By Frank Donovan
We still can’t get over the pleasant surprise of “FourFiveSeconds.” The collaboration of Paul McCartney, Kanye West, and Rihanna is catchy, understated, and doesn’t sound like every other hit. It got us thinking–not as much can be said for a lot of musical combinations over the years.
Time and time again the most exciting and unexpected partnerships either fall flat or are aggressively bad. It could be too much ego in one room, or perhaps the whole thing is a thinly-veiled publicity stunt, doomed to fizzle out. Sometimes completely disparate genres and voices just don’t mesh and result in something less than the sum of its parts. We hate to throw shade at talents like Beyonce, Madonna, and Justin Timberlake, but when they set the bar so high and don’t deliver, we end up with forgettable songs that don’t do them justice. Check out our 15 nominees for the most disappointing musical mega-duets in history, and be sure to cast your vote in the poll below!
“Love Song” by Madonna and Prince (1989)
The two briefly dated in 1985, and have publicly dissed each other back and forth for years. Let’s just say this song from Madonna’s iconic album Like a Prayer is emblematic of their dysfunctional relationship.
“Until the End of Time” by Justin Timberlake and Beyonce (2007)
This was originally a solo song from JT’s 2006 album FutureSex/LoveSounds, but it was re-released the following year with additional vocals by Bey. These two powerhouses should’ve come up with something better, we say.
“Can’t Remember to Forget You” by Shakira Ft. Rihanna (2014)
Something about remembering to forget this song.
“Me Against the Music” by Britney Spears Ft. Madonna (2003)
The lead single on Britney’s In the Zone was originally a solo Brit track, but she played song for Madonna during rehearsals for the 2003 VMAs (the one where they kissed), and the two decided to make it a duet. Like the kiss, the whole collaboration feels like an inauthentic stunt.
“Booty” by Jennifer Lopez Ft. Iggy Azalea (2014)
This song is an embarrassingly desperate call for attention, no offense.
“Back to Black” by Beyonce and Andre 3000 (2013)
We like Bey and Andre’s individual verses of the Amy Winehouse song, covered for The Great Gatsby soundtrack. But together, it’s an incohesive downgrade from the original.
“Cheat on Me” by Lou Reed and Metallica (2011)
This entry really goes to the entire Lou Reed and Metallica album Lulu. His spoken word over the band’s shredding was a bemusing idea for an experiment that ultimately doesn’t work. In fact, it put fans into a tailspin–Reed reportedly received death threats.
“A Friend Like You” by Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney (2004)
We had high hopes for the union of these songwriting prodigies. It’s not so much the music that’s the problem, but the lyrics are a little sing-along-core.
“Dancing in the Street” by Mick Jagger and David Bowie (1985)
We don’t want to rain on a charity parade–these two recorded this Martha and the Vandellas track for Live Aid–but we can’t escape the feeling that despite the high energy, the duo is phoning it in.
“Off That” by Jay Z Ft Drake
There are some great collaborations on The Blueprint 3, like “Empire State of Mind” with Alicia Keys and “Young Forever” with Mr. Hudson, but this track is forgettable and could be improved by a Drake verse. Timbaland agrees.
“The Girl is Mine” by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney (1982)
Somehow this was the lead single from Thriller. Instead of competing for the fancy of an anonymous woman, we would’ve been interested in a higher energy musical feud over the Beatles catalog.
“Number One” by Pharrell Williams Ft Kanye West (2006)
These two hit masters have no excuse for making such a forgettable song.
“Up Out My Face” by Mariah Carey Ft Nicki Minaj (2010)
This pales in comparison to the 11(!) other singles that featured Nicki Minaj in 2010. It was originally slated to be the lead release off Mariah’s cancelled remix album Angels Advocate.
“Can’t Stop Partying” by Weezer Ft Lil’ Wayne (2009)
Sure, it’s kind of funny. But that doesn’t mean we’d ever voluntarily listen to it.
“Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1981)
It’s the only track from Stevie Nicks’ solo debut Bella Donna that she had no hand in writing. It’s so unmemorable, listening on repeat won’t help you recall the melody.
[Photo: Jive Records/Getty Images]