Hive Five: Grammy Collaboration Conundrums

Rapper T-Pain, musician Slash, and singer Jamie Foxx perform onstage during the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards, January 31, 2010. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

One of the buzziest angles of Sunday’s fast approaching Grammy Awards is the Beach Boys reunion … and how it’s being “sullied” by making them share the stage with corporate pop rockers Maroon 5 and indie-ish earwormers Foster the People. As far as we can tell, the thread tying these bands together is that all three are … bands?

To be fair, sometimes the Grammy Cabal gets it right and their pairings lead to legendary moments (e.g. Tina Turner with Beyoncé in 2008; Bruce, Dave Grohl et al for “London Calling” in 2003). But often, the combinations are perplexing and lackluster. And quite frankly, those are more fun to revisit. So here are five truly head-scratching Grammy grouping misfires. Hold out hope that we won’t have to add the Beach Boys extravaganza to the list in a few years.

1. Jamie Foxx, T-Pain, Doug E. Fresh and Slash (2010)

We might as well start at the bottom, with this truly awful amalgamation of trends gone haywire. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Auto-tune, or combining rock with hip hop, but somehow this performance managed to mangle them both individually before combining them into just the biggest pile of crap. Jamie Foxx, a good singer, resorted to mechanized barking through much of the song while wearing a cape. Slash, a good guitarist, apparently cared so little about the gig that he didn’t bother to tune his ax. T-Pain … well, he T-Pained the whole time. Hey, at least now we know where the Black Eyed Peas looked for inspiration for the past two years.
2. Elton John and Backstreet Boys (2000)

When you think of Elton John and the Grammys, his duet with Eminem probably comes to mind. But you see, this was his first salvo in the odd-pairing war. Elton did all the heavy lifting while the BSB’s just huddled around Elton’s grand piano, seemingly tethered in place like that poor goat in Jurassic Park, prohibited from breaking out into dance or looking longingly into the camera as is tradition for boy bands during slow songs. If the Backstreet Boys aren’t out there in a V-formation doing synchronized stomp-swivels, then why have them out there at all?
3. Jay-Z, Linkin Park and Paul McCartney (2006)

Linkin Park with Jay-Z? Understandable, “Numb/Encore” was a solid mash-up. Jay-Z and Paul McCartney? We could maybe deign to understand. But all three entities, together, transitioning from rap-rock into “Yesterday”? Incomprehensible. Or is it? Turns out there’s a reasonable explanation: the main reason The Beatles broke up was because Paul always thought “Yesterday” needed more drum machine and a guy going “uh-huh, yeh … thass right” in the background. So, dream realized!

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