Music, in its purest form, is collaboration. A group of people get together, play different instruments, and make songs. So it’s no surprise that history is littered with odd pairings of seemingly unrelated artists who have decided to collaborate on a song or an album. It’s also no surprise that many of these collaborations, such as Metallica’s recent scathingly reviewed collaboration with Lou Reed or Bono’s hilariously ill-advised duet with Frank Sinatra, just don’t work. But every once in a while, artists from different genres come together and create something that is much more than the sum of its parts. Here are five examples of odd musical pairings that worked.
Alice Cooper and Donovan “Billion Dollar Babies”
Honestly, you could write an entire article just on odd Alice Cooper pairings. From a duet with Ke$ha on his newest album to performing with Country crooner Vince Gill at a Nashville Predators game, Alice has never been afraid of crossing genre lines. We included this one for historical context. While Donovan is now remembered as a Folk Rock legend, at the time of “Billion Dollar Babies” recording, he was very much considered a Folksy Pop artist. Alice Cooper recording with “that sweet kid who sings ‘Sunshine Superman” in 1973 was the equivalent of Rob Zombie recording a duet with Adele today.
Twisted Sister, Brian Setzer, Billy Joel, and Clarence Clemons “Be Chrool to Your Scuel”
For their “Be Chrool to Your Scuel”, Hair Metal icons Twisted Sister pulled out all the collaboration stops. In addition to vocal work from Alice Cooper, this video also included piano from Billy Joel, guitar from The Stray Cats’ Brian Setzer, and sax from legendary E Street Band sax man Clarence Clemons. Unfortunately for Twisted Sister, it was the non-musical collaboration that brought this song down as they hired Living Dead makeup artist Tom Savini for the video, which was deemed too gross and promptly banned from MTV.
Manowar’s Eric Adams and Sarah Brightman “Where Eagles Fly”
You’ll be hard pressed to find an odder couple than Sword and Sorcery Power Metal vocalist Eric Adams of Manowar fame and Phantom of the Opera singer Sarah Brightman. But come together they did and the result was magical. Adams has always had one of the best sets of pipes in Metal and he held his own note for note with Brightman on “Where Eagles Fly.”
Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue “Where the Wild Roses Grow”
When moody Rocker Nick Cave tapped bubblegum Pop songstress Kylie Minogue for a track from his Murder Ballads album, most people expected a disaster. What they got was the single best song of both artists’ careers. Minogue shows a surprisingly dark side both in the song and the video, which complements Cave’s brooding perfectly.
Weird Al Yankovic and Mark Knopfler “Beverly Hillbillies”
Weird Al Yankovic has made a career of parodying artists’ most popular songs, usually with the artist’s good humored permission. But rarely has Yankovic managed to convince an artist to assist in a parody of his own work. Even more strange was that the artist who chose to spoof himself was ultra-serious Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler, who lends his signature “Money for Nothing” guitar licks to Yankovic’s “Beverly Hillbillies”.