Five unexpected musical collaborations

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From the October 3, 2013 edition

Few could have seen Phoenix’s recent collaborations with headline-generating R&B singer R. Kelly coming, and even fewer still could have seen the unlikely combination actually working. This faction, it turns out, included the band members themselves.

“We didn’t want to allow ourselves to think it was possible,” said Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars, “but when we worked on the music it made sense.”

The same can’t be said of every musical pairing. Here are five unexpected musical collaborations that left us either scratching our heads or nodding along.

Weezer and Lil Wayne

The song is called “Can’t Stop Partying,” but it’s impossible to picture this playing at anything resembling a celebration. Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo, who came up professing a love of solitude and D&D, makes for an unconvincing club rat (“Monday to Sunday I hit all the clubs”) and Wayne’s verse is so mailed in you hope he was reimbursed for the postage.

Elton John and Eminem

Leading up to the 2001 Grammys, critics commonly denounced Eminem as misogynistic and homophobic due to the sometimes violent content in his songs, so of course he chose to perform a stellar “Stan” alongside none other than Elton John, ending the tune by hugging the singer and raising a middle finger to the doubters.

Lou Reed and Metallica

While most of the people on this list only joined up for a single song, Reed and Metallica opted to torture listeners with an entire album of ponderous noise.

Black Lips and GZA

For nearly two minutes “The Drop I Hold” sounds like an absolute disaster, with Black Lips’ Cole Alexander mumbling lines over a rickety backdrop of drums and slow-drip guitar. But stick around for the finish where Wu-Tang rapper GZA sweeps in and rescues the cut with an icy, paranoid verse that sounds like vintage Clan.

The Jonas Brothers and Common

The tune’s called “Don’t Charge Me for the Crime,” and judging from the limp execution I’d assume the crime is stealing clothes from the Gap.