reckoned with, and I’m extremely excited to hear the completed track and what other surprises the album has to offer.

What are your thoughts on this collaboration? Can Madonna pull it off? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Soundcheck: When Hip-Hop Goes Pop

Mash-ups are a mainstay on the hip hop scene with rappers constantly collaborating to deliver fresh material.  Even the most vicious emcee paired up with the current R&B diva has a natural charm, and we’ve come to expect Rihanna, Beyoncé or Kelly Rowland backing up big verses from big rappers.  Now, it seems that hip hop has crossed over into the pop star realm, blurring the lines between the sugary sweet stylings of pop icons like Britney, Katy and Bieber with the hard-hitting sound of the streets.

We got our biggest dose of the crossover craze when Nicki Minaj announced she would join Britney Spears on her Femme Fatale Tour this year. In a groundbreaking move, fans of pop music’s reigning queen would be shoulder to shoulder with fans of the hottest thing to hit hip hop in years.  What resulted was one hell of a party!

Now, other singers are following suit, and pairing up with some unlikely collaborators. Justin Bieber will throw a little hip hop into the holidays when he releases Under The Mistletoe, on November 1.  The fifteen-track holiday album features a version of “The Little Drummer Boy” with none other than Busta Rhymes. We can’t imagine Rhymes’ grimy, gruff voice singing about the birth of Christ, but we’re all ears.  Other guests on the album will include Usher, Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey.

Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: When Hip-Hop Goes Pop’

Killer Collabos

The only thing more exciting than a new single from your favorite artist is a new single from two or three of your favorite artists. Whether the aim is to break a new artist with an established one, widen a fanbase or re-establish a prior claim to fame; good collaborations have a way of making fans feel like they lucked out. Check out some of the latest download-worthy duos.

Jay-Z and Kanye dropped “H.A.M.” today; the first single from their highly anticipated collaboration record, due out in March. The yet-to-be-titled project is sure to be a crowd pleaser, with two of the best rappers in the game on one album.

Chris Brown turned out two singles in one week, and seems to be back to the danceable ditties that made him a mainstay on the scene. Whether you like the kid or not, it’s hard to deny his talent, especially when he can’t seem to make anything but a hit.

“Look At Me Now” Chris Brown ft. Busta Rhymes & Lil Wayne:

On this track, Brown tries his hand at rapping alongside serious spitters, Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne. While this could be a risky move, he pulls it off to deliver an effortless verse complemented by the heavy-hitting emcees.

“Where Do We Go From Here” Chris Brown ft. Pitbull:

This club banger is certain to heat up the dance floor with Brown belting out the hook between Pitbull’s energizing, signature style. The trance-y beat makes it impossible to stand still.

“Yep Dats Me” Jamie Foxx ft. Ludacris & Soulja Boy:

This slightly surprising mash-up is one to dedicate to all your haters. The catchy hook is classic Soulja Boy, and Ludacris heats up the track in a tone reminiscent of his early days on the mic. While the majority of Foxx’s album is intended for the bedroom, this is one to bang in the streets.

“Speechless” Alicia Keys ft. Eve:

Alicia’s first post-baby ballad is produced by her hubby, Swizz Beatz and is pre-empted by her saying, “I’m at a brand new time in my life, I got a brand new feeling.” Eve gives a great performance that makes us even more eager for her album to drop later this year.

“Buyou” Keri Hilson ft. J. Cole:

Hilson’s latest LP, No Boys Allowed is clearly dedicated to the ladies, and this sassy track is tailored to the “fly girls getting money” who want the same from their men. Newcomer J. Cole is perfectly poised to win over the female market as he spits his appreciation for independent women, and urges them not to settle for broke boys.

“That Good” Snoop Dogg ft. Wiz Khalifa:

Ganja lovers rejoice—the self-proclaimed “New Cheech & Chong” are at it again, releasing the first-single from the soundtrack to their upcoming, untitled movie. The title refers to the potent weed strains these talented tokers have on hand, and is sure to become a new stoner anthem. Here’s to hoping Wiz stays out of trouble long enough to get through filming.

Keep the collabos coming.

 


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