4 Weird, Unexpected Collaborations Of Famous Musicians
These days, the average "featuring" list of a song's artists can be longer than its title, but it's usually just a bunch of friends chilling in the studio and figuring they could make a buck at the same time. Sometimes, though, people you never thought would even end up in the same room join forces, with decidedly mixed results ...
Mariah Carey Made a Grunge Album
In 1995, a division of Columbia Records released an album by proto-riot grrl band Chick called Someone's Ugly Daughter, which is the most 1995 sentence ever written. After failing to really go anywhere, the album quietly fell out of print, and Chick disappeared. Well, not really. Chick wasn't really a band so much as a composite of various studio personnel, a relatively unknown alternative musician named Clarissa Dane, and her former roommate/Columbia's shining star, Mariah Carey.
Carey was recording her hit album Daydream at the time and, as the kids say, really going through it. Some might say she never really got through it, but there was a lot riding on the album, and her brand new marriage to producer Tommy Mottola was already failing harder than Glitter. To blow off steam after long Daydream recording sessions, she created the "alter ego" of "a dark-haired brooding goth girl who wrote and sang ridiculous tortured songs." Hey, some of us eat pizza rolls and play Candy Crush, while some of us become new people. Fun fact: This character later evolved to become the Jerry O'Connell-stealing vixen of the "Heartbreaker" music video.
What a wasted opportunity for a rap battle.
In fact, we never got to hear as much of this character as we could have. Carey brought in Dane and the ridiculous tortured songs she'd written and recorded Someone's Ugly Daughter over the course of several months of late nights, but when she decided to actually release the album, the label insisted on centering Dane's vocals so as not to tarnish Carey's squeaky clean image, unaware that she'd do it for them within a few years, one manic TRL striptease at a time. They also insisted she change the band's name from Eel Tree, but she created the album's cover art with "pink lipstick over a Polaroid picture Tommy had taken of a giant dead cockroach in Italy," directed the music video for an extremely third-wave feminist single called "Malibu" …
… and can definitely be heard in its suspiciously layered vocals.
According to Carey, however, there is a version of the album that features her own lead vocals, and she's determined to find it so we can all experience an alternate reality in which she was raised in Seattle, morally opposed to voice lessons.
Nirvana Backed a Children's Band
Speaking of Seattle, Nirvana couldn't be said to be the most kid-friendly band, what with all the songs about rape and murder, but their onstage antics and lyrics about asking Grandma to take them home had a certain child-like spirit. That might be why, in the early '90s, Kurt Cobain apparently struck up a friendship with fellow rocker Jad Fair's young stepson, Simon Timony. Note that it is not clear if he was friends with his stepfather as well; we like to think that it was a strictly Up situation.
Timony, 10 years old in 1994, had his own rock band called the Stinky Puffs with the son of Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo, so they certainly had plenty in common. They were so tight that Cobain put Timony in charge in Nirvana's fan club, a position he used to get candy instead of money from members, and Cobain's journals contain letters to Timony, asking for artwork for In Utero.
Tragically, Cobain didn't live long enough to expand their Big Daddy-ish empire, which clearly affected Timony deeply. He wrote an absolute tearjerker (but still guitar-smasher) of a song for Cobain called "I'll Love You Anyway" …
… which he performed with the Stinky Puffs at the Yo-Yo a Go-Go festival in summer 1994, along with Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic in their first performance since Cobain's death. Four songs they played together, including a jaunty little ditty called "Menendez' Killed Their Parents" because this kid was Cobain's protegee, after all ...
… were recorded for inclusion on the Stinky Puffs's debut EP A Little Tiny Smelly Bit of ... the Stinky Puffs, immortalizing that time Nirvana backed a couple of babies who called themselves that.
Timony went on to write a whole album of songs about his grief for Cobain called Songs and Advice for Kids Who Have Been Left Behind, but he seems to have made it out alright. He was in the news again in 2012 for getting every shit beaten out of him as he tried to single-handedly protect a crowded city bus from sports hooligans trying to topple it. Between the crazed, bloody photo in that article and the note that Timony still plays music, specifically "a metal-punk hybrid with a flair for smooth melodies and political lyrics," we think Cobain would be proud.
Fergie and Slash Were Longtime Collaborators
The beginning of the 2010s was a confusing time for all of us: Facebook and all of us were still trying to figure each other out (Spoiler: it sucks), there was that Lost finale (Spoiler: it sucks), and Slash became Fergie's biggest fan. Nobody was more surprised than he was; in fact, he might have been the only person in the world, despite working in the same industry, who didn't know what she looked like. He was just inexplicably dragged into the Black Eyed Peas' Peapod fundraiser, and he "was expecting, really, I thought, a Puerto Rican girl, 'cause of the way that her songs sort of sound. And so here's this white girl from Orange County, and that really sort of surprised me." It was just the beginning of the stupid things Fergie would lead Slash to say.
Apparently, they started jamming on a Led Zeppelin song, and "she jumped on the vocal and it just blew my mind." He's spent a frankly jarring amount of interview time praising Fergie's voice, most notably insisting that "She's got a lot of balls for a female singer. She's one of the best women I've ever heard," which mostly just speaks to a guy who, again, clearly doesn't spend a lot of time listening to music that didn't come out of his own hands. She became his stunt Axl, frequently joining him onstage to sing "Paradise City" and "Sweet Child O' Mine," culminating in a rather poorly received performance at the 2011 Super Bowl. So that's what that was about. (To be fair, there's video evidence that Fergie can, under other circumstances, handle the song better than a toddler juggling water balloons covered in butter.)
Naturally, when it came time to record his debut solo album, he tapped her alongside a number of high-profile vocalists, but the story of how her song, "Beautiful Dangerous," came to be suggests he might have been interested in a little more than her vocal talents. "The track began as a piece of music I'd written as a score for a strip bar scene, and it made me think of [Fergie]," he said. "I'm a guy, and there's nothing sexier than seeing a cute girl sing rock 'n' roll." The video featured the pair in a number of suggestive situations, though Slash claimed it was all his wife's idea. Incidentally, they have since divorced. For her part, Fergie named her son Axl. Stone cold.
Stevie Nicks and Prince Inspired Each Other's Best Songs
It doesn't seem like Stevie Nicks and Prince would have much in common, being respectively 0% and 100% funk, but a fateful drive to Santa Barbara set off a chain of events that led to a beautiful -- and profitable -- friendship. In 1983, Nicks made the very weird but ultimately irrelevant decision to marry her recently deceased BFF's husband, and she was on her way to her honeymoon when "Little Red Corvette" came on the radio.
Naturally, she started singing along because despite being made mostly of shawls and pixie dust, she's human, and the idea for the similarly synthesizer-driven "Stand Back" popped fully formed into her mind. It was so urgent that she couldn't even make it to the honeymoon suite before she had to stop to buy a tape recorder and put down a demo right there because not even the promise of post-wedding sex can distract you when you've been blessed by Prince.
Later, post-post-wedding sex, she did the honorable thing and called up Prince (because one of Stevie Nicks's superpowers is the ability to track down Prince's phone number) to let him know about the song, offer him half the royalties, and hey, if he wanted to drop by the studio, that could be cool. "Never in a million years did I think this man would be like, 'I'll be right there,'" she remembered, but "he was there in 20 minutes." He showed up, laid down some synths, and left, all in the span of about an hour and a half. He was uncredited on the track, so no one knew of his involvement for decades.
The world lost a lot when it lost Prince, but no small part was his delightful habit of randomly bestowing his Princeness upon people.
But Prince walked away with just as much from the encounter. Perhaps to reacquaint himself with just who this Stevie Nicks person was, as Prince could not possibly be expected to think about anyone who isn't him, he apparently revisited her 1981 debut solo album, specifically the future Destiny's Child sample "Edge of Seventeen." You know, the one about the white-winged dove that sings a song that sounds like she's singing "ooh, ooh, ooh."
You know where this is going. According to Nicks, Prince told her that her song inspired him to write his own interpretation of what it sounds like "When Doves Cry." In fact, he offered her the opportunity to write the lyrics of this little song he was working on that ended up being "Purple Rain." After she heard the track, even she was like, "Nope, this is too good, I don't want to smudge it up with my stupid rock legend hands," which was probably for the best. If purple never becomes Prince's signature color, we never get the greatest Prince video of all time.
Top Image: Julie Krammer/Wiki Commons