15 Unexpected Musical Collaborations

Music Lists

The news of Lou Reed and Metallica making an album together elicited many different reactions, from Velvet Underground fans crying, “Sell out!” to Metallica fans asking, “Who’s Lou Reed?”

We often forget that musicians of all genres are out in the same pasture, and they inevitably rub shoulders with one another on tour, in the studio, or at award shows. Every once and a while we get a strange collaboration to remind us of this fact, and when very different artists decide to combine their respective art forms, the results can impress, disappoint, or even just bewilder.

Here’s a list of 15 collaborations that the music world never saw coming.

15. Ben Folds and William Shatner – “In Love”

Whether Folds found Shatner’s spoken-word style entertaining or endearing, this song for the songwriter’s Fear of Pop project wouldn’t be the last time the two worked together. Folds also produced and arranged the former starship captain’s second album, Has Been, six years later.

14. Sonic Youth and Cypress Hill – “I Love You Mary Jane”
A fondness for the green stuff can apparently make for some odd partnerships. East Coast noise rock meets West Coast rap on this stoner anthem.

13. Alicia Keys and Jack White – “Another Way To Die”
“Icky Thump” is a far cry from “Empire State of Mind,” but the two superstars probably share more than a couple blues influences. Keys and White wrote this menacing spy jam for the 2008 Bond flick Quantum of Solace.

12. Black Lips and GZA – “The Drop I Hold”
Atlanta’s favorite garage rockers enlisted Wu Tang founder GZA for their 2009 SXSW performance. Apparently the match worked well enough to produce this little diddy.

11. Michael McDonald and Grizzly Bear – “While You Wait for the Others”
Fans who bought Grizzly Bear’s “While You Wait for the Others” single got a little surprise—the Doobie Brother took over vocals for a b-side of the same song. Michael-rolled!

10. Anthrax and Public Enemy – “Bring the Noise”
As the song suggests, I suppose both groups do “bring the noise”—it’s just that one keeps the volume up with super-heavy guitar chugging while the other simply yells, “Yeah boiiiiii!”

9. Timbaland and She Wants Revenge – “Time”
Hip hop producers get sad too. Timbaland teamed up with the goth dance duo for 2007’s Shock Value, an album which also found him teaming up with the Hives, Fall Out Boy and Elton John.

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