Snoop Dogg's rap added some grit to Katy Perry's summer smash "California Gurls." It's still a Popsicle, to borrow an image from the record, but the flavor is now tangy lime instead of cool watermelon.Paramore, and sweet-voiced crooner Bruno Mars to sing on his hits "Airplanes" and "Nothin' On You," respectively. Jay-Z's latest album The Blueprint 3 are collabos. "Run This Town" with Rihanna and Kanye West; "Empire State Of Mind" with Alicia Keys and "Young Forever" with Mr. Hudson have sold a combined total of 8,379,000 copies. (Jay-Z signifies how important his collabo partners are by giving them equal billing, not just featured credit.)
Blending pop and rap is smart business. It's like blending elements of comedy and action in a movie to try to expand the potential audience. Or adding a love story to bring in a female audience. Or casting actors of different races to try to appeal to a wider range of fans.Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour." But I'm not sure it would have been as big a hit in today's market without the rap element. That mix of pretty and harder-edged is the sound of popular music in 2010.
Collaborations most obviously benefit the lead artists. The songs are featured on their albums, after all.
But they also benefit the featured artists. "California Gurls," which was #1 on the Hot 100 for six weeks, is by far the biggest hit that Snoop Dogg has ever had. He hasn't had a #1 album since 1998 or a #1 single (as a lead artist) since 2004, but he's back on top with what may wind up as the year's biggest hit.
"Airplanes" introduced Hayley Williams to a much broader audience than knew her from her hits with Paramore (including "Misery Business" and "Decode"). This exposure and heightened awareness will almost certainly boost the sales of Paramore's next album.Travie McCoy's "Billionaire" (which is #19 for the year-to-date) have built anticipation for Mars' debut album, which is due later this year. Justin Timberlake's reunion with Timbaland on "Carry Out" (which is #20 for the year-to-date) has served to keep Timberlake's name out there during what has become a long hiatus between albums. (Timberlake's last album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, was released nearly four years ago.) The pop superstar and the hip-hop producer/artist have teamed on three previous top 15 hits: Timberlake's career defining "SexyBack," Timbaland's "Give It To Me" (which also featured Nelly Furtado) and 50 Cent's "Ayo Technology." Eminem featuring Rihanna jumps to #1 on this week's Hot 100. It has been #1 on the Hot Digital Songs chart for four straight weeks. Most of Eminem's previous collaborations were with fellow rappers, though he sampled Dido's "Thankyou" on his 2000 hit "Stan" and he backed up R&B star Akon on a 2006 smash, "Smack That." For her part, Rihanna has collaborated with several rappers, including Jay-Z ("Umbrella" and "Run This Town"), T.I. ("Live Your Life") and Young Jeezy ("Hard"). Biz Markie to rap on his song "Think Of You." Usher's subsequent hits have featured such rappers as Lil Jon and Ludacris ("Yeah!"), Young Jeezy ("Love In This Club"), Lil Wayne ("Love In This Club Part II") and Plies ("Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home)").
Other hit collaborations from this year that combine rap with pop (or R&B) include "Bedrock" by Young Money featuring Lloyd; "Baby By Me" by 50 Cent featuring Ne-Yo; "Tie Me Down" by New Boyz featuring Ray J; "Spotlight" by Gucci Mane featuring Usher; and "Sex Room" by Ludacris featuring Trey Songz.
The Best Rap/Sung Collaboration category at the Grammys has been home to some of the biggest hits of the past decade. Seven of the first nine winners reached #1 or #2 on the Hot 100.Beyonce's "Crazy In Love" (the winner for 2003) and Rihanna's "Umbrella" (2007). He was a co-lead artist with Linkin Park on "Numb/Encore" (2005) and with Rihanna and Kanye West on "Run This Town" (2009). Eve featuring Gwen Stefani; 2002: "Dilemma" by Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland; 2004: "Yeah!" by Usher featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris; 2006: "My Love" by Justin Timberlake featuring T.I.; and 2008: "American Boy" by Estelle featuring Kanye West.
So, what will win in this super-competitive year? "Empire State Of Mind," which was released at the start of the eligibility period, is still the record to beat, though such blockbuster hits as "California Gurls," "Airplanes," "Nothin' On You" and "Love The Way You Lie" will give it a run for its money.
- Hayley Williams
- California Gurls
- Bruno Mars