Collaborations have exponentially increased since the 90s. Nelly and Kelly Rowland struck gold with “Dilemma.” But some turned out to be duds. Here are 15 collaborations that didn’t break chart records. Instead, they broke my expectations.
Birthday Cake by Rihanna and Chris Brown
I stan Rihanna. But sometimes, I can’t understand what’s going through her head. I can compare her to a friend I advise to let go of a toxic and abusive relationship she’s in. For reasons beyond my comprehension, she keeps on coming back to a man I know she’s better off without.
Homecoming by Kanye West and Chris Martin
Kanye West used to be sane, and Chris Martin was once cool. Back then, the two collaborated on “Homecoming.” The contrast in their musical styles works perfectly. It amplifies the bittersweet nature of leaving everything and everyone behind in pursuit of one’s dreams. But I guess not everyone felt as sentimental.
Up Out My Face by Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj
You’ve probably never heard of it. But in 2010, Nicki Minaj was featured on a Mariah track. They joined forces to take a jab at men who were not worth their time. A few years later, they would feud in every single episode of American Idol. Maybe “Up Out My Face” should’ve been a warning sign that another collaboration, even on TV, wouldn’t work.
Control Myself by LL Cool J and Jennifer Lopez
“All I Have” was a smash in all senses of the word. So I’m not surprised LL Cool J and J Lo reunited. They could’ve stuck to the formula and released a ballad. Instead, they rocked the boat and a club jam. Or so they thought. The trajectory change was courageous and admirable. But the sound was alienating for its time.
My Life by 50 Cent, Adam Levine and Eminem
Before retiring from the music scene, 50 Cent wanted to top “In da Club.” Adding Eminem and Adam Levine would’ve increased the talent in the mix. Today, clubs have not forgotten about his debut single. DJs play it every time the setlist shifts to throwback or hip-hop. However, no one remembers “My Life.” I bet you weren’t aware it existed.
Beautiful Liar by Shakira and Beyonce
“Beautiful Liar” did not live up to its hype. The two sounded restrained and seemed to be holding back. We expected fireworks to explode. Instead, we stumbled upon a decent lights show. I can hear Shakira doing something similar again (remember the Rihanna collab). But Beyonce would never dip her toes on this again.
Another Way to Die by Alicia Keys and Jack White
Almost all 007-inspired singles are meant to alienate the general public. Adele and Sam Smith garnered accolades for their contribution to the Bond music legacy. On the other hand, Alicia Keys and Jack White got roasted for it. If the duet came after Adele resurrected the franchise’s soundtrack, the two might have just won awards themselves.
Work It by Nelly and Justin Timberlake
Nelly and Kelly Rowland were responsible for ushering in an era of collaborations. But Nelly needed to understand that the star power of his partner had no correlation to the song’s quality or reception. Justin Timberlake’s fame surpassed Kelly Rowland’s by a mile. Unfortunately, no one got pumped up with “Work It.”
Pretty Girls by Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea
Britney was eager for a comeback. Iggy needed damage control. “Pretty Girls” wasn’t meant to change the world. But it was created to re-establish their relevance in pop music. The output was an underwhelming tune with some of the worst lyrics. Two superstars pointed fingers on who’s to blame. And for all their beauty, things got ugly.
Half of My Heart by John Mayer and Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift and John Mayer ended on a bitter note. Taylor Swift even wrote a scathing song about the end of their relationship – the not-so-subtle “Dear John.” But if you recall, they used to sing together. They talked about half of their hearts. They used to believe their love affair will last. How cute!
Revolver by Madonna and Lil Wayne
What I don’t understand about Madonna in the last decade is why she keeps on pairing up with hip-hop artists. Except for “4 Minutes”, all their inclusions have made the songs unbearable and have not increased her reach. Lil Wayne’s verses in “Revolver” are, at best unnecessary, and at worst, atrocious.
Bubble Butt by Major Lazer, Bruno Mars, Mystic, Tyga and 2 Chainz
Bruno Mars can do no wrong. Or could he? Many of the topnotch collaborations released in the past few years have benefited from his ethereal voice – “Billionaire,” “Nothin’ on You,” and “Uptown Funk.” While he can be forgiven for “Bubble Butt,” the song can never be forgotten. This happened before Major Lazer broke out. I guess that’s a good thing.
Incredible by Celine Dion and Ne-Yo
Celine Dion’s ballads dominated the 90s. This success extended to the collaboration sphere. Think of “Tell Me” or “I’m Your Angel.” But she has not had commercial success since. In a bid to capture the current generation, she updated her sound with Ne-Yo. The song would’ve been incredible two decades ago. Unfortunately, it didn’t catch on.
Beautiful by Enrique Iglesias and Kylie Minogue
The track is one of the most auto-tuned sounds I’ve heard in my life. Any beauty in “Beautiful” has faded. Here are two of the hottest singers of my lifetime, managing to make love sound manufactured and robotic. It made hearts colder. Where is the Kylie Minogue responsible for “Especially for You”?
Just a Fool by Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton
Christina paired up with Blake Shelton for “Just a Fool.” You couldn’t make out if the sound was country or pop. But Christina’s vocal chops were the highlight. Blake Shelton has garnered tremendous success in the country genre because of the show, Christina was a fool to believe collaborating with her co-coaches would be enough.