Pop music is a delicate science. Each Top 40 single is crafted according to a precise formula and as soon as we heard that Britney Spears and Gucci Mane were hooking up for a remix of Spears’ “Hold it Against Me,” we knew exactly which formula the producers would be using: Hot Singer + Catchy Rapper = Billboard Hit.
Britney brings her rank as the third most powerful musician in the world and previous hip-hop collaboration experience to the experiment, while Gucci brings his face tattoo. This formula is a well-worn one in the music industry. Here are some of the past combinations that have yielded the most successful results.
Mariah Carey and Old Dirty Bastard, “Fantasy”
The precedent was set in 1995 when O.D.B. hopped on the track “Fantasy,” on Mariah’s “Daydream” album. This wasn’t a precisely controlled experiment. It was actually a big surprise. No one planned for O.D.B., who was recording at the same studio, to overhear Mariah’s session and walk in with a freestyle. But he did and it was good.
Christina Aguilera and Redman, “Dirrty”
Seven years later, record execs referenced the “Fantasy” collaboration and paired a fluid rapper with the highest note-hitting pop star they could find–Redman and Christina Aguilera. And so “Dirrty” was born. Aguilera and Redman hooked up during the writing sessions, but she took full control when it came to the single’s video, pulling out every dirty sexual fetish she had from mud wrestling to sthenolagnia (muscle worship). And it worked. “Dirrty” was nominated for a 2003 Best Pop Collaboration Grammy.
Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg, “California Gurls”
Most recently we’ve seen how you can even take an average pop star, pair her with a hip-hop icon and emerge with an international hit single. “California Gurls,” which is actually a response song to Alicia Keys and Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” reached No. 1 in more than 10 countries. Funny thing is, Perry was the one to pick Snoop for the collab after searching him out on Wikipedia’s list of West Coast artists. Just proves that after enough experimenting, even the pop stars can use the tried-and-true formula.