5 Significant and Unexpected Musical Connections

Genre-blending artists from the past and present

There’s a lot of hard-core kids who look miserable when confronted with country music, and rap enthusiasts who make gagging noises whenever they hear electronic. But, whether it’s for the sake of their art or their pocket books, a lot of artists aren’t as image and genre bound as their listeners…
 

Neil Young and Rick James
In the mid-1960s, there was a pretty awesome band called The Mynah Birds. James was in Canada as a Vietnam war resister, and Young was busy exploring Toronto’s Yorkville music scene (which was pretty badass.) The two met and magic was made. James was ultimately deported, but thankfully footage of this unique R’n’B band exists on Youtube:


 

Alvvays and The Rankin Family
Not as surprising, but still a useful bit of trivia. Some of you probably remember the Rankin Family (Orangedale Whistle? Anyone?) They’re a musical family group from Nova Scotia and fun in a traditional folk way. Molly Rankin, from Alvvays, is the daughter of former Rankin Family member John Morris Rankin. It’s a pretty far cry from “Archie, Marry Me”, isn’t it?


 

Paul Anka and Michael Jackson
Paul Anka is probably most familiar as the crooning Canadian sex symbol who filled up most of the CanCon requirements on commercial radio as soon as the MAPL system was adopted. But he was also one hell of a song writer. He worked with Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, and, yes, Michael Jackson. “This Is It” was released in 2009, but Anka co-wrote it with Jackson in 1983.


 

The BeeGees and Nina Simone
“To Love Somebody” is a classic BeeGees song, but it was also covered by other musicians, and more successfully. Whereas the BeeGees’ version only reached #17 in the USA and #41 in the UK, Nina Simone’s version of the same song went to #5 on UK charts two years later in 1969. A couple years down the road, Michael Bolton got in on the action and did his version in 1992 (it made it to #16, in case you were curious.)


 

Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C.
It’s a classic song now, but at the time it was quite a feat of genre blending: “Walk This Way” mixed American rock with hip-hop, and was as successful commercially as it was artistically.
But collaboration is all over the place these days. Hell, there’s even a Miley Cyrus/Snoop Lion song. You can Google that on your own, though.