The weirdest thing about Willow Smith’s new song “Sugar and Spice” isn’t how downright dour it is (“Inject my soul with darkness”?!?) but rather, the sample it’s built upon: Radiohead’s “Codex,” a song taken from their claustrophobic King of Limbs album.
Simply put, we didn’t know Willow got down that way — we always had her pegged as more of a Travis fan — and while we’re still trying to figure out how “Sugar and Spice” came to be, it’s important to note that, over the past decade, there’s been no shortage of totally bizarre samples used in popular songs … shoot, Kanye’s made an entire career out of doing just that.
But since Willow has definitely set the bar pretty high (at least as far as 12-year-old singers are concerned), we decided to take a look back at some other songs that definitely pushed the musical boundaries, by using the most inexplicable samples in recent history.
Britney Spears’ “Toxic”: Producers Bloodshy and Avant lifted several bits from Lata Mangeshkar and S.P. Balasubrahmanyam’s Bollywood song “Tere Mere Beech Mein” to create one of Brit’s signature hits. Jay-Z would find similar success when he sampled Panjabi MC’s “Mundian To Bach Ke” for his 2003 song “Beware of the Boys.”
Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life”: Famously samples “It’s the Hard Knock Life” from the Broadway musical “Annie,” a trick HOV would revisit a few years later with “Anything,” which emphatically sampled “I’d Do Anything” from Lionel Bart’s musical “Oliver!”
Kanye West’s “Mercy”: What the heck is that vocal sample at the beginning? Why, it’s Dancehall staple Super Beagle, taken from his song “Dust A Sound Boy”. West and Co. used the snippet to fabulous effect last year, though we’re not sure if Beagle knows anything about ass-trays.
Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”: Gaga’s breakthrough hit samples the stuttering hook from Boney M.’s “Ma Baker” (the “M-M-M-Ma”), and, from the look of things, Gaga was also paying close attention to the totally out-there disco getups the group wore when it came time to organize her closet.
Nelly’s “Hot in Herre”: Produced by the Neptunes, it incorporates the hook from Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers’ “Bustin’ Loose,” but the weirdest bit is the intro, which samples the orchestration from Neil Young’s “There’s a World” (off his classic Harvest album) and almost certainly marks the first — and only — time Nelly ever grooved with the Godfather of Grunge.
Puff Daddy’s “Come With Me”: It was the lead single from the 1998 “Godzilla” remake, and, much like the film, it’s massive, monstrous and genuinely pretty terrible … though we suppose it gets points for recycling the Led Zeppelin classic “Kashmir,” with Jimmy Page and Tom Morello providing guitars.
The Throne’s “Paris”: Famously — and entirely inexplicably — producer Hit-Boy decided to sample dialogue from the 2007 Will Ferrell flick “Blades of Glory” … and, bizarrely, it works splendidly. “Paris” would go on to be a massive hit, and, as Ferrell told MTV News , its success had him contemplating “buying a V-neck sweater made out of nothing but diamonds.” We support that decision entirely.
Got any other totally out-there samples? Let us know in the comments below.