You never know what a different point of view can bring. When artists reach out to others for a creative collaboration, possibilities for the end result are endless. And often surprisingly good.
Yes, music collaborations are not a guaranteed success but I strongly support them and look forward to seeing different artist join efforts into same or cross-genre experiments. Bringing something new and fresh to the scene is always welcome. Therefore, I believe the topic deserves room for discussion and I am dedicating this blog post to it. You can also find my personal list of favourite features as well as my wishlist for collaborations that have not yet happened but I would love to see.
Writing this post helps me realize how excited artist features actually make me. I recently read rumours about a Yungblud x Bring Me The Horizon song and a Machine Gun Kelly x Travis Barker x Halsey collab both of which are something I would love to hear.
When an artist collaborates with another artist in the music world there are generally two instinctive reactions. One is hard-to-conceal anticipation and the other one is repulsive scepticism. And I totally get both. The subject is delicate especially if it concerns an artist you truly love – will the new feature bring out the best of them or try to put them in a box that doesn’t really fit?
I don’t think any artist would be part of a project they don’t feel they belong in or they don’t support both in terms of idea and execution (okay, exceptions do apply, I admit). I see artist features as a way to expand horizons and explore unknown territories of music creation or production. And like every other challenge success is not guaranteed but hard work and finding the same vibe definitely pay off.
I fully support artists collaborating as long as they mutually respect and inspire each other – when entering the process with an open mind and willingness to get out of a comfort zone and try out new things results can be surprisingly good. So instead of rambling on and on how interesting of a topic this is I will present you the list of artist features I think prove that great things can happen when the energies of the creators match.
While She Sleeps featuring Oli Sykes (Bring Me The Horizon) – Silence Speaks
This song is the reason I got into While She Sleeps, forever grateful
Silence Speaks is the love-child of two legendary British formations having a huge role in the international metalcore scene. When it comes to While She Sleeps the heavy and agitated sound is combined with clearly expressed values and strong political standpoints taking a central part in their music. This song is a great example of how the band orchestrates the many unique elements of their identity to achieve high value and inspire listeners to reflect on the current state of society.
The feature of Oli Sykes seems completely natural and necessary. His iconic screams and growls are an element which simply needs to be included in the song. Despite having just a few very badass seconds of a segment he manages to imprint his unique touch to the track and make it impossible to imagine it without his part. The dynamics between the band and Sykes just speak for themselves.
Busta Rhymes featuring Linkin Park – We Made It
One of the best piano instrumentals segments to this day. Yes, I said it
This song radiates epicness – the beat, the flow, the lyrics, and the video all fill you up with the feeling of being able to conquer the world.
Busta Rhymes and Linkin Park are both well-established names in their creative fields. Naturally, a collaboration between two gave a worthwhile result. As a band always pushing their boundaries and entering unknown territories of music exploration Linkin Park fit perfectly as a featured artist in We Made It.
Mike Shinoda’s rapping style compliments Busta Rhymes’ slightly more aggressive and confident flow. Chester Bennington’s vocals, as we all know, can both dominate gentle singing tones and aggressive screams which find the perfect balance in the particular track. The final result is an energizing anthem that will never fail to lift up your mood and get you hyped up for the next challenge you have to face.
Mod Sun featuring Machine Gun Kelly – Stay Away
Mod Sun and Machine Gun Kelly have collaborated several times before but I consider their latest track – Stay Away their best work yet. Unlike most of their previous group efforts which focus on more fun and easy-going type of experience Stay Away hits incredibly hard with deep, raw emotional substance.
The song tells a story most people can relate to and thrives off the explored emotions – hurt, pain, and love-related devastation. The track is incredible by itself but the flawless dynamics and the way the two artists obviously relate to each other make it even better work of art. It is impossible to not get affected by the classy storytelling and fitting instrumental support.
YUNGBLUD and Halsey featuring Travis Barker – 11 Minutes
Two artists with equally contagious passion and emotional musical repertoire, what could go wrong?
Speaking of emotionally infused tracks with high relatability and supreme dynamics – 11 Minutes by Yungblud and Halsey is hard to top.
The song has a similar thematic exploring a love-related situation which has unfortunately ended with a painful conclusion. Everything about this collaboration is done with precision and a lot of thought which becomes obvious once you get deeper into the lyrics and the supporting video.
The melodic construction takes listeners through the situation described with metaphorical lyrics – the stages of losing someone you love and all the typical feelings that follow. The video represents everything described in a hauntingly beautiful way and the vocals by the two artists who were destined to work together add the finishing touch of an incredible listening experience.
Mac Miller featuring Ariana Grande – My Favorite Part
Another duet by former lovers – Mac and Ariana make romance take form in one of The Divine Feminine’s strongest pieces.
Mac Miller was one of the most open-minded and diverse artists in the hip-hop scene. The journey of his career provides numerous examples for his undeniable passion and hard-to-match skills for the art.
The Devine Feminine is an album constructed purely around honouring the beauty and glory of the female body and soul – featuring Mac’s former soul mate, the pop queen Ariana Grande, seems expected for such a record.
My Favorite Part tells the story of appreciation and intoxication towards a person you have fallen head over heels for. Mac’s absolute realness and dedication the feelings he talks about shine bright and the sweet contribution of Ariana Grande’s stunning voice and noticeable charisma make the song a real thrill – your heart will certainly melt, this I can promise.
ASAP Rocky featuring FKA Twigs – Fukk Sleep
One collaboration which always makes me ecstatic is a very abstract but well-working piece of art. ASAP Rocky and FKA Twigs are both known for their experimental nature and willingness to push music forward by discarding the meaning of genre classification. Their joined effort in Fukk Sleep is a wild experience which will undoubtedly make you feel like you have accidentally taken a bigger does of drugs than you intended.
The song is surprisingly catchy despite its fragmented nature. Typical for the Testing album Fukk Sleep features the segmented lyrical content and specific for ASAP flow accompanied by modern beats structure and psychedelic visuals. FKA Twigs fits very comfortably in the whole extraordinary composition and adds her unique touch to the song. I highly recommend watching the video directed by Diana Kunst for an enhanced experience.
Stormzy featuring Raleigh Ritchie – Don’t Cry For Me
UK rap essentials
I have just recently joined the Stormzy hype but I am genuinely impressed with the substance, meaning, and sound constriction of his music. The UK hip-hop artist recently gained steam and became an international sensation – his two full-lengths Gang Signs and Prayer (2017) and Heavy Is The Head(2019) illustrated his undeniable skills and relevant songwriting quite well.
Don’t Cry For Me is part of 2017’s record and features another equally deep-diving and skilled artist – Raleigh Ritchie. Despite operating in two different styles and leaning towards slightly different thematics the two musicians managed to find the perfect balance and each of them puts in his unique touch in the emotion-invoking track. Don’t Cry For Me takes hip-hop back to its roots and displays the classic storytelling approach about issues heavily affecting the artist. Strong notes of reminiscence and past-present parallels are also evident in the retelling of Stormzy’s emotional past episode.
This is just one of the many great collaborations the UK phenomenon is part of but I think it really deserves a closer look.
Mike Shinoda featuring Chino Moreno and Machine Gun Kelly – Lift Off
I am an absolute fanboy for Mike Shinoda’s solo career and I am extremely happy he decided to develop it after the sudden cease of Linkin Park’s possibility to continue as a band (not official but I simply don’t see it happening). Mike has many talents and keeps expending his competences non-stop which has led to the production of some high-quality music.
Lift Off is one particular collaboration I really, really appreciate. I think it stands strong as a group effort of three very different artists who managed to preserve their uniqueness but combine it to create an out-of-this-world end result.
Mike is a lyrical genius and this is not a secret – he has the personal touch and storytelling, sharp remarks towards critics and negativity coming his way, badass lines, and simply well-arranged composition and verses. Machine Gun Kelly and Chino Moreno (Deftones) are also incredible musicians who also happen to be close friends of Mike. Their work on the track is spot-on with perfectly fitting contribution – genuine and emotional lyrics delivered with class by MGK and sensual complimentary singing by Moreno. Not to mention the stunning combination of beats and instrumentals supporting the three different but harmonized parts.
Anderson .Paak featuring Smokey Robinson – Make It Better
Anderson .Paak is another one of the artists whose list of features with supreme quality is nearly endless. Choosing just one to mention was a challenge, not going to lie, but Make It Better has a special place in my heart.
The song is part of the record Ventura where Paak dared to explore the territories of RnB, soul, and jazz-inspired hip-hop way more proactively than usual. And the result was, as you might guess, a sensual masterpiece. Much of the tracklist is dedicated to love-related ode’s and learned lessons and Make It Better certainly stands out as the most impactful and relevant one in my list.
Smokey Robinson adds the necessary touch of sensuality and elegance to the already delicate track. The gentle and well-delivered vocals work in unison with Paak’s rap verses and singing parts to bring the story of the song to life in the best possible way. A true romantic credo Make It Better will make you appreciate each and every effort you and your partner have ever put in a relationship and remind you what true love is all about.
Fall Out Boy feat Big Sean– The Mighty Fall
Save Rock and Roll is a very intriguing album to get into by an equally intriguing band. The history of the American punk-rockers is so turbulent and controversial it made them one of the most distinguishable acts in the entire world. Love them or hate them you certainly have heard of Fall Out Boy.
Save Rock and Roll was another one of those records showcasing the band proving themselves and coming up with something new, different, and completely unexpected. With pop, RnB, and even hip-hop influences Fall Out Boy took their punk-rock foundation and took it on a very interesting ride featuring various inspirations. The result was a very well-done album with a dominating for 2013 sound and incredibly creative video/storytelling elements. Each of the 11 songs got a music video telling a compelling story which was later released as The Young Blood Chronicles including a proper narrative (honestly, I don’t think this band gets enough credit for what they have done for the music industry).
Save Rock and Roll also had a notable amount of guest artists including Elton John and Courtney Love amongst other well-known icons. The one particular feature I got irresistibly attracted to is Big Sean in The Mighty Fall –a playful song with the typical for Fall Out Boy lyrics and splendid musical execution. The Big Sean part works surprisingly well and fits the atmosphere the punk-rock formation worked hard to achieve making up for a great listening experience.
Thirty Seconds To Mars featuring Halsey – Love Is Madness
Another very well-working guest appearance by the one and only Halsey is evident in Thirty Seconds To Mars’ track from their latest record America. Love Is Madness dwells on expectations, lust, and romance in a very provocative and intriguing way. The simple structure with a heavy focus on beat/instrumental indicators for suspense and the vocal exchange between Jared and Halsey make the magic work for me.
The track is quite addictive and a great soundtrack for summer romance. The definition of love in the chorus will certainly resonate with listeners in one way or another and the best part is the entire song can have many meanings depending on personal experiences. The only certain thing is that Jared and Halsey definitely work well as duet and we need more collaborations of this kind.
Tove Lo featuring MC Zaac – Are You Gonna Tell Her?
I almost left that one out but I have to give credit to Tove Lo and her special energy. An artist with an open mind, playful attitude, and explosive party-starter tracks in her pocket certainly deserves to be talked about.
Are You Gonna Tell Her has a similar summer “romance” vibe to Love Is Madness and will urge the birth of a dancy party move without any issues. MC Zaacand Tove Lo take turns in telling a story and using the seductive beat to create one worthwhile experience which is just another splendid addition to Tove Lo’s impressive discography.
This post is already larger than it was initially intended so why not go all the way? This is my personal wishlist of artist collaborations that have not yet happened but I am convinced would be a really good match. I will be quick I promise.
NF and Token
This is the first image that pops up in my head when I think about unrealized collabs with huge potential. NF and Token are both incredible rappers with unique stage personas, style, and flow but they also have overlapping elements which would ensure a collaborative song would dominate the modern hip-hop scene. Token’s sense of timing, rapid-fire flow, and competence in the areas of agitating subjects and personal reflection could easily match NF’s explosive persona and supreme lyrical content.
Bring Me The Horizon and Yonaka
Bring Me The Horizon is one of the most relevant acts in modern music and a band which has proved that pushing boundaries and experimenting freely produces incredible results. Their list of features is long enough and it actually includes Yonaka in the Music To Listen To… EP. However, I think this only scratched the surface and showed the vast potential of a proper collaboration between the two bands. Tabs is a great start but we need to hear a full-fledged song, why make us wait, the energy is clearly there!
Billie Eilish and Yungblud
Both young superstars, both incredibly emotional artist, both genius when it comes to music. Do I need to say more? The vibes clearly match and the ability to produce both extremely emotional music and burning energy anthems that Eilish and Yungblud possess only means the ways to collaborate are more than one.
Machine Gun Kelly and Noah Cyrus
Ever since I got into Noah Cyrus I have imagined her appear on an MGK song. Both artist are very emotional and tend to dive deep into personal issues and self-inflicted pain so I can easily see a collaboration similar to Mod Sun and Machine Gun Kelly’s Get Away. I think Noah’s voice will be a great compliment to The Gunner’s singing and I really want to see that happen soon.
What are your top picks of artist features? Which ones do you think would work well but haven’t been done yet?
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