With Valentines day on the horizon, journey with us through what are arguably some of the worst pairings in music history, bound to scratch your cringe-y karaoke itch.
Every so often, the music world will be graced by a collaboration that seems to be sent straight from the gods themselves to remind us all just what can happen when two great minds come together in the same room.
Think, for example, of Queen and Bowie’s ‘Under Pressure’, or more recently, Jay-Z and Kanye West’s triumphant Watch The Throne, both of which hold up as being emblematic of their time without falling to the trappings of any agenda or motive.
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However, for every great musical collaboration that exists, I can guarantee that there’ll be at least five other bad ones out there to match it, and it’s these stinkers that we’re taking a look at today.
Whether ill-advised, poorly timed, void of chemistry or plainly just bad, we’re diving head first into 10 of the corniest musical collaborations, the worst duets, of all time – so help me God.
‘Play Me’ – Korn feat. Nas
Who better to start a list about corny musical collaborations than with Korn themselves? Released amid the final wave of nu-metal mania in 2003, Take A Look In The Mirror is commonly regarded as Korn’s worst record: the production is complete garbage, the songwriting is uninspired, and even the riffs are surprisingly lacklustre.
However, if there’s any major stinker that sticks out on Take A Look In The Mirror, it’s got to be ‘Play Me’: a track the band recorded with New York rap icon Nas that simply reeks of record label cashola. There’s simply no redeeming qualities about this song, and it’s not even bad in a funny way – Nas sounds totally lifeless, and there’s absolutely no chemistry between his flow and Korn’s nu-metal stylings whatsoever. Hard pass.
‘Can’t Stop Partying’ – Weezer feat. Lil Wayne
Thought Nas and Korn would be the only maligned rap-rock crossover on this list? Of course not! This gem from 2009 sees emo trailblazers Weezer link up with the year’s hottest rapper Lil Wayne for an atrocious collaboration in the form of ‘Can’t Stop Partying.’
While the song is obviously meant to be a piss-take of similar collaborations from the era, ‘Can’t Stop Partying’ is so woefully bad that it ends up being a parody of itself, with the track suffering from cheesy production, a god awful hook from Rivers Cuomo, and one of the most eye-roll worthy Lil Wayne lines of all time with ‘Okay bitches, it’s Weezer and Weezy.’ Good thing he only gave us Tha Carter III a year prior, otherwise we’d have never let that one go.
‘Who You Love’ – John Mayer feat. Katy Perry
Look, John Mayer’s had his fair share of brilliant collaborations, but you just can’t let a stinker like this slide. Amid a clunky period of artistic reinvention in the early 2010s that saw him churn out two wildly divisive ‘back-to-roots’ records in the form of Born and Raised and Paradise Valley, Mayer linked up with his then-celebrity flame Katy Perry for a smouldering, country-tinged ballad in the form of ‘Who You Love’.
It’s certainly not the worst song on this list, and of course, Mayer’s guitar work makes it a little tolerable, but it’s definitely one of the most lifeless love ballads to be released in recent years – plus, how could anyone take that music video seriously?
‘The View’ – Lou Reed and Metallica
We all knew this one was coming. Hating on Lou Reed and Metallica’s ill-fated 2011 collaborative album Lulu is one of the best music memes to have gained traction in years, which makes sense, seeing Lulu is one of the most head-scratching releases the music world has ever had the (dis)pleasure of hearing.
If there’s one standout moment from this absolute hot mess of a record, it’s got to be ‘The View’, which sounds like Lou Reed reading out the horoscopes from the morning newspaper while Metallica sloppily jam in the background. Extra points to James Hetfield for his bizarre chorus shout of ‘I AM THE TABLE!’. Baffling till the very end.
‘Opposites Attract’ – Paula Abdul and The Wild Crew
Certainly one of the most befuddling songs of the ’80s, ‘Opposites Attract’ sees Paula Abdul team up with The Wild Crew for ‘Opposites Attract’; a new jack swing-flavoured duet that sees Abdul and The Wild Crew putting aside their contrasting personality traits in the name of love.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this, but when you pair it with a music video that sees Abdul and an animated cat busting out some saucy moves on the dancefloor, it all just gets a bit too weird to handle.
‘Accidental Racist’ – Brad Paisley feat. LL Cool J
A heartfelt number from one of the biggest country stars of today, delving into how his ‘Southern Pride’ makes him an ‘accidental racist’ with a spoken word verse from one of hip-hop’s most respected pioneers tacked on – what could go wrong? While you can’t deny Paisley probably had good intentions while writing this track, ‘Accidental Racist’ is nothing but a total disaster on all fronts.
Paisley, to be frank, sounds downright uninformed and uneducated (‘When I put on that t-shirt, the only thing I meant to say is I’m a Skynyrd fan / The red flag on my chest somehow is like the elephant in the corner of the south / And I just walked him right in the room’), while LL Cool J delivers some of the most cringe-worthy racial sentiments surely ever recorded – ‘If you don’t judge my do-rag / I won’t judge your red flag’. Yikes.
‘Dancing In The Street’ – David Bowie and Mick Jagger
Four years after the release of his incredible Queen duet ‘Under Pressure’, David Bowie linked up with yet another rock legend in the form of Mick Jagger for a rendition of ‘Dancing In The Street’, an old Motown classic covered by the likes of Van Halen, the Grateful Dead and many more.
However, unlike his pairing with Mercury, Bowie’s voice sounds remarkably flat against Jagger’s own dull vocals, and the production of the track makes it sound like a sloppy Talking Heads rip-off that should have never made it off the cutting room floor.
‘Dooo It!’ – Miley Cyrus and The Flaming Lips
At the height of her stoner/problem-child shenanigans in 2015, Miley Cyrus released the completely bizarre independent record Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz, a wildly experimental effort that was largely formulated with beloved psychedelic rockers The Flaming Lips.
While some aspects of Her Dead Petz are certainly commendable – it’s not everyday one of the biggest pop stars of the moment drops a 90 minute psychedelic pop record off the cuff – most critics absolutely tore the album to shreds upon arrival, criticising the half-baked production, sloppy performances and god awful lyricism on tracks like album opener ‘Dooo It!’ (‘Yeah, I smoke pot / yeah, I love peace / but I don’t give a fuck / I ain’t no hippie’). Maybe history will prove kinder to this record, but for now, it still holds up as a hot mess.
‘Ebony and Ivory’ – Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
‘Ebony and Ivory’ might be one of the cheesiest songs of the ‘80s, which truly is an astounding feat, given the amount of sheer tripe that dominated that decade.
Of course, Paul and Stevie’s sentiment behind the ebony/ivory metaphor is commendable, and you’ve got to give them credit for using their platform to bring up racism, but ultimately, this overwhelmingly basic, total snoozer of a track seems to show that ebony and ivory just amount to being nothing but beige. Points for trying though!
‘Come With Me’ – Puff Daddy feat. Jimmy Page
Remember the absolute train-wreck that was the 1998 cinematic reboot of Godzilla? Don’t worry if you don’t – it’s like the big screen equivalent of stepping in warm dog shit, and having to pick it off the bottom of your shoe with a stick. Of course, being the big-budget blockbuster it was, Godzilla was also complemented with an equally awful soundtrack that featured ‘Come With Me’, a track that saw hip-hop mogul Puff Daddy team up with revered Led Zeppelin shredder Jimmy Page for a total rap-rock monstrosity not too unlike the green Japanese beast featured throughout the film.
Essentially, ‘Come With Me’ is just a tepid recreation of Led Zeppelin’s epic 1975 track ‘Kashmir’ with some relatively irreverent bars from Diddy, making for a track that’ll live forever in the realms of pump-up music for amateur wrestling. If there’s any takeaway from this track, it’s that it must be more affordable to get Jimmy Page on your track than it does to chop up Led Zeppelin in an MPC and just pay the sample clearance – make of that what you will.
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