5 Duets by Musicians Who Were Singing Different Songs
The timeline of music history is littered with tons of great collaborations between amazing musicians. Over the past couple of decades, though, artists doing guest spots on their music friends' songs have become the norm. It's so common between rappers and singers that they had to invent an entirely new Grammy category, the stupidly named "Best Rap/Sung Collaboration."
The Illuminati won it this year!
It's been this pairing, rappers and singers, that has produced some of the most baffling collaboration results of all. Those two groups, for the most part, have radically different agendas when they put pen to paper, and it shows when they hit the studio together. So much so that the end result makes it seem like the two parties were recording entirely different songs. A few examples are listed below.
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Here are five duets by musicians who were clearly singing different songs.
Beyonce and Jay-Z -- "Crazy in Love"
Right off the bat, how adorable is that picture? Crazy adorable, probably. I don't know if that's something you can measure with any real precision. It's sort of adorable, at the very least. You know, because they're sitting next to each other. And they're in love. Crazy in love, in fact! We know that because it's the name of the song and because Beyonce is clearly singing about that very state of being from the moment it starts.
Her opening verse is a whole bunch of sweet stuff about looking deep into eyes and calling names out loud (if you know what I mean ) and all of the other typical come-ons we expect to hear in pop songs these days. Seeing as how this was one of the earliest entries in the power couple's ever-expanding joint catalog, you'd expect both parties would have that same new-love scent permeating their performances.
Nope! Beyonce manages to keep it romance-related throughout the song, but Jay-Z goes off topic immediately with boasts about how his "flow is loco" and some jazz about being "stick boney," which makes for a hilarious contrast with his pockets, which are "fat like Tony."
Goddamn he loves his wife!
On the bright side, at least he's not being completely embarrassing. You can't even say that much about his turn on their most recent and similarly titled collaboration, "Drunk in Love."
In a fun turn of events, both sides have a go at playing the rhyme machine. To Jay-Z's credit, he at least makes sure to talk about sex in this song, which is definitely about sex. Sex and drinking, rather, and this verse covers both heavily. Well done for that, but when consumed whole, it's kind of like watching a baseball player nearly hit an inside the park home run, only to get tagged out after hilariously tripping halfway down the third base line. He breaks everything with five words:
"Your breasteses is my breakfast ..."
Come on, man -- as great as that breakfast would be, that shit barely rhymes, if it rhymes at all. Even that could be forgiven if it was done in the name of pulling off a particularly clever joke or punchline. Unfortunately, "Your breasteses is my breakfast" sounds like something a crazy homeless person would yell at an attractive woman in the morning.
So, it is actually pretty clever, just not Jay-Z clever.
Ol' Dirty Bastard and Mariah Carey -- "Fantasy"
Surprise! Ol' Dirty Bastard recorded a verse on a song and it didn't make any sense! Right, that's not a surprise at all. In the crazy department, the most shocking thing here is that his crazy didn't trigger anything to bring out the crazy that we've all since come to know definitely resides somewhere deep inside Mariah Carey.
For the most part, Mariah always held it together on record, which definitely wasn't the case with the man who eventually called himself Big Baby Jesus. There came a point where it was just expected that if he was the featured guest, the song in question was going to feature nonsense. Mariah Carey's "Fantasy" is one of the earliest examples of this particular ODB quirk.
Just like the Beyonce song before this, "Fantasy" begins with the song's guest rapper dropping a few minor clues as to the direction he's planning to go once he's finally allowed to steer the ship. He does that in the form of a rambling list of shoutouts to various cities, which starts with New York. That makes perfect sense. It's a little less explainable when he shouts out "Sacramento" a few lines later, and then, a few short lines after that, the "West Coast." If I'm not mistaken, that would've covered Sacramento as well. Either way, nobody's fantasy involves Sacramento unless you're a Kings fan hoping your team doesn't pack up their shit and head for a real city in the next five years.
Mariah Carey rights the ship shortly after that and keeps things on course lyrically for as long as she can, but inevitably guest stars must be given their chance to shine, and when Ol' Dirty Bastard got that chance in this song, he used it mostly to ramble aimlessly.
Sure, the entire song is worth whatever aggravation it causes just to hear the line "Me and Mariah go back like babies and pacifiers," which they did, apparently. From there, though, it's pretty clear he's just saying a bunch of stuff that rhymes.
However, it's a lot better than what the Insane Clown Posse got for their money when they paid ODB $30,000 to record a song. He repaid that investment by showing up and delivering a bunch of nonsensical mumbling, which was eventually edited into four lines that rhymed and released as a song called "Bitches," because who needs standards?
That said, any ICP song that doesn't feature ICP exclusively is always an above average ICP song in my book. Also, Ol' Dirty Bastard wasn't the only Wu-Tang member with a proclivity for showing up on other people's songs to spout nonsense.
Raekwon and Kanye West -- "Gorgeous"
Wu-Tang Clan stalwart Raekwon is no stranger to making absolutely no sense. Often joined by his work husband and fellow gibberish enthusiast Ghostface Killah, Raekwon has practically built a career on stringing together words that have no relation to each other whatsoever other than that they rhyme. There's usually a reference to a fashion designer and a few metaphors for cocaine tossed in to make it seem like there's some sort of theme to the madness.
There isn't, though. That's especially true of Raekwon's guest spot on "Gorgeous," a song from Kanye West's super duper great My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album.
It's always a challenge figuring out exactly what Kanye West is complaining about from song to song, and that's still relatively true here. Everything from the South Park fish sticks fiasco to lusting after that "American Apparel girl in just tights" draws a mention.
Pictured above, for reference purposes.
That said, at least it's clear that he's complaining about something. When the baton is passed to Raekwon, what comes next is basically 16 bars of various brand names punctuated with a few mentions about smoking weed. That's how his verse opens ...
Stetson? Someone's fancy!
... and he doesn't ease up on the pointless pedal until the song finally grinds to a stop:
What kind of "plan" is this, exactly?
Don't get me wrong, Raekwon says incomprehensible nonsense in a more entertaining fashion than almost anyone else, so it's still good times having him on the song. Would it kill him to string those words together in a way that means something when he has company over, though?
Bobby Brown on Any Bobby Brown Song
The marriage of rap and pop music wasn't always a perfect one. In the early days, the main problem was that everyone assumed they could rap as long as they could make words rhyme. This led to some of the most horrid music the '90s had to offer. Remember all those rap songs Prince released in the first half of that decade? Probably not, and I'm pretty sure the reason he had every video of him scrubbed from the Internet is so you never do.
It will probably be these glasses that cost us our stock photo privileges someday.
He wasn't the only singer who assumed that ready access to a live microphone automatically translated to rap ability. Bobby Brown would break into rap verses all the goddamn time, and not once did they have a single thing to do with the subject of the song at hand. For example, the video version of "Every Little Step" featured an added rap verse all about how awesome he is at rapping ...
... which is weird, because it's a song about two people who are meant to be in love. Maybe singing Bobby Brown and rapping Bobby Brown are those two people? It's hard to know for sure. What I do know is that he's wrong about being good at that shit. Prince was a better rapper. That didn't stop Bobby Brown from trying, though. A lot. Like on this song from the Ghostbusters II soundtrack.
Not only does the rap in that song have nothing to do with the song itself, but it's clearly just been tagged on to the beginning to make everything seem Ghostbusters related. MC Hammer did Taco Bell commercials that were less of a sellout.
Weirdly, Bobby Brown kept his off-topic lyric-writing habit contained to his own catalog. Of course, that's because he likely didn't receive a ton of invites to rap on other artists' songs. You know, because he was terrible at it and all. There was one exception, though. As luck would have it, the sole hit by Glenn Medeiros featured guest rhymes from Bobby Brown.
Inexplicably, while every other Bobby Brown rap verse makes it seem like he's recording two different songs with two separate versions of himself, in the company of this stranger, he manages to deliver an entire verse that fits right in with the theme, which is about how that broad isn't worth it. You know the one.
Bobby Brown may have derailed his own songs on a regular basis with "rap" verses that didn't make any sense, but at least he was on his best behavior when asked to be a guest.
Lady Gaga and R. Kelly -- "Do What U Want"
A few months back, Lady Gaga and R. Kelly made headlines for performing all of the sex acts two people possibly can while fully clothed, live on the nationally broadcast stage of Saturday Night Live.
While I will confess that seeing Lady Gaga pretend-sex R. Kelly was surprising, the song itself is the real story. If you listen to it as background music, it sounds like it's mostly about sex stuff, but seeing as how the first verse ends with a complaint about the media printing outrageous stories, everything from there (at least until R. Kelly shows up) sounds more like a song about how Lady Gaga doesn't care if people write stories about her maybe having a dick ...
... because at least they can't stop her from speaking her mind. That's a respectable message, but things get a lot less clear once R. Kelly brings his own unique flourishes to the party. For one thing, by law, R. Kelly shouldn't be allowed within 50 yards of a song about having your way with someone's body. We're talking about a guy who "allegedly" pissed on a teenage girl on video. A line like "I can be the drink in your cup" sounds dirty enough from any singer, but coming from R. Kelly, it sounds like a criminal threat.
Relax, I only used this picture because how he's dressed makes him look like a criminal.
Speaking of that, shouldn't he be riding the "unfair media portrayal" train with his duet partner? He doesn't, but perhaps all of those lines he delivers about having a really busy schedule explain why he missed it? It's hard to say, but whatever the case, by the time he's done working his magic, this just sounds like the next in a long line of songs that have been written about R. Kelly urinating on people.
The next time we hear from Lady Gaga anywhere outside the chorus is when she drops back in with a few lines about how she's terrified of being let go by an unidentified individual. So, not only does the presence of R. Kelly make it sound like this song is about someone being peed on, but that gear change on Lady Gaga's part kind of implies she's being held captive in his golden shower dungeon somewhere.
In other words, this is the coolest fucking Lady Gaga song ever.
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