U2’s latest album, Songs of Experience, includes not just one but two tracks on which Kendrick Lamar is featured. In both tracks, “Get Out of Your Own Way” and “American Soul,” Kendrick delivers several speech-like verses that echo the lines recited in his own recent track, “XXX.”
U2 and Kendrick Lamar are something of a musical odd couple. In the past, the Irish band has worked with pop singers like Lykke Li and Lamar has teamed up with hip-hop and R&B artists like Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, and Rapsody, but neither U2 nor Lamar made much of an effort to collaborate with musicians outside of their respective musical “orbits” before 2017.
And from Katy Perry and Nicki Minjaj’s “Swish Swish” (which reached #13 on Canada’s Hot 100) to “I’m the One” featuring DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, and Lil Wayne (which reached #1 on Canada’s Hot 100), 2017 was a big year for hip-hip/pop-rock collaborations as a whole. As genre lines become increasingly blurred, it’s less of a shock to see pop and rock artists work with hip-hop artists in 2017 than it was back in 1986, when Run-DMC and Aerosmith recorded their historic remake of “Walk This Way.” With that being said, it isn’t any less exciting to see one of the most renowned hip-hop acts in the world join forces with one of the most renowned pop acts in the world today than it was in the ‘80s. So before 2017 officially comes to a close, let’s take a look at some of the most noteworthy hip-hop/pop-rock collabs of the year.
“Cold” is a perfect example of what happens when a song and its music video are so closely intertwined that they become inseparable. Future chimes in for just one verse of the catchy Maroon 5 tune, but the entire “Cold” music video revolves around Adam Levine attending a party to talk to Future about that very verse. Unfortunately the party goes awry when a bartender slips something into Levine’s drink and he starts hallucinating floating cars, people wearing animal heads, and an underwater wedding. But Levine’s pain is our pleasure, as the trippy, attention-grabbing visuals help make “Cold” one of Maroon 5’s most memorable singles to date.
According to one insightful Genius contributor, Skylar Grey is supposed be represent Macklemore’s “inner voice” when she comes in during the chorus of his 2017 hit “Glorious.” We’re not 100% sure that’s true, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it were—Grey’s melodic voice is the perfect fit for a song about renewal and gaining newfound confidence. Macklemore and Grey both helped write the song, and their clever lyrics take on a whole new meaning when paired with the epic “Glorious” music video, in which Macklemore helps his grandmother celebrate her 100th birthday in style.
Lana Del Rey’s songs are often described as being slow, melodic, and dreamy. “Summer Bummer” is no exception, but on this track she has A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti backing her up. Surprisingly, both rappers’ slow-paced verses blend in nicely with the rest of the track. And Carti’s mumble-y delivery, which some have criticized, sounds completely natural when paired with Del Rey’s languid, lyrical vocals.
At first we weren’t sure whether or not to include this track—though Gorillaz songs certainly contain elements of hip-hop, their music has been categorized under almost every genre imaginable. In the end, we agreed that “We Got the Power” is a strong enough song to warrant a spot on the list, regardless of genre. The track, which features Savage vocalist Jehnny Beth (and backing vocals from D.R.A.M. and Noel Gallagher) is an upbeat, optimistic anthem about spreading love and establishing a sense of agency. It’s inspiring, fun, and super-catchy. What more could you possibly ask for?
Sometimes you need to say goodbye to your demons, sometimes you need to say goodbye to your past self, and sometimes you just need to say goodbye to your haters. Linkin Park, Pusha T, and Stormzy cover all that and more in “Good Goodbye,” a rap-rock track off of Linkin Park’s 2017 album One More Light. Linkin Park’s are relevant and relatable, as per usual, but British hip-hop artist Stormzy steals the show with his verse about success being the best revenge. Stormzy delivers the verse with a self-assured bitterness that reminds us how cathartic saying good riddance can feel.
“Lie” is a quintessential call-and-response song. In the first half of the song, Halsey calls out her partner for not loving her anymore and says she’d prefer that he lie about his feelings than break up with her. In the second half of the song, Migos’ Quavo cheekily responds to her accusations. Halsey’s voice is especially haunting in this track, fitting for a narrator who’s clearly very upset with her boyfriend. Quavo also plays the part of defensive lover to a T, making this a song we couldn’t help but add to our list.
Both “1-800-273-8255” and its music video are deeply moving pieces of art that explore what it means to persevere and triumph in the face of adversity. The video, which follows a young gay man who is outed and contemplates committing suicide, emphasizes the importance of seeking support during times of struggle. Adding Alessia Cara and Khalid to the track helped drive home that message, and the fact that calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline increased after Logic released the song proves the message is resonating with a lot of listeners. The positive impact the song has made plus the fact that it’s nominated for multiple Grammys made it a shoo-in for this list.