Jimmy Kimmel remembers the moment he came up with the idea for MashUp Mondays, Jimmy Kimmel Live!‘s end-of-show segment that pairs artists based on the compatibility of their names as opposed to their music and airs during sweeps ratings periods in February, May and November. He saw a YouTube video of Huey Lewis from Huey Lewis & The News playing with Foo Fighters. “Dave Grohl referred to them as Huey Lewis & The Foos,” says Kimmel, 48. Cue lightbulb!
The first MashUp Monday premiered in February 2015 with Morris Day and Haim performing The Time‘s 1984 classic “Jungle Love” as Morris Day & The Haim. Subsequent collabs include Panic at the Sisqo with “Thong Song” (Kimmel‘s most-watched clip yet, with 600,000 views on YouTube), Fall Out Boyz II Men with “MotownPhilly” and saxophonist Kenny G and Warren G on the rapper’s 1994 hit “Regulate” as Kenny & Warren G.
The hope of the ABC show, which averages a 0.6 rating among adults 18-to-49 and 2.4 million viewers (according to Nielsen), is to create a one-of-a-kind performance — akin to more established concepts like James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke or Jimmy Fallon’s Classroom Instruments — that can go viral and also keep the late-night audience tuned in. Says Kimmel: “To get people to stay until the end and see what this crazy performance will be like is our number-one goal.”
The May 2 MashUp Monday, Of Monsters and Men at Work, pairs Icelandic group Of Monsters and Men with Colin Hay of Australian band Men at Work and took more than a year to come together, says Kimmel music executive Scott Igoe. Instead of performing only a Men at Work classic, Hay suggested combining four songs — Of Monsters and Men’s “Little Talks” and “Love Love Love” and Men at Work’s “Down Under” and “Overkill.” (Acts usually work out parts on their own, then first meet at rehearsal, but because of the complexity of their mashup, Of Monsters and Men went to Hay’s house in Santa Monica a week before to practice.)
“I was a bit scared at first,” says Monsters singer Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir. “The first two songs are bright and open; the others are a completely different vibe.” Ideally, both acts would gain exposure from their collaboration, but making a great mashup comes first. “The idea is to do something which actually sounds good,” says Hay. “Whatever happens from there is an added benefit.”
This article originally appeared in the May 7 issue of Billboard.