The year 2013 has been full of hits and misses so far. Chance The Rapper gave us “Acid Rain,” Kanye continued to push the envelope and Jay Z went platinum before his album even dropped. At the same time, however, we had to suffer Ray J’s “I Hit it First,” Bieber’s sartorial choices and the news that Paris Hilton signed with Cash Money. But perhaps the greatest injustice in the year ‘13 has been the terrible collaborations we’ve witnessed between artists. Miley Cyrus and Snoop Lion? Check. LL Cool J and Brad Paisley? Sadly, check.
In celebration of these musical nightmares, we’ve decided to compile a Top Ten of the worst collabs in recent music history. Sorry, but we must shed light on these. Lest We Forget.
10. Jay-Z and Linkin Park – Collision Course
I know what you’re saying, “Dude, this is a mashup!! And it sold like a million albums!!” It actually sold 5 million records and I don’t care, it’s still wack. Just having to hear Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda spit over the beat to ‘Big Pimpin’” is reason enough to hate this nu metal-meets-hip hop album. At least it was aptly titled Collision Course because this sh*t sounds like a trainwreck at times.
The EP also helped usher in the era of the mashup, which in turn turned everyone with a laptop into a mashup DJ. How many times did we have to hear somebody rap over “C.R.E.A.M.” or “Big Poppa” just because somebody had the necessary software? Dude, you’re not Girl Talk.
9. Puff Daddy and Jimmy Page – “Come With Me”
Before Ciroc and “Making the Band,” before the name changes and gun charges, there was just Puff Daddy. The year was 1998 and Puffy was on top of the world thanks to singles like “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” and “All About the Benjamins.” He could seemingly do no wrong until he teamed up with Zeppelin guitarist and rock legend Jimmy Page to do this travesty of a song for the travesty of a movie that was “Godzilla.” And just as Matthew Broderick couldn’t stop the film from being a complete disaster, Page couldn’t stop the total overreach of Diddy into foreign and hostile territory.
On an even sadder note, the video for “Come With Me” is probably better than Godzilla.
8. Miley Cyrus and Snoop Lion – “Ashtrays and Heartbreaks”
Listen, it’s one thing to have a half-assed conversion to Rastafarianism and it’s one thing to make some less than desirable choices as to whom to work with professionally. But it’s a whole other thing when you combine the two to create a song as inexcusable as “Ashtrays and Heartbreaks.” The reggae tinged track courtesy of Diplo is an immediate sh*tshow from both a musical and visual standpoint.
The song is about doing what Snoop does best (even before his conversion): smoking weed as a way to deal with all the bullsh*t in the world. But why is Miley Cyrus singing the chorus whilst rocking her “this ain’t my first Coachella” baggy sweater and jean shorts?. Heartbreaks indeed.
7. Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow – “Picture”
You can’t knock Kid Rock. Say what you want about the overall quality of his music, but dude has straight killed it for over a decade while staying unapologetically himself. The same could be said for Sheryl Crow who has sold over 50 billion albums (no need to look up the accurateness of that statistic) without ever really changing her sound or message. But 2002’s collaborative effort “Picture” was just too much to handle at once. I like my Kid Rock singing about drinking, fighting and f*cking.
Bonus fail points for Crow’s one-time association with Lance Armstrong.
6. Skrillex and A$AP Rocky – “Wild for the Night”
I know I’m going to get excoriated for this choice, but whatever. The truth is I love A$AP, he’s an innovator, special talent, and one of the main catalysts for NYC’s recent resurgence in the rap world. But his Long. Live. A$AP. LP is not without its peaks and valleys and the valley got no lower than this collab right here. Starting off with an obvious “Mercy” impersonation and then going full steam ahead into the dangerous, Skrillex navigated waters of commercial dubstep, “Wild for the Night” should have never made its way onto A$AP’s debut. It seems forced, as neither artist has much to any experience in the other’s genre.
5. Kenny Chesney and Uncle Kracker – “When the Sun Goes Down”
Kenny Chesney has perfected the kind of Southern country boy mixed with beach bum/guitar bro image that has made real fans of each genre cringe when they’ve heard him perform for years. He’s one of the few artists, actually I’m having trouble coming up with another one, that can successfully pull off wearing a cowboy hat and a puka shell necklace at the same damn time. That takes balls. He reached the zenith of his Jimmy Buffett 2.0 transformation with 2004’s “When the Sun Goes Down,” a collaboration with the timeless Uncle Kracker. Caution: listen to this song in a well-ventilated room as its mix of Caribbean sounds (read: some steel drums at one point) and country twang can result in shortness of breath.
4. Three Six Mafia and Insane Clown Posse – “Just Anotha Crazy Click”
When you hear that the first line of a song is, “I stab you with an umbrella and open it/Cuz I’m sick like a diseased Ethiopian,” you instantly know two things: one, that Insane Clown Posse is on that song and two, that that song will suck. Sandwiched between two Triple Six classics, “M.E.M.P.H.I.S.” and “Who Run It,” “Just Anotha Crazy Click” is the only black eye on an otherwise marvelous and platinum selling When The Smoke Clears. I listened to this album obsessively in the summer of 2000 and wore the skip button out on my Walkman because of this track.
3. Eddie Murphy and Rick James – “Party All the Time”
I know, I know. This song is classic 80s and perhaps the only one that could be on the Top Ten worst and best collab lists simultaneously. In 1985, Rick James was peaking and Eddie Murphy couldn’t have been any hotter. So I get it. But that image of Murphy singing into the mic in the music video is burned into my head as the epitome of bad 80s pop (not to mention the no doubt violently coked up James appearing in the control room).
In many ways, the track is a victim of its own terribleness, i.e., you might get down to it at a party when you’re drunk and ready to make some bad decisions, but you’re not going to be putting it on your road trip playlist any time soon.
2. Christina Aguilera and Redman – “Dirrty”
How dirty is Christina Aguilera’s song “Dirrty”? So dirty they had to add an extra ‘r’ in the word dirty to show you how dirty it is. That’s pretty damn dirty. It pains me to write this because Redman is, hands down, my favorite rapper of all time, but this track is an aberration for the Funk Doc. If you can remember, this was the song that Aguilera used to rid herself of her teeny bopper image and enter the second chapter of her career: singing sexually explicit songs while dressing like a Lithuanian stripper. All she needed was to team up with a hot MC willing to bite the bullet for a nice payday.
The director clearly had a vision here too: see, it’s an underground boxing site! Redman comes through, spits his verse and looks generally uncomfortable ( take off your shirt if you want to fit in man, this illegal boxing match has just turned into a warehouse rave!). Cut to some Aguilera pelvic thrusts annnnnd scene.
1. LL Cool J and Brad Paisley – “Accidental Racist”
This one didn’t have a chance. I heard this song the day it came out and I’ve been haunted by the experience ever since. Seriously, this might not just be the worst collaboration of all time, it might be the worst song of all time. Any piece that sets out to solve racism in America is going to suck, there’s just no way around it. And any song that has LL Cool J referencing Sherman’s March and Brad Paisley saying the South is still “sifting through the rubble” of Reconstruction is going to suck that much more. The song begs the question, whose idea was this?
With lines like, “If you don’t judge my gold chains/ I’ll forget the iron chains” LL succeeded in destroying his credibility and offending most of America at the same time. I can’t imagine the engineers hearing this and not thinking, “I regret agreeing to do this.”
Oxymorons are only clever when they are done on purpose.