In 2018, collaborations were undoubtedly ruled by Cardi B. The rapper managed to not only drop some of the biggest singles of the year, she also partnered up for some of the biggest duets. Oh, and she birthed a human. Cardi B—killing it in 2018.
Of course, Cardi B wasn’t the only artist to partner up for some big musical moments this year. Christina and Demi got their diva on, Shawn Mendes and Khalid sang for the youth, and Zedd and Maren Morris continued to make country cool.
Check out the biggest and best collaborations of 2018.
Cardi B kicked off her year of collaborations by teaming up with Bruno Mars in January for the high energy throwback jam “Finesse.” Building the song around a back beat that could have easily been lifted from a Bell Biv DeVoe single, the accompanying video featured Mars, Cardi B, and a group of dancers doing their best impression of In Living Color, one of the greatest sketch shows to ever hit the small screen. Homie do play that way.
In May, Maroon 5 updated “Girls Like You” from their 2017 album Red Pill Blues with a new verse by Cardi B. This woman never sleeps. Using a lot of CGI and even more star power thanks to lead singer Adam Levine’s contact list, “Girls Like You” featured a laundry list of incredible women dancing, singing, and posing along with the new single. The video included a diverse and talented group of girls and women, including athletes, comedians, actors, singers, activists, models, and more.
It’s official—Cardi B was the hardest working artist in 2018. The Bronx rapper released “I Like It” in May, teaming up with Latin artist Bad Bunny and reggaeton musician J Balvin, who had a huge hit in 2017 with Beyoncé on “Mi Gente.” Looking to strike gold again, the men appeared on Cardi’s track, which was taken from the rapper’s debut record Invasion of Privacy. The feel-good single sampled Pete Rodriguez’s famous Latin hit “I Like It Like That (A Mi Me Gusta Asi),” with Cardi opening the song by listing all the things she likes in a man and in a diamond. Bad Bunny and J Balvin both provided verses in Spanish, with Cardi B joining the party during the chorus.
Shawn Mendes and Khalid are two of the biggest millennial artists in the world, so pairing up for a song about empowering today’s youth was a perfect match. Writing “Youth” for Mendes’ self-titled third studio album, which dropped in May, the pair channelled their pain over racism, sexism, the increase in gun violence in American schools, as well as the terrifying new immigration policy set forward by the Trump administration, to fuel their new single.
Mendes and Khalid performed the duet earlier this year at the Billboard Music Awards, where they were joined on stage by choir members of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and faculty members were killed by another student. Dropping a music video in November, Mendes and Khalid continued to promote their message of empowerment, enlisting the help of young people working to break down barriers in their own communities.
Nicki Minaj has a laundry list of collaborations, but her biggest to date may be thanks to her partnership with K-pop group BTS. The band’s album Love Yourself: Answer debuted at No. 1 on Billboard and was accompanied by what is possibly the most colourful music video we’ve ever seen. You may want your sunglasses for this.
Powerhouse pop vocalists Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato teamed up in 2018 for their call to action “Fall In Line,” which appeared on Aguilera’s tenth studio album Liberation. Earning a Grammy nomination for the duet, the pair showed off their acting chops for the dramatic and timely video. Opening with younger versions of Demi and Christina playing happily in a picturesque meadow, the video takes a dark turn when the little girls’ time of innocence is abruptly ended when uniformed guards take them to an underground bunker where they are held as prisoners until adulthood. Their only crime appears to be having been born women.
Dua Lipa enjoyed one of the biggest freshman years in music thanks to her huge breakout singles “New Rules” and “IDGAF,” following up her solo hits with a collaboration with producer Calvin Harris. The pair released their Euro-dance track “One Kiss” in April, later dropping a music video that has us dreaming of summer days and sitting poolside. The breezy, disco-inspired track is more dance heavy than we’re used to hearing from Lipa, showing her deep vocals and smooth delivery lends itself to a variety of genres.
Miley Cyrus is Mark Ronson’s latest muse, with the award-winning producer teaming up with Cyrus for his upcoming album, using the duo’s new track “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart” as the lead single. The song is layered with pop, country, and orchestral sounds, creating an urgent and foreboding texture that leaves the listener on edge. The music video also takes a dark look at its surroundings, with Cyrus driving a car through ominous settings, including priests ogling dancers in a strip club, children firing shots at a gun range, and people battling one another in a frenzy during a Black Friday sale. The subject matter is timely and serious and manages to side step the common issue of coming off preachy and insincere, but the video falls just short of being a slam dunk, with the car crashing through walls and rolling through a strip club giving off a more comical vibe than intended.
There’s no excuse to ever misspell the word ‘friends’ thanks to Marshemllo and Anne-Marie’s 2018 earworm. The track about not wanting to get romantic with a friend appeared on Anne-Marie’s debut album Speak Your Mind, with the two musicians performing the song at the 2018 iHeartRadio Much Music Video Awards.
Post Malone was one of the biggest artists of 2018, thanks in large part to his Ty Dolla $ign collaboration “Psycho.” Taken from Malone’s sophomore album Beerbongs and Bentleys, the duet debuted at No. 2 and eventually reached the top spot on the Billboard charts, helping to earn Post Malone a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.
In 2017, country and pop had a huge crossover hit with Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line with “Meant To Be.” In 2018, that honour went to producer Zedd and singer Maren Morris. Their earworm “The Middle” was everywhere this year, from TV shows to commercials, earning an impressive three Grammy nominations, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
Tour mates Migos and Drake decided to take their partnership to the studio this year for the Atlanta trio’s 2018 album Culture II. The foursome got into character for their video for “Walk It Talk It,” paying homage to Soul Train with their own version of the disco show titled Culture Ride. Migos and Drake enlisted Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx to appear as the show’s cool cat host Ron Delirious, a play on Soul Train’s actual host, Ron Cornelius. There’s extreme roller skating, white platform shoes, bell bottoms, and beautiful afros everywhere.