If there's one thing that defines the music industry, it's collaboration. From songwriters to producers to featured artists, there are countless ways that musicians can work together to create something that's greater than the sum of its parts. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of pop music, where the biggest hits often come from unexpected partnerships. Here are just a few of the most surprising pop collaborations that created chart-topping hits.
When Lady Gaga announced that she would be releasing a collaborative album with iconic jazz singer Tony Bennett, many fans were surprised. After all, Gaga was known for her electronic dance pop and Bennett was a legend of the crooning era. But the two artists found common ground in their love of classic songwriting and jazz music, and their album "Cheek to Cheek" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart.
In 2015, Justin Bieber was in the midst of a comeback. After a few years of controversy and negative press, he needed a hit to prove that he was still a bona fide pop star. Enter Jack Ü, the DJ duo comprised of Diplo and Skrillex. The two producers crafted an infectious dancehall-inspired beat for Bieber's "Where Are Ü Now," and the resulting track became one of the biggest smashes of the year.
Beyoncé is no stranger to collaborations, but her 2016 album "Lemonade" featured one of her most unexpected yet. "Don't Hurt Yourself" features Jack White of The White Stripes, delivering a raw, bluesy guitar riff that adds a whole new dimension to Beyoncé's powerhouse vocals. The resulting song is one of the most intense and unforgettable tracks of Beyoncé's career.
"Bad Blood" was already a hit for Taylor Swift, but when she announced that she was releasing a remix featuring Kendrick Lamar, fans were intrigued. Lamar's verse adds a political edge to the song's lyrics, and his appearance helped Taylor Swift earn her first ever #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
When Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars teamed up for "Uptown Funk" in 2014, few could have predicted just how massive the song would become. With its retro-inspired production, catchy hook, and Bruno Mars's electrifying vocals, the track spent 14 consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100.
"Sing" was already a hit for Ed Sheeran when he enlisted Pharrell Williams to produce a remix. Williams added his own signature funk sound to the track, resulting in a new version that was even catchier than the original. The remix helped "Sing" climb even higher on the charts and cemented Sheeran's status as a pop superstar.
"Problem" was the lead single from Ariana Grande's second album, and it got a boost from featured artist Iggy Azalea. Azalea's guest verse adds a dose of attitude to the already infectious track, and "Problem" spent several weeks atop the charts in 2014.
Calvin Harris had already established himself as one of the top DJs in the world when he teamed up with Rihanna for "We Found Love." The track is a perfect example of their shared love of dance music, and its euphoric chorus helped it become one of the biggest hits of 2011.
Sia's "Cheap Thrills" was an instant party anthem, but it got a boost when Sean Paul added his own verse to a remix of the track. Paul's dancehall-inspired delivery adds an extra layer of energy to the already upbeat song, and "Cheap Thrills" became one of the biggest hits of 2016.
Drake's "One Dance" was already a massive hit, but it was the addition of Kyla's verse that helped it become one of the biggest songs of all time. The song's infectious beat is heavily influenced by African music, and Kyla's guest appearance adds a touch of sweetness to Drake's smooth vocals.
These are just a few examples of the surprising pop collaborations that have resulted in memorable chart-toppers. Whether it's jazz and pop, funk and folk, or dance and R&B, the best music often comes from unexpected partnerships. So keep your ears open for the next unexpected hit!