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2019 is already looking like the year of pop’s most interesting collaborations. In the short span of four months, we’ve already gotten collabs from 5 Seconds of Summer and The Chainsmokers, Lauv and Troye Sivan, Katy Perry, Zedd and Daddy Yankee, Drax Project and Hailee Steinfeld, not to mention the four collaborations Julia Michaels has done with LANY, James Bay, Selena Gomez, and Niall Horan.
But 2019 is also seeing more unusual collaborations. Not just with artists from different genres joining forces, but with the songs themselves overlapping multiple styles of music. With the latest releases by Madonna and Mark Ronson joining the genre-bending trend, here’s a look at the year’s five most unexpected collaborations.
Off her upcoming album Madame X, set to release June 14, “Medellín” is a seamless blending of The Material Girl’s sound we all know and the Latin stylings of Colombian artist Maluma. Despite the number of recent pop/Latin collaborations, this one sets itself apart from the rest. Instead of the dance-ready beats we’re used to thanks to monster hits like “Taki Taki” and “Despacito,” Madonna’s approach to “Medellín” is slower and more sultry. Its unique sound has us wondering what the rest of the new album will sound like, with the tracklist including features from Quavo, Swae Lee, Anitta, and another Maluma collab. The two brought the new single to the Billboard Music Awards’ stage for the song’s worldwide television premiere performance, which you can watch in full now over at CTV.ca.
Currently No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, this remix of the country-trap crossover was born after the original was taken off the Hot Country Songs chart. Billy Ray Cyrus had posted his support following its removal before lending his vocals to the remix. What makes the collaboration so unusual isn’t just that a country and hip hop artist teamed up (did you forget that this happened?)—but that a ’90s country icon joined forces a 20-year-old hip hop artist who got his start on TikTok. Regardless of your opinion of the track, this collab is definitely one of the year’s most memorable.
You might be thinking this collab isn’t unique given how many unique artists Mark Ronson has worked with. But Ronson’s latest pop endeavours found him collabing with huge superstars like Dua Lipa and Miley Cyrus. His most recent release matches the singer-songwriter-producer with indie darling Lykke Li. The Swedish songstress isn’t your typical pop princess, as her sound is considered electo-, art- and dream-pop inspired. With a retro disco feel to both the song and the music video, “Late Night Feelings” is a stark contrast to the country-tinged “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart.”
K-pop is currently having a major moment in North America, largely thanks to one band in particular—BTS. Last month, the seven-member boy band released “Boy With Luv” along with the music video, both featuring Halsey. While the artists have been friends for a while, the duet might seem unexpected since BTS’ previous collaborations with Western artists have been rap- and EDM-focused. Both BTS and Halsey deviate from their usual sound on bright and bubbly pop jam (Halsey even sings a few bars in Korean!) which acts as the band’s lead single from their latest release, Map Of The Soul: Persona. They performed the track for the first time together at this week’s Billboard Music Awards. Watch the full show now here.
Khalid joined forces with country star Kane Brown to remix of the final track from Free Spirit. The track doesn’t sound quite country, but it also doesn’t sound quite R&B or soul. It’s a perfect melding of the two genres, and the harmonies between the two elevate the emotion of the song. This collab comes shortly after Khalid teamed up with John Mayer on another Free Spirit track, “Outta My Head,” showing he isn’t afraid to blur the lines of musical genres—or erase them all together.