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The year 2013 may have introduced infectious summer hits like Daft Punk‘s “Get Lucky” and Robin Thicke‘s “Blurred Lines,” but 2014 spotlighted collaborative tracks by some of the most unlikely artist pairings to date (who knew will.i.am could get a late-night host to chart on Billboard?). From a posthumous release to a bilingual rap record, The Hollywood Reporter rounds up 10 of the year’s most surprising and memorable duets.
1. “Hangover” by Psy, featuring Snoop Dogg
Korean sensation Psy partnered with rapper Snoop Dogg for his third international single, “Hangover” (following 2012’s “Gangnam Style” and 2013’s “Gentlemen”), which marked his first time collaborating with an American artist. The music video for the Korean-English track made its world debut June 8 on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Currently, the K-pop star’s viral hit “Gangnam Style” holds the record for the most-viewed YouTube video of all time, having garnered more than 2 billion views over the course of two years.
2. “Flawless (Remix)” by Beyonce, featuring Nicki Minaj
Two of music’s female powerhouses joined forces for a remix of Beyonce‘s single “Flawless,” originally from her self-titled visual album Beyonce (which took the industry by storm when it dropped on iTunes with no prior announcement in December 2013). Though the original single stirred controversy for its feminist themes, the remix version garnered attention for Beyonce’s reference to the elevator scuffle that occurred between Jay Z and sister Solange earlier this year.
3. “Sing” by Ed Sheeran, featuring Pharrell Williams
The lead single off of the singer-songwriter’s Grammy-nominated album x, “Sing” was penned by both Sheeran and Williams and produced by Williams. The “Happy” singer, who worked with artists such as Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus on his own album Girl, also contributed background vocals to the track (though uncredited).
Read more Todd McCarthy’s 10 Best Films of 2014
4. “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson, featuring Bruno Mars
Co-written and produced by English musician Mark Ronson, the ’80s-inspired funk song features vocals by Mars and is the first released single from Ronson’s upcoming fourth album, Uptown Special. Mars had previously worked with the Grammy-winning music producer on his own 2012 album, Unorthodox Jukebox, for tracks “Moonshine,” “Gorilla” and the chart-topping hit “Locked Out of Heaven.”
5. “Bang Bang” by Jessie J, featuring Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj
The female trio brought back a powerful pop collaboration reminiscent of 2004’s “Lady Marmalade,” performed by Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Pink, with this uptempo anthem from Jessie J‘s third album, Sweet Talker, and the deluxe edition of Grande’s album My Everything. “Bang Bang,” which debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, is in the running for the best pop duo/group performance Grammy.
6. “Love Never Felt So Good” by Michael Jackson, featuring Justin Timberlake
Timberlake fulfilled his dream of working with the King of Pop when he lent his vocals for a duet version of “Love Never Felt So Good,” one of eight previously unreleased tracks from Jackson’s second posthumous album Xscape. The music video (which Timberlake also appears in) pays homage to the music legend with clips of his past music videos and scenes of dancers following along to his most iconic dance moves.
Read more The Best Television of 2014
7. “Can’t Remember to Forget You” by Shakira, featuring Rihanna
The Colombian singer enlisted the help of Rihanna for the lead single off of her 10th album, Shakira, which also features collaborations with Magic! and fellow Voice coach Blake Shelton. Rihanna’s appearance on the reggae, pop and rock-blended track comes just months after the artist’s accompanying vocals in Eminem‘s hit “The Monster” dominated radio play.
8. “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea, featuring Charli XCX
In this year alone, Australian rapper Iggy Azalea has teamed with the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Rita Ora, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Ellie Goulding and mentor T.I., but it was her collaboration with Charli XCX that brought her debut studio album The New Classic to new heights. “Fancy” peaked at No. 1 on Billboard and is Grammy-nominated for record of the year and best pop duo/group performance. Azalea is also in the running for best new artist and best rap record.
9. “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry, featuring Juicy J
Though Perry’s fourth studio album, Prism containing “Dark Horse,” was released in October 2013, the music video for the trap-infused track premiered earlier this year. Since then, it has earned the title of YouTube’s most viewed music video of the year with more than 700 million views, and the single itself placed second on Billboard’s year end ranking for 2014. The song is also vying for a Grammy for best pop duo/group performance.
10. “Ew!” by Jimmy Fallon featuring will.i.am
The late night host and the Black Eyed Peas frontman put a musical spin on The Tonight Show‘s comedy sketch “Ew!” for a collaborative single that debuted at No. 26 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The song and its accompanying music video feature Fallon and will.i.am as their alter egos, headband-rocking teenage girls Sara and mir.i.am. Fallon expressed his excitement about the song’s unexpected success on Billboard’s charts during a November taping of The Tonight Show saying, “That was the biggest thing that is ever going to happen to me … ever!”
THR’s Complete Look Back at 2014
The Highest-Rated Broadcast Series of 2014 — and How People Watched Them
Hollywood’s Top 10 Legal Disputes of 2014
The Best New York Theater of 2014
The Most Viewed Trailers of 2014
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