2017 brought us many things – Ed Sheeran in Game of Thrones, Harry Styles in Dunkirk and Mandy Moore in This is Us. Nelly Furtado, Michelle Branch and James Blunt released new albums that were easily dismissed by the general public. And great musical artists like Chuck Berry, Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington passed away.
But the year had joint partnerships from acts I never thought would come together. Some, because it embodied what could be perceived as ‘selling out’. Others, simply by its divinity.
Here are 10 collaborations in 2017 that I didn’t think would happen. No comment on whether the industry is better off without them.
Cold by Maroon 5 and Future
Why is it surprising? Be it Kendrick Lamar in Don’t Wanna Know or Wiz Khalifa in Payphone, hip-hop’s presence in Maroon 5 tracks are nice-to-haves which actually serve no purpose. They don’t make the tracks worse off, nor do they make it any better. Hopefully it gave the band access to rhythmic stations, or introduced them to new fan bases. Somehow, I doubt it.
Glow by Drake and Kanye West
Why is it surprising? They are two acts of royalty who managed to not get under each other’s skin. Drake and Kanye West have the biggest egos in the industry and tend to pick up fights with just about everyone. Whatever the reason, we have yet to be blessed with their duel. Maybe it’s time to bring back Celebrity Death Match and see these two duke it out.
Heavy by Linkin Park and Kiiara
Why is it surprising? At first listen, it sounds different from the band’s earlier material – way different. There’s less rage and anger and a group that seemed deep in contemplation and introspection. It’s like they went on a 180-degree-turn and decided to switch genres. But hindsight leads us to rationalize why it shifted and we make sense of the lyrics in the context of Chester’s passing. One thing’s for certain – we could have all been more welcoming to the change.
I’m the One by DJ Khaled, Chance the Rapper, Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne and Quavo
Why is it surprising? The surprise is not Justin Bieber collaborating with DJ Khaled, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne and Quavo. Besides the four, in 2017 alone, he got together in the studio with Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and David Guetta. But the questionable choice in this instance is that of Chance the Rapper’s. He was at the top of his game in 2016 and to get in the Justin Bieber action seemed to be him joining the bandwagon than dictating it. For whatever it’s worth, rarely anyone attributes the track to Chance the Rapper. It also doesn’t hurt that the song was a commercial smash worldwide, the highest peaking for most people credited, Chance included. P.S. This is not the first time the two paired up. A few years back, they joined forces for Confident, a relatively unknown material Justin released before his career was resurrected.
Lust for Life by Lana del Rey and The Weeknd
Why is it surprising? Actually, what is surprising is that this collaboration only happened now and how the world never thought of it considering The Weeknd’s voice and his haunting rendition of The Hills. If vampires were real, or if Twilight wanted to take on material appropriate for the occasion, this single would’ve been the perfect theme song. I personally feel this introduced Lana to a whole new audience and showcased her brilliance to the world.
Slide by Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean and Migos
Why is it surprising? After all the commotion of Frank Ocean refusing to submit his sophomore album for Grammy Awards consideration, you’d think he would have a principled objection to injecting EDM in his own portfolio. But when you listen to the output of their session, you’d realize his genius is not confined to genres. He gives credence to an often lambasted field. There’s also Migos but let’s admit he and Calvin take the backseat on this one.
Something Just Like This by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay
Why is it surprising? Coldplay and the Chainsmokers are in the running to be considered the next Nickelback. What do I mean? As their careers progress, it becomes cooler to hate on them publicly, even if they were responsible for many of our LSS-es. But even that did not stop them from creating the greatest cliche in pop. Many argue it sounded derivative but none will say it wasn’t infectious. I have faith history will be kind to them and will not let unjust hatred prevail. They were responsible for creating revolutions! Viva la Vida or Roses, anyone?
Swish Swish by Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj
Why is it surprising? Nicki Minaj has probably collaborated with the entire industry. But to do so with Katy Perry on a supposed diss track on Taylor Swift, with whom she had a heated Twitter exchange with, just screams shady. And even though we are talking of two enemies, one recent and another of the past, the song barely made a dent, in either Taylor’s already vengeful image, or the charts we expected it would decimate.
Waterfall by Stargate, Pink and Sia
Why is it surprising? The first surprising part is that you probably don’t know who Stargate is. They’ve only written and produced number one hits for Rihanna, Beyonce, Ne-Yo and … S Club 7. But it’s also the fact that the powerful and emotionally charged vocals of Sia and Pink coming together was not enough to have the airwaves explode in the most epic way possible.
XXX. by Kendrick Lamar and U2
Why is it surprising? We are simply not worthy. These are two of the most critically acclaimed artists of our lifetime coming together. It’s like Shakira and Beyonce joining forces for Beautiful Liar. Okay, it’s not. But like that collaboration, or when Janet and Michael did Scream, or Prince and Madonna did Love Song, expectations will always exceed reality. It’s the same phenomenon when two hot celebrities produce an offspring that end up not being the cutest baby that ever lived. For the record, we expected a realistic 120/100 and only got a disappointing 95/100.