Arts Issue: Big-name stars collaborate to make songs buzzworthy

April 10, 2014

Courtesy of RCA Records

The music world has recently been buzzing with news of interesting and dynamic forthcoming collaborations. For instance, Cloud Nothings will be releasing a joint album with lo-fi surf rock band Wavves, and the “Amazing Spider-Man 2” soundtrack includes an opera written by Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer.

There is plenty of star power in one celebrity voice, but sometimes the most impactful moments prove that two heads are better than one. Here are some memorable collaborations through the years.

“Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” David Bowie with Bing Crosby (1982)

The short video for this Christmas duet features David Bowie sporting arguably the world’s most ironic rosary and Bing Crosby appearing genuinely uncertain of who Bowie is. Nevertheless, the two undeniably sound brilliant together, and the original lyrics of “Peace on Earth” blend seamlessly with the rhythm of “Little Drummer Boy,” making the song a Christmas staple for many.

“Say Say Say” Paul McCartney ft. Michael Jackson (1983)

“Say Say Say” marked the first duet between global superstars Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson — the pair also recorded “The Girl Is Mine” for Jackson’s “Thriller” a year later. “Say Say Say” is a desperately sad song about lost love and at the same moment an unbelievably catchy piece of music.

“Where the Wild Roses Grow” Kylie Minogue with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (1996)

Though Nick Cave has been a cult favorite for years, he has never achieved mainstream success — which is why pairing him with pop star Kylie Minogue was so interesting. In “Where the Wild Roses Grow,” Cave croons in his distinctively deep voice, offering a startling contrast to Minogue’s soft pop vocals.

“Lady Marmalade” Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Pink (2001)

Though originally recorded in 1974 by the girl group Labelle, “Lady Marmalade” achieved considerable attention in 2001 when Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Pink came together to record a cover of the song for the film “Moulin Rouge.” From Aguilera’s powerful vocals to Lil’ Kim’s innovative rap verse, the song proved both a creative cover and a well-made record in general.

“Cambridge 1969/2007” Yoko Ono ft. The Flaming Lips (2007)

Over the course of a three-decade-long career, The Flaming Lips seem to have collaborated with absolutely everyone. But their relationship with legendary misfit Yoko Ono has produced by far some of their most bizarre and intriguing work to date. “Cambridge 1969/2007” is first and foremost an Ono track, complete with her trademark shrieking. But The Flaming Lips add a considerable psychedelic and whimsical touch to the song, making for a dynamic recording that showcases the talent of both acts.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 10 print edition. Malina Gulino is a contributing writer. Email her at music@nyunews.com.

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