Today, music operates in a malleable environment, which means nothing is off-limits. Taking risks in music is essential to creating something unique that hasn’t been done a million times before. While a portion of the oddest crossovers between artists have turned into smash hits, others have left us scratching our heads wondering what the creators were thinking.
Here’s five wacky musician collaborations that were surprisingly well-received:
Blink 182 and Robert Smith - “All of This”
For Blink-182, this 2003 track offers a starkly different side to the typically crass, potty-mouth humor that has surrounded the group’s early music. The addition of vocals from legendary ‘80s musician and frontman of The Cure, Robert Smith, works to create a melancholic, heartachingly beautiful track. The song mulls over the heartbreak associated with unsuccessful relationships, as Smith croons, “Nothing I feel pulls at me at all / Again I wait for this to pull apart / To break my time in two / Another night with her / But I'm always wanting you.” Smith’s easily recognizable voice complements Blink-182 singer Mark Hoppus’s distinctive pop-punk vocals.
Linkin Park and Jay-Z - “Numb/Encore”
These two artists are on opposite sides of the genre spectrum. Linkin Park’s heavy rock seems out of place when considering potential collaborators for hip-hop tycoon Jay-Z. The standout track, “Numb / Encore” was the highlight of the musicians’ 2004 collaboration EP “Collision Course.” The tracks mesh together the two artists’ distinctive styles from each respective artist to create something fresh and exciting.
Foo Fighters and Norah Jones - “Virginia Moon”
It’s hard to imagine the jazzy, soulful crooner Norah Jones on a song with rock legends Foo Fighters, but Jones’ contribution to “Virginia Moon” works in blissful harmony. Lead singer Dave Grohl’s uncharacteristically softer vocals on this song harmonize with Jones’ soulful tone to create an authentic stunning track. The singers’ voices melt together perfectly as they sing, “Secret fascination, whisper a quiet tune / Hear me callin' you, Virginia moon, I'll wait for you tonight.”
Aerosmith and Run-DMC - “Walk This Way”
Before this collaboration, the combination of vastly different genres was not prevalent by any means in the music industry. This track was one of the stand-out crossovers of the ‘80s and it wowed listeners with how well it worked despite the two groups’ widely different music styles. When Run-D.M.C. covered the 1975 track with vocals from Aerosmith members, the song effortlessly combined the elements of hip-hop and rock. Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler’s piercing vocals juxtaposed nicely with the smooth flow of Joseph Simmons and Darryl McDaniels.
Kanye West and Bon Iver - “Lost in the World”
Bon Iver, fronted by leadman Justin Vernon and known in the early 2000s for stunning acoustic ballads and poignant lyrics, fits a softer, more relaxed mood compared to rapper Kanye West’s typical music style. The 2012 track samples the song “Woods” from Bon Iver’s 2009 EP “Blood Bank” as the intro. The sample beautifully sets up the melodic and atmospheric track from West. Bon Iver’s airy vocals complement the strongly poetic verse from the rapper, creating a gorgeous track that pulls your heartstrings with its evocative melody.