by (@zaragolden)

The 9 Most Unexpectedly Delightful Musical Collaborations Of 2012

The year is running down, and like everyone else, we are bundling up our most memorable musical moments from the year into a slew of Best Of’s. Before we get to the more obvious lists — the best albums, the best songs — we thought we would have a little fun. First up: 9 delightful collaborations, made all the more so for their unexpectedness. We aren’t talking Watch The Throne-style of-course-they-would team-ups, we’re talking collaborations that we couldn’t in our wildest dreams have imagined or that we thought we would never see, like — well, these nine:

9. Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars, “Safe & Sound”


Barton Hollow is totally “an indie record much cooler than mine,” but more careful observer might have predicted this unlikely but delightful collaboration, as Swift began yammering about her fellow Nashville transplants The Civil Wars on twitter long before this was even a possibility. We, however, were left breathless upon learning that one of the day’s biggest pop stars had teamed-up with one of our favorite You Oughta Know acts — and for a song for such a pivotal moment in the Hunger Games movie, no less! Joy Williams harmonizing turns Taylor’s girlish coo haunting, and John Paul White‘s patient guitar plucking gets the whole thing swirling.  See also: “The Last Time,” Taylor’s distressed duet with Gary Lightbody of Northern Ireland’s mostly absent as of late folk rock set Snow Patrol. Taylor is a slick machine when it comes to her music, and it was a surprise to see her reaching out of bounds for this one.

8. Ke$ha and Iggy Pop, “Dirty Pop”


Hard to believe as it may be given the boom box beats and all the sing-rapping that resulted, Warrior is allegedly a tribute to the genre Ke$ha loves the most: rock and roll. If you really strain your ears, you may hear some of that “old hippie rock” in the breakdown of “Die Young.” You won’t have to try so hard with “Dirty Pop,” which features Iggy Pop, a true and blue rock star and someone Ke$ha has spent a lot of time talking about through the years. The joy she must have felt the first time she heard him call her “Wild Child” on her own song is evident. See also: “2012,” K$’s duet with fellow weirdos The Flaming Lips.

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M.I.A.’s “atTENTtion” Features The Awesome Bone Crusher Ad-Lib From “Never Scared”

We’re usually all about anti-harassment on social media–even when you loathe the celebrity. But this may be the one time haranguing an artist turned out good, without incident. M.I.A.‘s “Bad Girls” feels like it happened eons ago and her fans felt some type of way about the lack of new music. It probably went down something like this: ‘No new music from M.I.A.? Fine. We’ll just bug her via Twitter until she’s forced to respond.’ Not a bad tactic after all, considering it worked. Read more…

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ALBUM REVIEW: Go! Pop! Bang! Is Rye Rye’s Energetic Ode To Baltimore

Rye Rye Boom Boom Video

When other high schoolers were sneaking on the phone at the wee hours of the morning to talk to their crush, Rye Rye was touring with M.I.A. After DJ Blaqstarr discovered the young rapper at the age of 15, they collaborated on “Shake It To The Ground,” a youthful dance track that caught the attention of M.I.A. only months later. Now, 21, the Baltimore, MD rapper has released her debut album Go! Pop! Bang! that was four years in the making. To appreciate Rye Rye’s music one must understand the oftentimes disparate state of her hometown. Then one must consider the city’s definitive musical sound unique to that place and its natives. The arts was a way for the young funky teen to express herself outside of the confines of the housing projects she grew up in. As much as Rye Rye is a rapper, she’s a dancer. And the latter inspires the sound of Go! Pop! Bang! more than the expected hardened environment she grew up in.

Her first single, “Boom Boom” (video below), is a perfect indication of what to expect from the album. It’s about partying, boys and having a bloody good time. The whole point is not to take herself too seriously. Over the video game beat, Rye Rye raps in her semi-fast, edgy tone about wanting a guy in her room. Tracks like “DNA” featuring Porcelain Black, “New Thing,” “Dance” and “Hardcore Girls” are where her Baltimore club influence is most dominant — a mix of house, D.C. go-go and techno-electro. On “Crazy Bitch,” she teamed up with Akon in a more concept driven track where the beat is slightly slower than the usual uptempo beat. With the help of Akon she pokes fun at being considered the “crazy bitch” in the relationship. “Sunshine” and “Bang” both feature M.I.A. and have the bombastic drum beat M.I.A. tends to love on her own tracks. Both records offer that distinctive voice that only an M.I.A. feature can add. Her rhymes in “Bang” slow the listener down from the natural inclination to dance to actually listen to her rhymes. “Never Will Be Mine” featuring Robyn is one of the slower tracks on the record but still manages to keep the light fun mood of the rest of the album. Read more…

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M.I.A. Lands New Gig As A Beer Bottle Designer, Says She Doesn’t Want To Be Known For Controversy

When she’s not riding on the side of flipped cars, M.I.A. is focused on creating artwork– the same artwork she designed for Beck’s beer bottles. Spin.com caught up with M.I.A. to chat about her new art endeavors and where she’s at with her highly anticipated fourth album. Since she flipped the bird in this year’s Super Bowl (where she performed with Madonna and Nicki Minaj), M.I.A. has been fairly lowkey. Before that she dropped an impromptu video for “Bad Girls,” but hasn’t followed up with another single from her forthcoming album Matangi. Until she satisfies our curiosity we’re happy to watch “Bad Girls” on repeat. Read more…