Few could argue that 2012 was a great year for music. From Australians kicking ass internationally (read: Tame Impala and Gotye) to some great genre-defying hit albums, the year went out with a definite bang. For as many great albums and singles as we remember, sometimes the oddities slip our mind. To ensure you never ever forget, we've compiled a slideshow of the strangest musical collaborations of 2012. From Tim McGraw and Ne-Yo melding country and RnB, to Ke$sha dueting with just about everyone, take a look at our kooky musical picks.
Elton John vs. Pnau – 'Good Morning to the Night' A collaborative project between the two artists, Good Morning To The Night is an entire album of Elton John mash-ups, with Pnau reworking classic tracks into a modern funky dance numbers. Despite the age difference, the Sydney boys seem to have become quite close with ol’ Elton, and their love and dedication to his music is apparent whilst listening to their remixes. Album highlights include the track ‘Sad’ which combines elements of ‘Nice and Slow’, ‘Crazy Water’, ‘Curtains’, ‘Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word’, and ‘Friends’ mixed into a throwback disco track with a modern edge.
50 Cent ft. Eminem & Adam Levine – ‘My Life’ If there’s anyone still defending Fiddy’s street cred, this track is the final nail in the coffin. Performing on The Voice with the singer of Maroon 5 just aint thug. Not even a verse from Eminem can save this train wreck from completely mediocrity. In fact, it does the complete opposite; it highlights just how sub-par 50 Cent is as a rapper.
Kendrick Lamar ft. Lady Gaga – ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe’ While Gaga’s impassioned vocal take didn’t make the cut for the official album, this interesting outtake is floating around the internet for all to hear. Although Gaga’s high-fashion doesn’t necessarily mix with the gritty streets of Compton of which Lamar tributes on good kid, m.A.A.d city, her soulful take on ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe’ is an interesting experiment nonetheless, and proves Gaga still keeps her ear close enough to the underground to still surprise us.
Ke$ha ft. Iggy Pop – ‘Dirty Love’ Rock and roll fans around the world sighed collectively upon getting wind of this collaboration. What they didn’t expect however was a track that turned out kind of OK… Ke$ha has never been one to restrain her gushing over her idols such as Iggy Pop and the Rolling Stones, and the fact that Iggy actually lent his battered vocals to this track gives her some form of legitimacy. While it isn’t a track that will blow you away, it’s got a real rock n roll spirit and c’mon, it’s Iggy Pop for chrissakes.
Lana Del Ray ft. A$AP Rocky – ‘National Anthem’ While A$AP Rocky doesn’t actually appear in the track itself, he appears in the music video depicting John F. Kennedy, as Lana Del Rey plays the part of both Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy, recreating home videos and JFK’s iconic assassination. The video perfectly captures the destruction of innocence ‘National Anthem’ is going for, and Rocky and Del Rey are a believable couple as well as make for engaging actors.
Flaming Lips ft. Ke$ha & Biz Markie – ‘2012 (You Must Be Upgraded)’ Featuring on the Flaming Lips’ collaboration album, Flaming Lips & Heady Fwends, this is the most wack collaboration of an album designed around wack collaborations. Surprisingly this song not only works, but it’s actually pretty great. An abrasive Flaming Lips noise cut with Ke$ha’s typically flirtatious lyrics restricted and Biz Markie’s distinctive holler let loose, this track’s mish-mash of contributors and distorted clammer is the soundtrack of a madman.
The Black Keys & RZA – ‘The Baddest Man Alive’ Featured in RZA’s film, a loving tribute to kung-fu titled The Man With The Iron Fists, the impressive pedigree of both the Black Keys and RZA assured that this track would be at least decent. Yet what we got was so much better than decent; it was a downright blast. A track that takes itself just seriously enough yet still embraces the humour of both the bizarre combination of artists and the circumstances under which they have collaborated. Seriously, just watch the official video and you can tell that these guys had an absolute riot working together.
Paul McCartney ft. Nirvana – ‘Cut Me Some Slack’ Whispers circulated for days. Critics scoffed. Fanboys gushed. And then when it was confirmed the world sputtered a collective WTF. Coming together for the 12.12.12 Sandy Relief Benefit Concert, Paul McCartney led reunited Nirvana and performed not a tribute, but debuted brand new song that they had been jamming on together. Set for an official release on Dave Grohl’s upcoming Sound City rockumentary, this is without a doubt the most left-field collaboration to come all year, yet the blues inspired grunge jam somehow makes more sense than anything else on this list.
B.o.B ft. Morgan Freeman – ‘Bombs Away’ Morgan Freeman has been the go-to narrator in Hollywood for years now and it was only a matter of time until the voice of God himself was taken advantage of by a musician. The world’s smoothest voice here acts as a narrator yet again, bookending B.o.B’s aggressive holler. While not a particularly interesting track, Freeman’s intro and outro are novelty enough to definitely make it worth your time of day to check this one out.
Psy ft. M.C Hammer – ‘Gangnam Style/2 Legit 2 Quit’ Psy’s performance was always going to be the American Music Awards’ show stopping performance. What no one was expecting though was Psy’s call of “STOP. Hammer Time,” halfway through the performance, inviting MC Hammer onstage to bust a move to a mash-up of Gangnam Style and 2 Legit 2 Quit. With some artists honoured at the awards too young to even remember MC Hammer in his heyday, this was a completely out of the blue, yet legitimately awesome mash-up that showed Hammer can still hold his own against 2012’s biggest novelty.
The D.O.T ft. Clare Maguire & Danny Brown – ‘You Never Asked’ Already an interesting collaboration between two established musicians, the D.O.T consists of Mike Skinner of the Streets and The Music’s Rob Harvey. However adding British darling Clare Maguire and foul-mouthed Detroit local Danny Brown to the mix sends this collaboration to genre busting heights. Lying somewhere in the void between electro, RnB and hip-hop, ‘You Never Asked’ is an eclectic and unfocused offering that unfortunately fails to reach the heights of any respective contributors past efforts.
Ne-Yo ft. Tim McGraw – 'Only Human & She Is' Ne-Yo traded in his flat cap for a 10-gallow hat in 2012 as the modern RnB singer collaborated with the country music legend Tim McGraw not once, but twice. First up was January’s ‘Only Human’, a cut from McGraw’s latest LP Emotional Traffic, followed by She Is from Ne-Yo’s R.E.D. Unfortunately the results were little more than typically emotional radio fodder (surprise, surprise), and won’t be lighting the charts on fire anytime soon.
Trash Talk ft. Tyler The Creator, Hodgy Beats – ‘Blossom & Burn’ This is a collaboration that clashes just as much in execution as it does on paper. We all knew it would happen when Trash Talk were signed as the first non-Odd Future associated act to their OF record label after bonding over a mutual love of skateboarding and generally fucking shit up. Unfortunately, despite Hodgy’s best attempt at a hardcore snarl, and Tyler’s best impersonation of a punk rocker, the Odd Future representatives come off as juvenile as they spit nonsense references to everything from Breaking Bad, to Portishead. Ugh.
Big Boi ft. Wavves & B.o.B – ‘Shoes For Running’ Putting his self-declared love for indie rock and electronica into practice, Big Boi enlisted a diverse array of collaborators for his most recent album Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumours. One of the more interesting cuts, ‘Shoes For Running’ has Nathan Williams of Wavves hollering a twee vocal hook over faint guitars and an electronic beat, as Big Boi and B.o.B handle rhymes. Surprisingly catchy with enough depth to warrant repeat listens, this track is one of the more delightfully surprising collaborations of the year.
Madonna ft. M.I.A & Nicki Minaj – ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’’ Madonna joins forces with two of modern pop’s more adventurous princesses for a kitschy throwback pop tune, idolising the Material Girl. Commendations for not letting the collaboration degenerate into modern club hit filler it could have been, however the contributors respective contributions are unfortunately nothing to write home about, and instead more time parading around in the video clip as Madonna’s unenthused cheer squad.
Frank Ocean ft. John Mayer – 'White' & 'Pyramids' Frank Ocean’s debut studio album channel ORANGE is a passionate neo-soul slow-burn, and John Mayer’s guitar lead on the track ‘White’ compliments Ocean’s smooth RnB beat with an emotional and subdued melody. Mayer joined Ocean again for an SNL live performance of his track ‘Pyramids’, where he yet again performed a heartfelt and raw guitar solo that said just as much with melody as Ocean did with his lyrics. A complimentary collaboration that melts with cool, hopefully this won’t be the last time these two joins forces.
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