Yesterday (Thursday 27th July) saw the announcement that Mick Jagger has joined forces with Skepta to release a remixed version of his new song ‘England Lost’. This isn’t the first time that two very different artists have collaborated; if you can pull it off its possible to harness the fans of both acts for a mega hit that stands the test of time. Here we explore some of the biggest collabs of all time, we’ll let you be the judge of whether they worked…
1. Linkin Park ft. Jay-z – Encore / Numb
In February 2004 Super Producer Danger Mouse released a mashup album of Jay-Z’s Black Album and The Beatles’ White Album entitled The Grey Album. Inspired by this record, MTV approached Jay-Z and Linkin Park about creating a mashup track. The idea proved so popular with both artists that they were able to produce an EP worth of tracks. Collision Course was the first EP since Alice In Chain’s ‘Jar of Flies’ (1994) to top the Billboard 200.
The LP has received significant airplay recently since the death of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington. The single ‘Numb / Encore’ from Collision Course is currently at number 13 in the UK midweek singles chart.
2. Mint Royale ft. Gene Kelly – Singing In The Rain
Arguably one of the most bizarre collaborations in recent years, in August 2005 Manchester production duo Mint Royale released a remix of Gene Kelly’s classic all-singing all-dancing musical number ‘Singing In The Rain’. Its success was largely thanks to the car advert it featured in. The advert became a strong talking point as footage from the 1952 film was manipulated to make it seem like the long dead Gene Kelly was break dancing his way to his car. The sophisticated but eerie ad was created through use of real break dancers, Kelly’s face digitally mapped onto theirs in post-production. Its success in 2005 wasn’t the end for this remix though as talented young break dancer George Sampson performed to the track on Britain’s Got Talent in 2008 ensuring that it soared back into the charts.
3. Anthrax and Public Enemy – Bring The Noise
One of the first rap metal songs, in 1991 legendary rap group Public Enemy agreed to rerecord their track ‘Bring The Noise’, which was originally released in 1987. Chuck D has confessed that he didn’t initially take the suggestion seriously but was soon won over when they began the collaboration.
Thrash titans Anthrax toured with Public Enemy following the single’s release joining on stage for Bring The Noise as an encore.
4. Rihanna, Kanye West, Paul McCartney – FourFiveSeconds
Four Five Seconds was a truly international collaboration; English former-Beatle Paul McCartney, American Kanye West and Barbadian Rihanna recorded their vocals in the US and Mexico. The track combines elements of folk, pop and soul music for a stripped back sound.
5. Run DMC ft. Aerosmith – Walk This Way
No collaborations list would be complete without Walk This Way. The rock / rap mashup released in 1986 is widely credited for bringing hip-hop to the mainstream as it was the first example of the genre to reach the top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100.
When they began freestyling in the studio to the band’s 1975 album Toys In The Attic, Run DMC had no idea who Aerosmith were. Their producer Rick Rubin suggested they work with Joe Perry and Steven Tyler from the band to rerecord Walk This Way. The song’s accompanying video was a huge MTV hit when the channel was in its infancy reinvigorating Aerosmith’s career, which had been burning out due to their drug addictions.
6. Leftfield ft. John Lydon – Open Up
Progressive House duo Leftfield enlisted the powerful vocals of Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd frontman John Lydon for their 1993 single Open Up. The political lyrics and Lydon’s punk background seemed so appropriate for a dance song at a time when the genre had become highly politicised. The authorities were struggling to suppress rave culture which had spread into the countryside as illegal warehouse parties.
7. Johnny Cash and U2 – The Wanderer
One of the few U2 songs not featuring Bono on lead vocals, Johnny Cash stood in for 1993’s The Wanderer. Bono’s lyrics were based on Ecclesiastes from the Old Testament in which a preacher is searching for the meaning of life. Cash’s well publicised strugges make the song’s topic all the more poignant.
8. Wyclef Jean ft. The Rock – It Doesn’t Matter
When the wrestler’s catchphrase inspired a song title, former Fugees member Wyclef Jean decided to invite The Rock to guest on the song!
9. Eminem ft. Dido – Stan
There are various theories as to how Eminem heard Dido’s song Thank You, but there’s no doubt that the London singer-songwriter received a significant boost to her public profile when her track was sampled by the rapper. The song tells the story of an obsessive fan who regularly writes to Eminem and ultimately kills himself, his girlfriend and his unborn child when he doesn’t receive a response.
The song’s cinematic music video perfectly complimented the emotive nature of the track and regularly features on top music video lists.
10. A$AP Rocky ft. Skrillex – Wild For The Night
Wild For The Night is mostly based on Skrillex’s pre-existing mix of ‘Goin In’ a song by Birdy Nam Nam. The track sees Californian dubstep producer Skrillex team up with Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky for an obnoxious EDM/Rap banger.