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Top 10 Unlikely Musical Collaborations

VO: Rebecca Brayton
For the release of the collaborative album, Wise Up Ghost, by Elvis Costello and The Roots on September 17, 2013, we’re taking a look at some of music’s most unlikely collaborations. Sometimes, mixing artists known for different musical genres can lead to incredible music, chart success and mainstream popularity. Other times, not so much. For this list, we’ve stuck to songs that have appeared on at least one album or compilation, and have only included collaborations for which the artists involved either contributed vocals or instrumental parts. We’ve excluded songs or remixes in which artists’ collaborations were added after the fact. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 unlikely musical collaborations. Special thanks to our user jackcooper for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest.
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We never thought we’d see these artists make music together. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 unlikely musical collaborations.

For this list, we’ve stuck to songs that have appeared on at least one album or compilation, and have only included collaborations for which the artists involved either contributed vocals or instrumental parts. We’ve excluded songs or remixes in which artists’ collaborations were added after the fact.

#10 – Jack White and Loretta Lynn – “Portland, Oregon “ (2004)


He’s collaborated with Alicia Keys and produced for Insane Clown Posse, but we decided White’s union with a country music superstar is his best. The First Lady of Country Music and the ex-White Stripes frontman may have a 44-year age difference, but Van Lear Rose still became her most successful crossover album. Aside from their “Portland, Oregon” duet, White also wrote some of the music and produced the record in its entirety.

#9 – Lou Reed and Metallica – “The View” (2001)


They’re one of heavy metal’s most commercially successful bands. He’s the former frontman of one of rock’s most influential acts. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be forgiven for the dreadful Lulu. After Metallica and Lou Reed played a concert together in 2011, they thought they could make beautiful music together. The resulting art rock and experimental metal project unfortunately proved otherwise.

#8 – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Kylie Minogue – “Where the Wild Roses Grow” (1996)


Despite their drastic differences in height and musical genres, Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue thought their voices and talents would be perfect for a Murder Ballad. They were right: the Australian pop starlet’s vocals helped propel the single from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ ninth album into the top twenty of multiple European charts.

#7 – Anthrax feat. Chuck D of Public Enemy – “Bring the Noise” (1991)


As one of the first thrash metal acts to gain major label recognition, Anthrax helped define the genre with their rapid-fire riffs and hardcore punk-inspired ferocity. They then showed they weren’t afraid to “bring the noise” when they teamed up with Chuck D. Though Public Enemy was initially skeptical of the idea, the song spawned a joint tour and planted the seed for rap metal.

#6 – Puff Daddy feat. Jimmy Page – “Come With Me” (1998)


While Robert Plant received Grammy recognition for his Americana collaboration with bluegrass-country singer Alison Krauss, it’s his Led Zep bandmate’s not-so-metal moment with Puff Daddy nine years prior that’s still got us scratching our heads. Appearing on the “Godzilla” movie soundtrack, Diddy’s version of “Kashmir” is a hip-hop and rap rock number featuring orchestral elements and Page on guitar. Surprisingly, it charted within the Billboard top 50.

#5 – Kanye West feat. Bon Iver –“ Lost in the World” (2010)


Yeezy must have had the hipster crowd in mind when he recruited Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon for this track off My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. By mixing indie rock and hip-hop with samples and Auto-Tune, West crafted a truly original song that’s been highly praised by fans and critics alike. While it was never officially released as a single, “Lost in the World” is often performed live by the hip-hopper.

#4 – Run D.M.C. feat. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith – “Walk This Way” (1986)


Though Aerosmith’s second single from Toys in the Attic took the masses by storm in the 1970s, the band hit a brief snag after that. It took the flavors of the one of the most influential hip-hop groups of all time to revitalize the band’s career. The 1986 collaboration between Run-D.M.C., Steven Tyler and Joe Perry also paved the way for rap rock and launched the hip-hoppers to mainstream popularity.

#3 – Nelly feat. Tim McGraw – “Over and Over” (2004)


Betcha’d never think you’d hear an R&B and country song, right?! But both genres were influenced by blues music and both often tackle love and heartbreak. In fact, the genres’ narrative styles helped Nelly and Tim McGraw nab a top 3 song on the Billboard Hot 100 in the mid-2000s. Their collaboration was so successful that many country and R&B fans couldn’t help listening to it “over and over again.”

#2 – Eminem feat. Elton John – “Stan” (2001)


Slim Shady’s often been blasted for violent, sexist or homophobic lyrics. Yet, at the 2001 Grammys, none-other-than the openly gay Elton John replaced Dido beside him to sing his chart-topping single. To say people were surprised is an understatement. The memorable performance got so many people talking it was later included on a greatest hits compilation.

#1 – David Bowie and Bing Crosby – “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” (1977)


After his mainstream success began to decline following his art rock experimentation on the Berlin Trilogy, Bowie decided to try something a little more normal. But a Christmas duet between the 30-year-old Ziggy Stardust and 74-year-old crooner Bing Crosby was the last thing anybody expected. Blending elements of the traditional carol with original material, the 1977 recording has since become a holiday classic.

Do you agree with our list? What do you think is the most unlikely musical collaboration? Be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com for more entertaining top 10s.
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