In late January, will.i.am and CL hinted at a collaboration via Twitter. This led 2NE1 and Black-Eyed Peas (BEP) fans to speculate that CL will be filling in for Fergie on BEP’s 20th anniversary album. If true, this is another step Asia will take toward further international recognition. In honor of the potential collaboration, let’s look back at other East-meets-West collaborations over the years to celebrate (Snoop Dogg and PSY need not apply this time)!
Pixie Lott ft. T.O.P and G-Dragon “Dancing on My Own”
YG artists tend to lead the charge with collaborations with Western artists. The 24-year-old British singer collaborated with Big Bang’s T.O.P and G-Dragon on “Dancing on My Own” in 2011. T.O.P and GD sing and rap in English, and they sound amazing! Sadly, this song is fairly obscure and few fans actually know about it. “Dancing on My Own” is a gem that shows off T.O.P and GD’s versatility.
Wonder Girls featuring Akon “Like Money”
During their peak, Wonder Girls showed the most potential to crossover into the Western market by opening for the Jonas Brothers and subsequent ventures in the U.S. with a Nickelodeon movie and various TV appearances. In 2012, the girls had the futuristic song “Like Money” with R&B and hip-hop artist Akon. The song had a perfect pairing of Wonder Girls’ awesome vocals and Akon’s rapping abilities even though it sounded too over-processed at times. However, it had the beat Western audiences loved complete with K-Pop charm.
CL, G-Dragon, Diplo and Skrillex “Dirty Vibe”
2014’s “Dirty Vibe” is half swear-fest, half nervous breakdown, but it caught enough attention from fans to consider it a decent collaboration, though it’s not the best introduction to K-Pop artists. However, Skrillex did choose Western-friendly K-Pop rap artists to participate in the track.
CL, apl.de.ap, and will.i.am “Where is the Love?”
During MAMA 2011, CL performed with apl.de.ap and will.i.am on “Where is the Love?” and gained a lot of love from the Singaporean fans and even earned praised on U.S entertainment websites, starting the United States’ love affair with CL. This performance shows why CL is a fitting choice to fill in for Fergie for BEP’s new album.
G-Dragon and Missy Elliot “Niliria”
Missy Elliot worked with GD on his Coup d’Etat album in 2013. For “Niliria,” the pairing felt natural and necessary since Missy Elliot is a 1990s’ rap icon and GD is one of Korea’s most-known rappers outside of Korea. The only question remaining is why the pairing didn’t happen sooner.
BoA and Westlife “Flying Without Wings”
In 2003, BoA collaborated with British boyband Westlife on “Flying Without Wings” for the group’s Asian release of Unbreakable-The Greatest Hits Vol. 1. A 15-year-old BoA showed her youthful exuberance in the studio, giving the song a hint of innocence. In 2003, Hallyu was just starting to spread westward, so this collaboration was a nice beginning for the West’s introduction to K-Pop artists.
Ne-Yo featuring Utada Hikaru “Do You”
American R&B artist Ne-Yo and Japanese-American songstress Utada Hikaru got together in 2007 for Ne-Yo’s The Collection Japanese compilation album. Ne-Yo has more power to his voice compared to Utada’s unusually subdued tone, but they both pair well to tell a tale of heartache.
Se7en featuring Lil Kim “Girls”
Se7en displays his R&B smoothness in 2009 with “Girls.” His collaboration with Lil Kim earned him some US radio-play (at least where I live). Since he sang in English, many didn’t know it was a K-Pop artist. “Girls” is forgotten these days, but it’s still a worthwhile song.
Koda Kumi and Omarion “Slow”
Omarion has a steady fanbase in Japan, so pairing with Koda Kumi made sense. Their collaboration blurs the line between pop and R&B, creating an interesting dynamic.
AI and The Jacksons “Can You Feel It?”
You read that correctly: The Jacksons, as in the Jackson Five. The Jacksons and AI paired for AI’s tenth anniversary. While the collaboration seems random, AI was once a backup singer for Michael Jackson and even attended his funeral, so the Jacksons coming in to celebrate her tenth anniversary was a nice “thank you” for her service.
JYJ, Kanye West, Malik Yusef “Ayy Girl”
JYJ teamed up with Kanye West and Malik Yusef on the lead single on their English album. While Yusef and West didn’t appear in the MV, their vocals are still felt throughout the song. The rapping and vocals made the song successful and worth listening to, and according to Dazed, demand was so high for the album that production had to temporarily cease.
What are some of your favorite East-meets-West collaborations? Name them in the comments below!
—- Joelle Halon