15 Music Icons That Joined Forces to Create Hit Songs

Many memorable collaborations have occurred across music history. Some of these combinations include some of the best musicians from all generations. We may not always like the songs they produce, but when two great artists combine, a hit song is guaranteed.

1. David Bowie and Mick Jagger: “Dancing in the Street”

David Bowie and Mick Jagger
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Two old friends came together to produce this 1985 hit. A cover of an original song written by Marvin Gaye, “Dancing in the Street,” raised money for the Live Aid project. The track is memorable for Mick Jagger and David Bowie’s contrasting vocal styles and has an upbeat video.

2. Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder: “Ebony and Ivory”

Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
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A former Beatle and one of the world’s best soul singers combined to produce one of the biggest hits of the 1980s. The track appears on McCartney’s third solo album, Tug of War. It’s a song about racial harmony, referencing the black and white keys on a piano. Wonder’s and McCartney’s voices combine beautifully, and “Ebony and Ivory” reached number one in the UK and the U.S.

3. U2 and Green Day: “The Saints Are Coming”

U2 and Green Day
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These iconic bands came together to cover an original song by Scottish post-punk band Skids. “The Saints are Coming” is anthemic, and it was always a favorite at Skids gigs in the 70s and 80s. U2 and Green Day produced the cover to raise money for New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. They stayed faithful to the original track, and the song was a hit in 10 countries worldwide.

4. Bryan Adams and Tina Turner: “It’s Only Love”

Bryan Adams and Tina Turner
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Both artists were at their peak in 1985, so Bryan Adams and Tina Turner’s collaboration was a big deal. “It’s Only Love” appears on Adams’ Reckless album and features two strong vocal performances. The track appeared as a single, reaching the Top 10 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock charts.

5. Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran: “Everything Has Changed”

Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran
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Taylor Swift combines with many musicians, and picking the best duo is hard. Her collaboration with Ed Sheeran is memorable, partly because some fans hoped the two would become a couple. The song title, “Everything Has Changed,” may have explained where their friendship was heading.

6. The Traveling Wilburys: “Handle With Care”

Traveling Wilburys
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Supergroups rarely work in the music business. The clash of egos may hold the band back, but the Traveling Wilburys were a notable exception. The group featured Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, and Jeff Lynne. They were all superstars, but the band sounded like friends jamming together. I’ve picked “Handle With Care” as their best track, but you should enjoy the Traveling Wilburys’ entire catalog.

7. Gene Pitney and Marc Almond: “Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart”

Gene Pitney and Marc Almond
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Most would overlook this track, but this is a stunning collaboration. The two singers joined forces to cover one of Pitney’s songs from 1967, and their vocals worked together superbly. Their styles were different, but Almond and Pitney gelled perfectly, and this version deservedly reached number one in the UK singles chart in January 1989.

8. Run-DMC and Aerosmith: “Walk This Way”

Run-DMC and Aerosmith
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It was an unlikely combination: A hip-hop group from Queens alongside one of the world’s most established rock bands. “Walk This Way” was a favorite at Aerosmith concerts, and Run-DMC gave it a twist. With Steven Tyler belting out the chorus in his unmistakable style, the artists found a massive, if unlikely, hit single.

9. Eminem and Rihanna: “Love the Way You Lie”

Eminem and Rihanna
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It’s another unlikely pairing, but it scored one of the biggest hits on this list. Rapper Eminem and soul star Rihanna came together in 2010 to release “Love the Way You Lie,” a song that balanced their immense talents. The two artists were at their respective peaks, and it’s no surprise this track spent seven weeks at the top of the Billboard charts.

10. Elton John and George Michael: “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me”

Elton John and George Michael
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Elton John originally released this song in 1974. It was a minor hit in the UK, reaching number 16 on the charts, but this 1991 cover did much better. Joined on stage by George Michael in this live version, the duo’s vocals harmonized perfectly. The second time, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” reached number one in the UK and the U.S.

11. Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson: “Say Say Say”

Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson
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Many great artists have appeared on this list, but Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson are the biggest stars. The two combined to produce “Say Say Say,” which appeared on McCartney’s 1983 album Pipes of Peace. Some like it and some don’t, but a hit record is guaranteed when two superstars come together. “Say Say Say” went to number one in the U.S. and many other countries around the world.

12. Queen and David Bowie: “Under Pressure”

Queen and David Bowie
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Like Paul McCartney, David Bowie also appears twice on this list. I couldn’t omit this song. It’s another case of two icons of the age coming together and producing a tune that still resonates in the modern age. “Under Pressure” features two exceptional vocal performances, but the combination works, and the track was a global hit.

13. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Kylie Minogue: “Where the Wild Roses Grow”

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Kylie Minogue
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As a singer, Kylie Minogue doesn’t always get the credit she deserves. She’s a versatile artist, which is underlined by her stunning performance on this gloomy track. “Where the Wild Roses Grow” formed part of the Bad Seeds Murder Ballads album — a series of songs with a grim theme. The track fits Cave’s voice, but Minogue’s performance offers an incredible balance, and the release was a well-deserved global success.

14. Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”

Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
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Stevie Nicks dominates the vocals, and the track appears on her 1981 solo album Bella Donna, but this is a genuine collaboration. Tom Petty and Mike Campbell wrote the track, while “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” features the classic country-rock style of The Heartbreakers. It’s a perfect storm, and the result is a gritty ballad that reached number two on the U.S. Billboard charts.

15. Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey: “One Sweet Day”

Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey
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A poll by Rolling Stone magazine declared this to be the best musical collaboration of all time. Organizers suspected that Mariah Carey fans swamped the vote, but “One Sweet Day” is still a worthy inclusion. As a song that held the number one spot for an incredible 16 weeks, it’s impossible to ignore.

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