As genre boundaries have blurred, artists have been given much greater freedom to exercise their creative muscles by working on new and exciting side projects and collaborations. And due to this we're seeing far fewer band breakups and feuds as members are now viewing their creative partnerships as 'open relationships'. A few artists seem to have a knack for these promiscuous partnerships as their names appear in the 'featuring' parenthetical far more frequently than others. Here are the 10 best...
Working with and producing for big-named artists such as The Black Keys and Jack White, as well as songwriters like the late Sparklehorse and Helena Costas, Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) has been featured on more albums and tracks than he is old. Noted specifically for his Midas-like pop/soul/RnB touch, Burton's production style has also been compared to the direction of films. His ability to put a distinct signature on his contributions is one of the reasons he is more thought of as a collaborator than a producer. Check out one of the tracks featuring Julian Casablancas from Dark Night of the Soul
, the album he and Sparklehorse produced and wrote together:
Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse feat. Julian Casablancas - Little Girl (Music Video) from m. ilker demiral on Vimeo.
Zach Hill is best known for his work in the math-rock band Hella, as well as the controversial death rap duo Death Grips. His drumming style can't be missed, mostly because of the extremely assaulting speed he displays on the kick drum as well as the odd tunings he uses for his snare and toms. Hill has put out a couple of solo records and also put in work for various other artists including Marnie Stern and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (formally) of The Mars Volta. Check out one of Marnie Stern's tracks below, a perfect example of Hill's ecstatic drumming style.
Red Hot Chili Peppers' legendary bassist Flea is everywhere in the music world. He boasts collaborations with Patti Smith, Tom Waits, and most excitingly with Thom Yorke in their super-group Atoms for Peace. Maybe one of the most famous bassists out there, his style incorporates elements of funk and jazz, giving his rock and roll collaborations an unmistakable and unique flare. Hear one of the Flea-featured tracks off Tom Waits' Bad As Me
Amber Coffman is best known for her work with harmonizing master David Longstreth in The Dirty Projectors, but she also has a few interesting collaborations on her resume. She recorded a track with dubstep arists Rusko in 2010, as well as the hit song "Get Free" with Major Lazor the following year, and a track with J. Cole the year after that. She's also worked with a couple of names on this list including David Byrne and The Roots. Coffman's beautifully soothing vocals stand out with a special kind of casualness that is hardly matched by most other singers. Check out the intro song from The Roots album How I Got Over
The man behind the virtual band Gorillaz and Britpop idols Blur has a hefty set of work with various artists ranging from a collaboration with Paul Simonon (The Clash) called The Good, the Bad and the Queen, as well as funk supergroup Rocket Juice and the Moon with Chili Peppers bassist Flea and afrodub drummer Tony Allen (who appears on both records). Albarn is definitely a genre-crossing madman when it comes to his music, incorporating electronic elements with those of folk and pop. Check out a piece from The Good, the Bad and the Queen below:
Ahmir Questlove Thompson
Questlove has become a legend in the contemporary jazz scene as well as rock and hip hop, and through his countless collaborations he's seamlessly crossed other genre boundaries. Co-founder of funk/neo-soul group The Roots (house band for Jimmy Fallon), Questlove has collaborated with an intimidating amount of artists and musicians including Fiona Apple, D'Angelo, Macy Gray, Erykah Badu, Elvis Costello, Common...you name it. Notable for his tight snare and slightly out-of-pocket style, any track he's featured on contains a funky and rhythmically unique twist. Check out this grouping of Questlove, tUnE-yArDs, Angelique Kidjo, and Akua Naru.
Talking Heads frontman David Byrne has been in the game for multiple decades now, collaborating with artists like Brian Eno, The Dirty Projectors, and most recently St. Vincent. He also boasts an extensive resume of soundtracks for films and theater. With a voice that echoes the 80s, Byrne's vocals are virtually unmistakable as he howls and screeches, often about alienation and identity. David Byrne is a pop legend whose music stretches Latin-American and African influence, yet he never seems to stop broadening his musical inspirations. Check out one of the tracks from Dave Sitek's (TV on the Radio) solo project entitled Maximum Balloon, featuring Byrne as a writer and singer.
Singer/songwriter Neko Case boasts an extensive solo career in addition to being a member of the excellent folk-rock band The New Pornographers. Her collaborations extend from work with Andrew Bird, The Dodos, and Nick Cave. She has a voice like butter that flows magnificently with any artist with whom she's paired. Check out a track from one of her first bands with songwriter Carolyn Mark called The Corn Sisters:
Experimental artist and frontman for the psychedelic rock group Flaming Lips, Wayne Coyne has made a name for himself as being one bizarre bird. Coyne has also contributed to songs for The Chemical Brothers, Sparklehorse, and Kesha (didn't expect that one, did you?). He is highly influenced by space and all things intoxicating. Listen to a track he worked with Kesha on her recent album, Warrior
Sonic Youth lead singer/bassist and experimental artist and designer, Kim Gordon has provided prominent influence for the indie rock community as well as the avant-garde art world. She has collaborated with Courtney Love (produced the Hole's Pretty on the Inside
), as well as an experimental album with Yoko Ono and former husband and co-founder of Sonic youth, Thurston Moore. She was and still is a major feminist influence; it was not an easy task to confront the male-dominated music scene during the 80s and 90s. Check out one of the very avant-garde piaces performed live from her collaboration with Ono and Moore: