The Odd Couples: Rock's Most Curious Collaborations

The news that Tommy Lee is recording drums for the new Smashing Pumpkins album Monuments To An Elegy sent 'WTF?' shrieks resounding through TeamRock HQ. The mind boggles as to what Billy Corgan and Lee might find to talk about between takes. In honour of this momentous happening then, we thought we might revisit some of the most bizarre collaborations in recent rock history.

Sum 41 vs Kerry King

When Kerry King popped up in the video for Beastie Boys’ No Sleep To Brooklyn it was a knowing and smart call by Rick Rubin, a signifier that for all the stylistic, sartorial and ethical distinctions between the two artists, there existed a street-level bond in terms of attitude and aggression between hip-hop and metal. When the Slayer guitarist appeared in Sum 41’s video for What We’re All About it was a cheeky post-modern nod back to that iconic promo clip…and an utter embarrassment. To give King his due, he wasn’t shy about facing down his critics. “If you wanna call me a sell-out, call me a sell-out,” he snarled, ‘but I’m still in Slayer, ripping people’s faces off.” Fair point fella, fair point.

Weezer vs Kenny G

Geek-rock kings Weezer are rarely afraid to straddle the line between ‘ironic’ and ‘stupid’, but this is a bridge too far. Bad enough that the song features lyric celebrating a man in his 40s sleazing over a barely legal teenager, but the addition of Kenny G looking like Rowlf from The Muppets on ‘dress down Friday’ parping over the top is just nauseating. Down with this kind of thing.

The Hives vs Cyndi Lauper

In the spirit of goodwill, we’re going to concede that this pairing of the sharp dressed Swedish punks and ‘80s pop queen Lauper works rather well, with Ms Cyndi’s raucous vocals a rather neat counter-point to Howlin’ Pelle’s more tongue-in-cheek delivery on this rocking, rolling Yuletide belter. Think of it as a less heartbreaking take on Fairytale of New York. But still, what conversation led to this curio existing in the first place?

Ozzy vs Miss Piggy

Oh dear. How to explain this one to future generations? Quite what someone was thinking – and by ‘someone’, we mean Sharon, obviously – in authorising this collaboration between the Prince Of Darkness and the Porcine Princess is unclear, unless one wishes to argue that the educational development of pre-school kids is greatly enhanced by prolonged exposure to hammy takes on rock standards. Anyone want to have a go at that?

Metallica vs Lou Reed

Oh, you know about this one already, do you? Well, er, let’s just sit back in quiet contemplation and marvel at this clash of the titans once again, shall we?

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.