On paper, it seems like a no brainer. Getting two superstars to team up for a musical collaboration seems like a bona fide way to have a top selling single, album, or well received live performance. The hope is that the partnership will appeal to all of the fans of the artists involved and grow new listeners due to the uncharacteristic pairing, which will flip the music industry on its sometimes deaf ear and earn millions of dollars in royalties. There have been well documented instances where a musical collaboration has succeeded, such as Elton John & George Michael, Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson and Jay-Z & Alicia Keys, just to name a few. Unfortunately, there have also been some tremendous and embarrassing flops in this category that cannot go unnoticed. Most recently, plenty of attention was given to Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea’s song “Pretty Girls,” which was definitely one of the more lackluster tracks from both stars, but doesn't even crack our top 10 list.
On some occasions it feels like the producers, writers or the artists themselves just pull random names out of a hat and hope they are available to get together to see what they can come up with. Many of the poor choices for collaborations come in the form of genre-bending performances with high expectations. Mixing hip-hop and rock or country and rap sometimes just doesn’t hit the mark when there is no chemistry between the artists. Other times the two artists can be so similar that it’s hard to even tell where one artist starts and another ends.
Music fans are smart and they know a cash grab plot when they see or hear one. These artists should have thought twice before getting together:
10 Ludacris & Sum 41 – Get Back (single) 2005
From the first verse when Ludacris raps “it’s the knick knack paddywhack, still ride in Cadillacs/Family off the street! Made my homies put the baggies back,” it’s apparent that this is not going to be the strongest vocal performance from Luda. Backed by Canadian pop-punkers Sum 41, the track is a pure rap-rock nightmare. The studio version is not even the worst edition of this track, unfortunately. The pairing got together for a live performance of “Get Back” on an episode of Saturday Night Live, and if it wasn’t for the “applause” signs telling the audience when to cheer—it would have been very quiet after the performance.
9 Nelly & Tim McGraw – Over and Over (single) 2004
In 2004, it was hard to find a rapper more on his game than Nelly. The artist had just come off huge success of his sophomore album Nellyville, and already released an album, Sweat—earlier in the year. Nelly released one more album in 2004, Suit, and it featured the track “Over and Over” with country music renegade, Tim McGraw. The awkward R&B track featured some painful singing from the rapper, as McGraw hoarsely belted out the hook and somewhat auto-tuned verses. The video stars both performers in turmoil over a lost love and many “woo’s” and “uh-uh’s” from Nelly.
8 Blink-182 & LL Cool J – Dammit/Mama Said Knock You Out (live) 2013
Before the well-publicized split of Blink-182, they hosted an anniversary party for their self-titled album at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles. The “ho-hum” performance (mainly due to vocalist Tom DeLonge’s lack of effort) closed with the hit single “Dammit,” as many blink shows often do. In the middle of the song, bassist and vocalist Mark Hoppus announced rapper/actor LL Cool J to the stage. The band and rapper then performed LL’s 1990 hit song in one of the most confusing finale’s in blink-182 history. Sure, LL Cool J can bring flare to a stage, but in the middle of many fans' favorite song? It was an odd choice to say the least.
7 Korn & Skrillex – Get Up! (single) 2011
6 Chad Kroeger & Josey Scott – Hero (single) 2002
“Hero” is actually one of the highest chart performing collaborations on the list. However, just because it climbed well on the charts, mainly due to the success of the original Spider-Man movie and soundtrack—doesn’t mean it has to be good. Chad Kroger’s band Nickelback was one of the biggest bands on the planet around this time and Saliva, a band fronted by Josey Scott, had a few hits of their own. This is a classic case of two artists coming together for the sake of popularity. The most frustrating part of the song is the difficulty in distinguishing one artist from the other, since they both have very similar voices. Today, both bands wish they could turn back the clock to 2002 and bask in its glory a little more.
5 Weezer & Lil Wayne – Can’t Stop Partying (single) 2009
You would think that with a title like Raditude, Weezer was firing on all cylinders during their 2009 album. While fans were left wondering where all the angst from front man Rivers Cuomo went, they were blind-sided by this dull mismatch of Weezer and Weezy. Lil Wayne raps the most impressive line on the track with, “Party like tomorrow is my funeral/gotta stop mixing alcohol with pharmaceuticals.” Even with all that cleverness, the song still doesn’t recover from the anti-climatic chorus of, “I can’t stop partying, partying.” This was a marriage that hopefully divorced for good.
4 Snoop Lion & Miley Cyrus – Ashtrays and Heartbreaks (single) 2013
Ah yes, the Snoop Lion experiment. When Snoop went reggae, you remember right? That went well. Snoop has been a part of so many collaborations and has produced so many well-known tracks that he was due for one to be awful. The ridiculously drawn-out chorus about smoking weed and cheesy video in which Miley Cyrus seems to oversell her part—didn’t stop this track from going Number 1 on the U.S. Billboard Charts, however (sigh). While Snoop reverted back to his Dogg moniker, Cyrus went on to have massive success with her next album. It was a fumble in the storied career of both artists, but they recovered nicely once the dust and smoke settled.
3 Metallica & Lou Reed – Lulu (album) 2011
What on earth was this? Both Lou Reed and Metallica should have been ashamed that this concept ever left the table. Lulu, which had incredibly eerie cover art, was basically a spoken word album backed by a very uninspired Metallica. The album received an overwhelming amount of bad press from critics and fans alike. It’s incredible that two Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees could come together and produce something so disappointing. This experiment was a huge failure and left the music industry scratching their heads in wonder.
2 Michael Jackson & Eddie Murphy – Whatzupwitu (single) 1993
This is the story of the strangest collaboration listed here. The “King of Pop” Michael Jackson was the biggest artist or perhaps person in the world around 1993. His hit single “Remember the Time” from the legendary Dangerous album, featured a cameo from actor Eddie Murphy—who was also a huge star in his own right. Murphy had always had a passion for music and on his album Love’s Alright, he had asked Jackson to return the cameo favor and he obliged by appearing on the track “Whatzupwitu.” Please watch this video and make it your top priority of the day. The cringe-worthy performances and computer graphics make for one of the most hysterical and hard-to-believe-it-exists videos of all time. Murphy has been a good sport about the video, recently saying, "There’s not a lot of people that have footage of themselves dancing around in the clouds with Michael Jackson. I do have that for ever.” Checkmate.
1 Mick Jagger & David Bowie – Dancing in the Street (single) 1985
Did you watch the “Whatzupwitu” video yet? Are you ready for one that’s even more comical? The eclectic, colorful, flamboyant and hypnotic video for “Dancing in the Street” by Mick Jagger and David Bowie is a sight to be seen. It’s almost better to not even read this part of the article until you have seen it—just to be able to get the full effect. It's so hard to look away from it and when it's over, you want to watch it again. It’s truly a remarkable scene and every bit of it that makes your jaw drop, seems completely unintentional. Jagger and Bowie have absolutely no clue during the making of this video that the finished product will have them cowering from embarrassment. Music videos these days are so over-the-top and tacky. How about the days when you could record a track about dancing in the street and then create a video of yourself dancing in the street with a friend? It’s so bad, it’s genius.