Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Top 40's Favorite Formula: Superstar Duets

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Top 40's Favorite Formula: Superstar Duets

Article excerpt

In a summer season when no one can outrun Gwen Stefani's inescapable "Sweet Escape" with its irresistible assist from hip- hopper Akon, the forecast for the rest of the pop-music calendar calls for much more of the same.

Everywhere you listen, it seems, rappers, pop stars, rockers, and country crooners are turning to their famous friends for a bit of wattage - and a bit of a sales boost.

Guest appearances have long been a staple in various music scenes, but the latest round makes for a particularly pronounced example of the ploy. It's a well-established trend in R&B and hip- hop, but diminished sales in the rap world may have spurred a flood of partnerships ranging from Nelly (Snoop Dogg and R. Kelly) to 50 Cent (Mary J. Blige, Justin Timberlake and Eminem, among others).

Then, of course, there is the ubiquitous Timbaland, who appears on Nelly Furtado's recent hit "Promiscuous," and also has a slew of cameos in the works, including a future project with frequent collaborator Justin Timberlake - and Madonna. And don't forget Rihanna's turn with rap icon Jay-Z in the chart-topping "Umbrella."

It's no different in the pop and country genres, either. Brad Paisley turns to American Idol wunderkind Carrie Underwood for a bit of balladry on his new disc, while Queens of the Stone Age adds a bit of bark with a guest spot from Strokes singer Julian Casablancas.

And, in a deft combination of both genres, Bon Jovi's new country- accented rock disc, "Lost Highway," includes a stomper with rowdy country duo Big & Rich as well as a soccer-mom ballad with LeAnn Rimes.

"There are more now than there were four or five years ago - there is a ton of collaboration," says Scott Lindy, director of country programming at Sirius satellite radio. "It has been there in the past and I think it just ebbs and flows. Right now, it's happening a lot more."

Lindy credits frequent collaborations between the husband-wife hitmaking team of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill for driving a newfound interest in country duets. …

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