The World's 10 Finest Superstar Musical Collaborations
Well, folks, it appears we're getting a Superman/Batman movie whether we like it or not. Comics fanboy and Frank Miller obsessive Zack Snyder broke the news a couple weeks back at San Diego Comic-Con that his big-budget sequel to Man of Steel will find a way to shoehorn in the Dark Knight. A much more natural fit for the director's grim 'n gritty sensibilities, perhaps, but given Snyder's middling track record, you'll understand our ambivalence toward this grand plan to make all of the world's money.
Don't F this up, Snyder.
Still, the idea's got potential. DC Comics has published more than a few intriguing tales pairing its two biggest icons up over the last 80 years or so, and if nothing else, Snyder has proven that he doesn't mind hewing close to comics canon - provided the tales are violent enough, of course. But even if the forthcoming film gets everything wrong, we'll still probably be checking it out. There's just something irresistible about watching the best of the best team up.
That's as true in the music world as it is in the DC Universe. For every Metallica/Lou Reed clusterfuck, there's a shining example of what the industry's top stars can create when they're able to feed off one another's creativity. To remind ourselves just how good a super-powered team-up can be, what do you say we revisit 10 of the world's finest superstar musical collaborations?
To the Pressmobile!
10. Run-DMC and Aerosmith
In 1986, rap stars Run DMC were ready to cross over into the mainstream, and producer Rick Rubin had an idea on how white fans might be convinced that this "rap" stuff wasn't so different from rock. After hearing the duo rap over the drum break at the beginning of Aerosmith's moldy hit "Walk This Way," Rubin asked the group to cover the song, rapping the original lyrics.
Despite their reservations regarding the idea's inherent wackness, Run and DMC were finally convinced by Russell Simmons, and Rubin brought in Steven Tyler and Joe Perry to recreate the song's chorus. The result was a supersonic megahit, blasting Run DMC (and rap) into the pop stratosphere and resurrecting Aerosmith from the hard-rock trash heap.
9. Temple of the Dog
Temple of the Dog was intended as a musical tribute from Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell to his friend Andrew Wood, the Mother Love Bone front man who died of a heroin overdose in 1990. After writing a few songs, Cornell tabbed Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron and Wood's ex-bandmates, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, to bring the tunes to life. At the time, Gossard and Ament were working on new music with newcomers Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder, who were invited along to the studio.
The makeshift group recorded enough songs for an album -- which, despite being awesome, was released and forgotten in 1991. It wasn't until a year later, when Soundgarden and a new band called Pearl Jam blew up on MTV, that A&M Records realized what they had: a collaboration between two of the hottest bands in the world. The record was reissued and "Hunger Strike" was released as a single with a music video. The album's all-around excellence was noticed at last, and Temple of the Dog went platinum.
Conceived in MTV's dying days as a music-video channel, Gorillaz was born as a commentary by Blur's Damon Albarn and comic creator Jamie Hewlett on the artificial, cartoonish nature of pop music in the late '90s. The fictional, animated band became stars thanks to Hewlett's striking character designs and the superheroic teaming of Albarn with underground hip-hop barnstormer Del The Funky Homosapien and producer Dan the Automator. Together, the trio came up with a hit in "Clint Eastwood," the group's first single, which made them international superstars.
More musical mashups of rock, hip-hop and electronic pop were to come, featuring a rotating cast of musicians swirling around Albarn. Today, the toon celebrities are on indefinite hiatus while Hewlett and Albarn work on separate projects.