Simian Mobile Disco and Beth Ditto, “Cruel Intentions” (2010)
Ditto and her band Gossip are known for giving a synth makeover to a punk ethos for for dancy, sassy numbers that revel in their own simplicity. But when Simian Mobile Disco borrowed Ditto for this 2010 single, the result was a vocal house staple that highlighted the British producers’ knack for songwriting while proving Ditto’s vocal chops could handle more complexity, heralding a more dancefloor-ready sound on both Ditto’s solo and the Gossip’s subsequent releases.
Morgan Page and Lissie, “The Longest Road” (2008)
“Giddy-up and go” commands alt-country singer Lissie on Morgan Page’s breakout tune “The Longest Road.” Before her own debut album came out in 2010, she provided vocals on Page’s, offering a country-tinged twist on electronica that earned Page his first Grammy nomination, a spot on the Dance charts and can perhaps be credited in some small way for the very existence of Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.”
MSTRKRFT and John Legend, “Heartbreaker” (2009)
Classic and big room house has a long history of featuring R&B singers (Deborah Cox, Nina Simone - via sample). But electro? Not so much. Canadian duo MSTRKRFT put John Legend in familiar sonic company (a heavy piano loop keeping the rhythm) and drew on his emotive vocal swing and G.O.O.D. Music swag for what became an underground hit and a staple in sets by everyone from Steve Aoki to your favorite college bloghouse DJ.
Skrillex and The Doors, “Breakn’ a Sweat” (2012)
30 years after their last single, The Doors returned to prominence by way of Skrillex. Thanks to a marketing program by Hyundai, the Grammy winner sampled a clip of the late Jim Morrison’s voice and got the remaining members of the iconic classic rock band to play on this quintessentially dubstep track, crossing not only genres but generations. Though it never led to a true reunion of the band, before he died in May of this year, The Doors’ Ray Manzarek sang the tracks’ praises, telling Billboard
that Morrison would have loved “Breakn a Sweat.”
Oakenfold and Shifty Shellshock, “Starry Eyed Surprise” (2002)
On his debut major label LP “Bunkka,” Paul Oakenfold stacked his tracks with guest vocals from pop (Nelly Furtado) to alternative (Grant Lee Phillips) to gangsta rap (Ice Cube). But it was teaming with Shifty Shellshock of rap-rock band Crazy Town (and future Celebrity Rehab cast member) that gave Oakie his biggest hit of his career. Thanks in part to heavy rotation of its psychedelic, special effects-laden video, “Starry Eyed Surprise” hit No. 41 on the Hot 100, prolonged the musical life of Shellshock by another year, and got wider recognition via a rollerskating Diet Coke TV spot.
Chemical Brothers and Q-Tip, “Galvanize” (2005)
“Galvanize” isn’t exactly a word we often hear in pop music but leave it to Q-Tip to sell it on his contribution to this Chemical Brothers’ single -- a pastiche of string samples, hip-hop beats and the Bros’ trademark big beat production. The Tribe Called Quest MC/producer wasn’t the first rapper to appear on a dance track, but he was the first to win a Grammy with one -- the Chems and Q scored the Best Dance Recording trophy in 2006, beating out Fatboy Slim, LCD Soundsystem and Kylie Minogue. Plus, it nailed a lucrative Budweiser ad sync.
Moby and Gwen Stefani, “South Side” (2000)
It’s hard to remember a time when Gwen Stefani wasn’t a household name, but when Moby asked her to harmonize with him on a remix of single “South Side” from his double-platinum album “Play,” she was just a girl from that band No Doubt. As the first of a one-two punch of guest drops for Stefani (the next being Eve’s “Let Me Blow Ya Mind”), “South Side” became an unexpected hit for Moby, landing at No. 14 on the Hot 100, his highest position on the chart to-date, and inspired a mock-ghetto-fab music video directed by Joseph Kahn.
Calvin Harris and Rihanna, “We Found Love” (2011)
During the promotional cycle for his second album, “Ready for the Weekend,” Calvin Harris started pondering on Twitter, “What Would David Guetta Do?” It seemed the then-lesser-known Scotsman had a craving for some of the superstar DJ’s success. So it should have been no surprise when Harris pulled a Guetta, and produced a global smash with a pop singer. Selling five million copies in the U.S. alone and reaching the top of the Hot 100, where it stayed for a record-setting ten weeks, this collaboration really did find love for both Harris and even the already successful RiRi. It also made the extended vocal-less breakdown - a hallmark of dance records - acceptable in a mainstream track, clearing the way for hits like Zedd’s “Clarity.”
Delerium and Sarah McLachlan, “Silence” (1999)
Front Line Assembly side project Delerium recorded the haunting and ethereal “Silence” with fellow Canadian (and Nettwerk labelmate) Sarah McLachlan for its 1997 album “Karma” -- just before McLachlan’s first Lilith Fair. It would be another two years before it would be released as a single, and then not until 2004 when it would peak on the Dance/Club charts in remix form, scoring the highest position of McLachlan’s many club tracks but Delerium’s only charting U.S. hit -- and bringing the trance sound to the airwaves.
David Guetta and Kelly Rowland, “When Love Takes Over” (2009)
It’s the piano riff that started it all. When David Guetta tapped one of the non-Beyoncé factions of Destiny’s Child to sing on his 2009 crossover megahit, it introduced the French producer to a whole new audience, many of whom were hungry for this thing called EDM and these people called DJs. “Love” peaked at No. 76 on the Hot 100 and repositioned Kelly Rowland as a solo vocalist with chops on her own. Other collaborations (2010’s “Commander”) never hit as hard, but Rowland’s vocal arpeggios are now an indelible part of dance music history, as the warning shot of the impending EDM takeover of America.