The season has brought family and friends from all over the world together. Whether from great distances or just from next door, this togetherness prompts us to think about the ways that we get along with others, the ways in which who we are plays off of who they are. In the music industry, this is an everyday occurrence: the collaboration.
So, in celebration of the holiday hoopla and the spirit of getting together, here’s a line-up that demonstrates how individuals from different backgrounds, countries, and genres have collaborated to create a unique sound that speaks to the universal nature of music and brought it into the popular consciousness:
Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj
A power house of a song you could not have missed. This song played everywhere, showcasing the pipes that the universe bestowed on Jessie J. Hers, along with Ariane Grande’s soft and swelling voice and Nicki Minaj’s sharp and charismatic rapping, made it the ultimate girl anthem of the year. Also, you need to hear the version where Jessie J kills Nicki’s part.
Lay it all on Me
Rudimental and Ed Sheeran
I would be remiss if Ed Sheeran failed to appear on this list. Not releasing an album in over a year, Ed Sheeran’s soulful, melodic voice is frequently comes over the radio like a familiar embrace in numerous top hits, “Lay it All on Me” being one of them. This cool-sounding song leaves one wanting to take a drive down PCH, windows down, with friends and without a care in the world.
Major Lazer, Ellie Goulding and Tarrus Riley
Powerful indeed. With the success of “Lean On” (with DJ Snake and Mo) right before, Major Lazer delivers an additional rhythmic track that seizes you with the rise and fall of a music that flows with energy and hooks you with a hypnotic sound. Ellie Goulding immediately takes a hold of you with her soft vocals, while Tarrus Riley provides a catchy hook, their voices working so well together with the (almost supernatural) vibe of the song. The track showed a fresh and but at the same time familiar side of Goulding, which may have been a relief simply because of the Golden Globe nominated “Love Me like You Do” being on repeat, again, everywhere. “Powerful” has a crescendo that intensifies, swelling with every hook. This was a bit of a departure for Major Lazer from his faster paced dance music, as those who have heard “Figure 8” know. It is a stark difference and a standout collaboration for incorporating element that speak to each artist’s strengths.
Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Eric Nally, Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, and Grandmaster Caz.
A fun song all around. Macklemore’s second released track jumps back ahead, first performing the feat of stitching different melodies, genres, backgrounds, generations from old school to new age rap into a joyful ride – one that sounds like a West Side Story set between two opposing musical forces. Featuring Eric Nally, Mel, Kool Moe Dee, Grandmaster Caz, this song definitely represents the holiday spirit of coming together. P.S. The video is cool too. Who doesn’t love motorcycle-drawn eagle chariot?
A$AP Rocky, Miguel, Mark Ronsen and Rod Stewart
Yes, you read that right. This collaboration was one out of left field, and left me wanting more. Sampling Rod Stewart’s ‘In a Broken Dream,’ A$AP Rocky creates a smooth hip hop ride for the ears just as cool as Rod Stewart himself.
All My Friends
Snakehips, Tinashe, Chance the Rapper
Featuring R&B upcomers Tinashe and Chance the Rapper, Snakehips crafts an infectious and sultry track that describes a love/hate relationship with partying. It is the London-based duo’s first collaboration with higher profile names. It is feel-good anthem with an old school 90’s hip hop style that encapsulates what is to be in your 20’s, a battle ground of holding on to that inner rebellion whilst losing the war to escape adulthood. Chance the Rapper doesn’t hold back, and each verse delivered gets flipped it on its head in the next line.
Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney
The simplest and catchiest song to jump 2015. This sweet sounding song with wild lyrics captures the grace and versatility that show Paul McCartney for the living legend he is, in this elegant collaboration with two modern cultural icons. It was a minimalistic song (with an equally beautiful and minimalistic video) that didn’t need to hide behind overbearing production and just focused on the lyrics and voices of Kanye and Rihanna. It’s frankly just refreshing to hear Rihanna’s voice not hidden by bombastic beats.
HONORABLE MENTIONS (YOU’VE HEARD THEM):
If you’re in the mood to keep thinking about collaborations, consider that some of the most visible hits of the year were also collaborations (or inspired them!)…
Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars
Taylor Swift and Kendrik Lamar
Major Lazer, DJ Snake and MO
See you Again
Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth
Krept and Konan and Ed Sheeran
Hotline Bling Cover
Cover of Drake’s song by Charlie Puth and Kehlani
…and then there’s Justin Timberlake at the Country Music Awards