Artists teaming up to record together is nothing new – collaborations are more popular than ever, with half of the Official Singles Chart Number 1 of 2017 featuring one or more artist. But when it comes to committing to a whole album together, stars can be a bit harder to pin down.
Unlikely duo Sting and Shaggy have collaborated on an album 44/876 – released this week – got us thinking about other big-name team-ups over the years.
In rap and hip-hop, of course, collaborative albums are hugely popular – with one of the biggest of recent years being Jay-Z and Kanye West's regal partnership on Top 3 album Watch The Throne from 2011, which spawned three Top 40 singles including Top 10 hit N****s in Paris. Jay has also made albums with Linkin Park (2004's Collision Course) and R Kelly (2002's The Best Of Both Worlds) in the past. More recently, Drake & Future also hit the Top 10 with their collaboration What a Time to be Alive, 6 in 2015.
Jay-Z and Kanye West accepting the BET Award for Best Group for Watch The Throne in 2012 (Rex).
Some collaborating stars take the opportunity to experiment with different genres. In 2014, Lady Gaga went all jazz with legend Tony Bennett, the pair hitting Number 10 with Cheek to Cheek, and Elton John explored his dance side when he collaborated with Australian dance outfit Pnau on Good Morning to the Night, which heavily remixed some of the bright knight's vintage tracks.
Queen frontman Freddie Mercury switched out his stadium rock for a flirtation with opera and teamed up with Spanish diva Montserrat Caballe, enjoying a Top 20 hit album with Barcelona.
Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant teamed up with country singer Alison Krauss in 2007 for the Americana-flavoured Raising Sand, winning awards plus a Number 2 placing in the UK into the bargain.
Nobody was expecting Lou Reed and Metallica to work together, but they did, in 2011 on Lulu. Originally intended to be an album of Metallica covering some of Reed's unreleased tracks, the two acts instead worked together in the studio, with Reed providing spoken lyrics over Metallica's backing track. It divided critics – to put it mildly – but it made the Official Albums Chart Top 40.
Often collaborations feel so right because artists exist in a similar space. In the Motown era of the '60s, for example, it was pretty common for the label's acts to get together for albums. Diana Ross & the Supremes enjoyed four Top 40s with the Temptations, including a Number 1 in 1969 – the only chart-topping LP in the UK for either group – and once Miss Ross had done a bunk, the remaining Supremes landed a Number 6 album with the Four Tops in 1971.
Marvin Gaye was famed for his duets with a host of talented female stars, and he also charted with a greatest hits collection with popular collaborator Tammi Terrell, and went Top 10 in 1974 with Diana & Marvin, a team-up with you know who. Alfie Boe and Michael Ball have also made the most of their overlapping fandoms, coming together for two Number 1 albums in 2016 and 2017.
Jazz icons Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Arsmtrong were regular collaborators, and made three albums together, including the classic Porgy & Bess. Their work had enduring appeal – their Ella & Louis Together boxset charted in the Noughties. And legendary Burt Bacharach is renowned for collaborating on albums with singers – he's charted with Elvis Costello in 1998 and Ronan Keating in 2011.
Sometimes when you're looking for a collaborator you don't have to search very far. They worked together side by side in Fleetwood Mac for decades, but Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie went it alone in 2017 and had a Top 5 album into the bargain!
Barbra Streisand is a keen collaborator too – she scored a Number 1 album in 1977 with the soundtrack to A Star is Born, which also featured Kris Kristofferson. Barbra and the Bee Gees' Barry Gibb got together for 1980 album Guilty – though Barry didn't sing on all the songs, he was on the cover ad wrote and produced all tracks – before teaming up again 35 years later for Guilty Too (see what they did there?), which went Top 3.