When Musical Collaborations Go Very Very Bad

By Hazlitt

If one is the loneliest number, then surely two musical talents firing on all cylinders will fill our ears with the hum of auditory perfection. But, as the likes of LL Cool J and Brad Paisley found out this week (“Accidental Racist” turned out to be mostly racist and not all that accidental), combining musical forces can have catastrophic results. Here is our list of the top failed collaborations. 

Lou Reed and Luciano Pavarotti Perfect Day 2001

“Perfect Day”

Lou Reed and Pavarotti
Imagine if every time you spoke, Pavarotti appeared behind you looking like the Burger King and rendered your words in suffocating vibrato. (Alexandra Molotkow)

Chris Cornell - Part Of Me (Explicit) ft. Timbaland

“Part of Me”
Chris Cornell and Timbaland
I get it, Chris Cornell. If I had just spent the last several years of my life on the road with something called Audioslave, I might have been keen for a career 180, too. Schmoozing around in a variety of very cool silken pirate shirts while singing weird vaguely misogynistic lyrics over a “fiery” “Latino” beat by a cheque-cashing Timbaland was probably not what you were going for. Anyway, congratulations on Soundgarden. (Jordan Ginsberg)

Serge Gainsbourg - Lemon Incest

“Lemon Incest”
Serge Gainsbourg and Charlotte Gainsbourg
I usually love me some synth, dad jeans, and freaky French undertones, but the sight and sound of Charlotte Gainsbourg singing and lounging on black sheets with her father Serge Gainsbourg, has me clutching my metaphorical pearls and recoiling in disgust. “Lemon Incest” is reportedly a play on words in the chorus between “Un zeste de citron” (“A lemon zest”) and “Inceste de citron” (“lemon incest”). It reached No. 2 in the French charts. Sacre Bleu, as they say. (Britt Harvey)

Eminem feat Elton John - Stan (Live)

“Stan” (live)
Eminem featuring Elton John
If I’d ruled the world in 2000 I would have thrown you in jail for even suggesting that Elton, the earthly deity whose face adorns all our money and stamps and the sides of our government buildings, whose name we give all our first-born sons, could do something like this. (AM)

Sam Moore & Lou Reed - “Soul Man” - ORIGINAL VIDEO

“Soul Man”
Lou Reed and Sam Moore

We already mentioned the Reed-Pavarotti. We could do a whole list just of bad, post-VU Lou Reed duets and collaborations. There is the justly savaged record with Metallica (Lou happened to think it “the best thing I ever did”), a turgid redo of “Jesus” with the Blind Boys of Alabama. And this kinda wobbly live attempt at “Pale Blue Eyes” with Metric. Lou has so much soul that in this video with Sam Moore he’s clearly looking down at the lyric sheet he is lip-syncing from. (Christopher Frey)

Puff Daddy ft. Jimmy Page :: Come With Me :: Official Music Video | HD

“Come With Me”
Puff Daddy featuring Jimmy Page
I loved this song in grade 7, before I’d ever heard “Kashmir.” Then I heard “Kashmir” and renounced this song, and now that I’m an adult I renounce them both because this video makes me feel embarrassed to be alive and Robert Plant sounds like he smells like pee. (AM)

Falco meets Brigitte Nielsen (1987) -Body next to body

“Body Next to Body
Falco and Brigitte Nielsen
I get hot just remembering this video. In the last verse, the underappreciated Austrian rap pioneer does some sweet freestyling while Brigitte mostly pumps her chest in and out and sexily puts her fingers in front of her face. (CF)

Judgement Night - Pearl Jam and Cypress Hill - Real Thing

The Real Thing
Pearl Jam and Cypress Hill
This was from the Judgment Night soundtrack, an early ‘90s artifact in which many famous rappers got together and recorded songs with famous hard rock bands. Other team-ups included Helmet and House of Pain, Mudhoney and Sir Mix-a-Lot, and Biohazard and Onyx. They are all terrible. I’m singling out Pearl Jam’s entry here because they are probably my favourite band and I want to hurt the one I love. (JG)


“Rocket Man”
William Shatner x 3

When there isn’t anyone operating at quite your level, there’s only one answer: DO A DUET WITH YOURSELF. Or better, two of you. This must be what being in outer space does to you. (CF)

Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis - Cruisin’

Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis
Before she was a Goop-er, BFF of Mrs. Carter, making pizzas out of angel dust and Egyptian silkworms with Mario Batali, Gwyneth Paltrow was just a leggy young blonde with a dream. This duet with Huey Lewis from the film, you guessed it, Duets, is the “Lemon Incest” of the Karaoke world. That is, total soul annihilation. (BH)

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||Raymond Pettibon
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