'Smells Like Team Spirit'- Best collaborations in music

Our writers discuss their favourite collaborations from across music.

multiple writers
25th November 2019
Images: Instagram, @sleepingwithsirens, @yultron, @kylieminogue, @nickcaveofficial, @allthingsjayz, @davidbowie, @freddiemercury Wikimedia Commons, Stefan Brending

Queen and David Bowie- 'Under Pressure'

When I hear the words music artist collaboration, the track that immediately jumps to mind is 'Under Pressure'.

This very successful tune comes from two of the 80s biggest icons, Queen and David Bowie, spawned from a chance jamming session between the 5 men after Bowie was supposed to record backing vocals for the group. All 5 are credited songwriters, but it would seem Freddie Mercury took over the musical songwriting while Bowie handled lyrics - a killer combination.

Although it was actually never performed live with both artists together, and tragically never will be, it was performed live at iconic shows such as Queens 1986 Wembley Stadium show. This 1981 hit single became Bowies 3rd UK number one hit and Queen's second, after Bohemian Rhapsody, before featuring on their album 'Hot Space' the next year.

Along with it's huge success at the time, 'Under Pressure' remains a massively influential tune to this day, being one of Queen's biggest which is saying a lot, and you'd struggle to find someone who doesn't at least recognise the chorus lines.

There are some good collaborations between artists in recent years but it has yet to be seen whether these will stand the test of time, or just provide short lived success. There are also tracks worked on by multiple other iconic artists, such as 'Say Say Say' by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson no less, but none have reached the heights of 'Under Pressure', nevermind hold them for over 3 decades.

Image: Instagram, @davidbowie, @freddiemercury

Finlay Holden

Sleeping With Sirens and Yultron- 'The Bottom'

Relatively new to the electronic scene, but a long time music producer, Yultron collaborated with Sleeping With Sirens frontman Kellin Quinn to produce a meaningful song- called The Bottom- about the impact drug and alcohol addictions can have on people.

In this collaboration, Kellin Quinn trades his previously alternative rock sound for a more electronic one. However, the song remains as impactful as any of his other ones. This powerful song explores the idea of drug glorification, something both Quinn and Yultron feel extremely strong about. They want to express the idea that drug and alcohol addictions aren’t beautiful or deep or meant to be romanticised, they have the ability to shatter and end people’s lives and the lives of those around them.

Despite the rather depressing message of the song, if you listen to the lyrics, there is no blame in them. It is truly a song of understanding, with lines such as “Believe in yourself cause you can change your life”, “Never find the answer at the bottom of a bottle” and “Tell me what you’re running from”. In an Instagram post about the song, Kellin Quinn says, “Too many young people dying.. Music and drugs don’t have to mix.. @yultron and I wanted to write a song about it.. Because we both lost friends close to us.. Not trying to tell anyone how to live their life.. Just expressing our feelings when it comes to the issue… #thebottom.” This eye-opening collaboration is sure to bring tears to your eyes and understanding into your heart. You won’t want to miss it.

Image: Instagram' @sleepingwithsirens, @yultron

Grace Lazzaro

Nick Cave and Kyle Minogue- 'Where the Wild Roses Grow'

Joining forces for the lead single of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ ninth album, Kylie Minogue and Nick Cave pulled off one of the most unlikely musical collaborations of all time. Cave wrote the song ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’ with pop rising pop starlet Kylie in mind.

He felt she was the perfect person to deliver the emotion required of the song, which was written for the 1996 album ‘Murder Ballads’, telling the notorious tale of a beautiful young woman named Eliza Day who was brutally murdered by a man whom she was dating. Cave, narrating from the perspective of the killer, seduces the young, innocent beauty, luring her to a river bank – where the wild roses grow – exclaiming, “all beauty must die”.

Upon being approached with a song of such intensity surrounding a particularly morbid subject matter, one might have expected Kylie to run a mile, but she was taken with the enigmatic Cave and so began one of music’s most unexpected yet enduring friendships. Minogue’s sweet vulnerability and Cave’s almost brooding intensity contrast with each other perfectly on this track. She perfectly captured the tragic beauty of the ill-fated protagonist and proved herself more than just another one-dimensional pop star. The chilling ballad prove the perfect formula, providing the Bad Seeds with one of their biggest commercial successes.

The Aussie duo reunited after 15 years since its release to perform the duet for an unsuspecting crowd during the filming of Cave’s film ‘20,000 Days on Earth’. The crowd’s enthusiasm proves that the haunting ballad was the perfect recipe for an instant classic which has since endured the test of time.

Image: Instagram, @nickcaveofficial, @kylieminogue

Elizabeth Lamb

Linkin Park and Jay-Z- 'Collision Course'

Combining the worlds of rock and rap has been one of the biggest challenges in music since the advent of hip-hop. Considering that these are two of the biggest genres in all of music there has been a real lack of artists who’ve combined these disciplines and had success. Linkin Park were one of these rare success stories.

Hybrid Theory- the band’s debut album- revolutionized both hip-hop and rock with its nu-metal sound combining the best elements of both genres. To describe my feelings towards this ground-breaking album would require its own article so we’ll focus on the matter at hand which is collaborations.

2004 saw Linkin Park collaborate with hip-hop’s biggest star at the time, Jay-Z. The collaboration was born from an MTV ultimate “mash-up” spawning ‘Collision Course’- a six track EP which mixed huge hits from both artists. ‘Collision Course’ was expertly produced and perfectly mixes songs which are completely different to each other- to the point where they sound stunning on the same track.

Numb/Encore is arguably the best track on the EP with Jay-Z’s bars echoing over the famous Joe Hahn introduction. Izzo/In the End is another astounding track from the EP and will undoubtedly be one that listeners gravitate to due to it being one of Linkin Park’s bigger hits.

The closing track combines Jay-Z’s 99 Problems with Points of Authority and One Step Closer. This track showcases the best of each artist and truly shows what an impressive collaboration ‘Collision Course’ is.

Image: Wikimedia Commons Stefan Brending, Instagram @allthingsjayz

Dominic Lee

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