Sometimes two people or groups make waves for doing an unexpected collaboration for a song or album. What makes them so surprising? Usually it has to do with their different genres. The differences however can result in very interesting music and new fans for everyone involved.
But which unexpected collaborations have you might have missed? And how exactly did they get started? Here are six collaborations that show how the love of music can bring pretty much anyone together.
1. “Bad Blood” – Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar
Most of these two artists’ fans might not have expected the two to work together. One is pop star hit maker that writes about her relationships, while the other is a rapper from Compton talking about the struggles of his community. But it was actually Taylor Swift who made the collaboration happen.
“She reached out,” Kendrick Lamar said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “I’ve always been a fan of hers, and she was a fan of my music and she reached out and we got it done.” The pop star wasn’t quiet about her appreciation of his music. She made a video of her lip-syncing to the rapper’s song, “Backseat Freestyle.”
Lamar returned the favor when he sang the chorus of “Shake It Off” in an interview with The Fader. “Shout out to Taylor Swift,” said the rapper before breaking out in song. “You can’t put great music in different genres. I enjoy great music outside of my own music all the time, so I definitely can see where she’s coming from when she says that she listens to the record, and it’s a great thing for her to acknowledge that and put that good energy out into the world like that.”
2. “Over and Over” by Nelly and Tim McGraw
Nelly actually has always been a country fan. So he was the one to reach out to the country star to work on this hit for his “Suit” LP. He reportedly told his manager it had to be McGraw because “He’s a badass, he’s got game, and he’s got a fine bitch!” The breakup song sounds soulful, but also includes McGraw’s twang. However the country singer doesn’t think it resembles his genre.
“I get in there and say, ‘It ain’t nothin’ country about this song,'” McGraw told MTV. “But it was fun to get in there and sing with him. People are really liking the song, so we’ll see what happens.”
3. “Cheek to Cheek” – Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett
Lady Gaga was known for her outrageous costumes — including a meat dress — so people were surprised by her switching gears and doing a duet album and tour with 88-year-old vocalist Tony Bennett. She reportedly has always been a fan of jazz and she craved a break from the pop industry. The singer went more glam for the jazz tour, and it seems like she has learned a lot from her partner.
“Tony encouraged me to let my sadness come through in my voice,” Gaga told The Washington Street Journal. “When I started singing with him, I was going through a very hard time, emotionally. I was so down that when I’d sing, I’d begin to cry. You can’t sing that way. It chokes you up. Tony taught me how to just breathe. You can still cry while you’re singing, but you maintain your breath control and you’re able to soar through it.”
4. “Stan” – Eminem and Elton John
Eminem has a past with controversial and homophobic lyrics to the point where people from the LGBT community have protested against him. So it was pretty shocking to the world when these two decided to work together and start a friendship. The two performed “Stan” together at the Grammy Awards and it was the rapper’s idea.
“We were debating on whether I was going to perform the Grammys or not,” the rapper told MTV News after the performance. “I was like, ‘The only way I’ll perform at the Grammys is with Elton John.’ And I was saying it in kind of jest, thinking it would never happen. The idea of it started becoming more, ‘OK, this is a way to really flip it around and really f— people’s heads up.”
The relationship wasn’t strictly professional. Elton John also helped him with his addiction to prescription pills. Eminem felt like he was the one to turn to because he understood the lifestyle and once struggled with addiction himself.
5. “Whatzupwitu” – Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy
Most people have probably forgotten about Eddie Murphy’s music career, and chances are they didn’t even know this one happened. The comedian’s music career might have been brief and fleeting, but he got to collaborate with a legend. So how did this come to be?
“I asked, and he did it!” explained Eddie Murphy to The New York Post. “I knew Michael since he was 19. The whole Jackson family was really warm to me. I was just hanging out with Jermaine a couple of months ago.” He continued saying that Michael Jackson was pretty different from his persona. “Michael wasn’t “Wacko Jacko” when he was with me. He was a real person with his family and kids, but he could turn on the persona of Michael Jackson instantly.”
6. “The Omen” – DMX and Marilyn Manson
The two definitely come from different styles, so how exactly did this collaboration start? Swizz Beatz! “I was building a relationship with Marilyn Manson after I had just finished working on his album,” explained the producer to Complex. “So I used that to go over to X’s side. I knew it was crossing over but I felt that X had that rock potential. They had accepted him in that world from the shows we were doing.”