Incredible Superstar Duets That Came Tantalizingly Close To Happening (And The Tragic Reasons They Didn’t)

What would music look like if we had a Madonna X Michael Jackson song?

Mariah Carey and Miguel. Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea. Justin Timberlake and Timbaland. We know what these collaborations sound like because, simply put, they were released. But imagine that they weren’t.

Lady Gaga and Azealia Banks once collaborated on two songs, “Red Flame” and “Ratchet.” If I had to guess, I’d imagine either song sounded like this mashup of “Born This Way” and “212.” Fun, edgy, and stimulating. What else could a Gaga X Rapunzel song sound like? Some mix of “Bad Romance” and “Ice Princess”?

That’s the thing about collaborations that never make it out. You just don’t know. Here are some other superstar duets that almost came to be, but for whatever reason, someone pulled the plug.

  • 1 Madonna and Michael Jackson
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    “In The Closet” from Michael Jackson’s 1991 LP Dangerous was originally slated to be a duet with Madonna. Madge opened up about the experience of working with MJ on the song in 1992, saying that she was surprised that he wanted to name it “In The Closet” without fully exploring the sexual innuendos of the title. Madge said that she gave MJ some ideas, but he ultimately passed.

  • 2 Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande
    Good friends Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande hinted via Instagram at making new music together last year, but a collaboration never surfaced. “We were going to do it, but then we both got busy,” Ari told AP last year. “We feel like we owe it to our fans to do something one day. We will finish it and put it out one day, but it just wasn’t the right time.”

  • 3 Prince and Michael Jackson
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    Michael Jackson and Prince were once meant to collaborate on MJ’s “Bad.” The decision not to came about because of the song’s lyrics. The opening line is “Your butt is mine,” and as Prince told Chris Rock in an interview, he didn’t want to sing that to MJ, and he didn’t want MJ singing that to him.

  • 4 Mariah Carey and Justin Timberlake
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    When Justin Timberlake was on the verge of officially launching his solo career via Justified, he and Mariah Carey were working on a song. They each recorded their respective parts separately, according to EW, but the song, “Yours,” ended up on Mimi’s Charmbracelet album sans JT.

  • 5 Lady Gaga and Azealia Banks
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    Lady Gaga and Azealia Banks were thought to be working together back in 2012. Azealia confirmed the rumors when she said in an interview that she had two songs with Gaga called “Red Flame” and “Ratchet.” Azealia said that Gaga would release the songs when she wanted to release them, but we have yet to hear either.

  • 6 Lady Gaga and Britney Spears
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    US Weekly reported last year that Lady Gaga and Britney Spears were working on a collaboration. “It’ll happen soon,” a source told the publication. US reports that Britney said in a fan Q&A on Twitter that she would want to work with Gaga, who replied, “Let’s do this bitch, it’s time.” The collaboration could still be in the works, though there hasn’t been a peep about it since.

  • 7 Mariah Carey and Lauryn Hill
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    Mariah Carey and Lauryn Hill once had a collaborative track in the works called “Crystal Ball.” According to Mimi, there was a lack of communication between camps. “If you’re not careful, the media can come between a collaboration, especially when you have two incredibly public icons collaborating such as her and myself. I still have faith in the song and in the idea that both her and I can make it happen.”

1/2 Cartoon, 1/2 Beyhive.