“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it,” said H.E. Luccock. When creative people come together, they build something that is much better than what they could ever make individually. Particularly when women have come together, history has shown that they have had a great impact.
Bringing together the best women collaborations in music, here are the times when the magic happened when women had a collective intention.
Lady Marmalade By Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mýa & Pink
The original was written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan. After visiting New Orleans, Crewe wrote the song as a result of first-hand observations. Eleventh Hour’s producer Allen Toussaint chose it to be the main track for the album ‘Nightbirds’ after first recording it on Eleventh Hour’s Greatest Hits LP in 1974. It became a number one hit the following year after being released in December 1974.
After many years, we have the 2001 version by Christina Aguilera, Mýa, Pink and rapper Lil’ Kim, recorded for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. Besides being a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks, it also topped the UK charts!
The song was featured in the film Moulin Rouge as part of a medley and went ahead to reach number one in America. In addition to being produced by Missy Elliott with writing partner Rockwilder, it also features an intro and outro from Elliott.
The music video directed by Paul Hunter was awarded both “Best Video of the Year” and “Best Video from a Film” by MTV. Furthermore, the song won the 2002 Grammy Award for “Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
Bang Bang By Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj
Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Trinidadian-American rapper Nicki Minaj performed “Bang Bang” together. It’s a translation of an up-tempo, soulful song with a heavy production, built over big bouncy beats and horn blasts. Featuring rap verses mixed with pop lyrics, it is easily one of the biggest pop song ever made.
The song was written by Max Martin, Savan Kotecha, Rickard Göransson, Grande, and Minaj. It was produced by Martin, Göransson, and Ilya, with Kuk Harrell providing vocals.
The song peaked at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100. It also served as a number one debut for Jessie, Grande, and Minaj. it became Jessie’s third number one, Grande’s second number one debut and Minaj’s first number one single.
It reached the top ten in a number of other countries, such as Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland, and South Korea. ‘Bang Bang’ was nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 57th Grammy Awards, and received the Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Song of the Year.
RIAA certified “Bang Bang” eight times platinum in February 2021, and the song has sold 3.5 million copies to date!
Jessie J says,
“The track was like a real females, coming together, empowering, supportive, and then Nicki jumping on it was like the icing on the cake.”
When You Believe By Whitney Houston & Mariah Carey
Kiss and Make Up By Dua Lipa and BLACKPINK
In 2018, the biggest in the pop gang brought us an electrifying reggaeton-pop track. With clubby, incandescent production consisting of bass synths, clattering percussion, and a bouncing backbeat, it gets the girl gang going.
A song by English singer Dua Lipa and South Korean girl group Blackpink, ‘Kiss and Make Up’ comes from Dua Lipa: Complete Edition (2018), the super deluxe reissue of her eponymous debut studio album. Lipa, Chelcee Grimes, Yannick Rastogi, Zacharie Raymond, Mathieu Jomphe-Lepine, Marc Vincent, and Teddy Park wrote the song, and Banx & Ranx handled the production.
The song is about how physical affection can solve a fight between two lovers instead of words. Blackpink included the track on the set list for their ‘In Your Area’ world tour.
Ladies Night By Lil Kim, Angie Martinez, Left Eye, Da Brat & Missy Elliott
Here is the best and the biggest rap collaboration of all time!
With female rappers including Da Brat, Missy Elliott, Angie Martinez, and Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes, this remix was the ultimate summer anthem for the ladies. The original song ‘Not Tonight’ was recorded by the American rapper Lil’ Kim featuring Jermaine Dupri and released on her debut studio album Hard Core.
The remix reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the Rap Songs chart, and was nominated for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group at the 40th Annual Grammy Awards.
Rich Girl By Eve and Gwen Stefani
From Gwen Stefani’s debut solo studio album ‘Love. Angel. Music. Baby.’ comes the song ‘Rich Girl’. Dr. Dre produced the track, which features American rapper Eve, and is a remake of Louchie Lou & Michie One’s 1993 song ‘If I Were a Rich Man’.
“The song discusses my dreams of fame and riches from the perspective of “when I was just an Orange County girl.”
In the writing process, Stefani and Eve helped each other with their parts, and when Dr. Dre heard the demo, he suggested that Stefani play a character in the song. In order to better understand the theme that “even if you’re poor and you have love, you’re rich,” Stefani went to Broadway, having not seen the musical since she was a child.
The difficulties she had in writing the song came from Dre pushing her to write in a new way, but once she presented him with the song, he tricked it.
The song was certified gold, and it was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 48th Grammy Awards
Me Against the Music By Britney Spears and Madonna
‘Me Against the Music’ is a collaboration between Britney Spears and Madonna, featured on Spears’ fourth studio album ‘In the Zone’. Writing credits include Spears, Madonna, Christopher ‘Tricky’ Stewart, Thabiso ‘Tab’ Nikhereanye, Penelope Magnet, Terius Nash and Gary O’Brien.
The track incorporates dance-pop, hip-hop, and funk guitars. Throughout the song, the protagonist battles the music while enjoying the pleasures of letting go on the dancefloor. Critics have praised the video for its symbolic depiction of the sexual roles between the women.
At the 2004 Billboard Music Awards, Me Against The Music won the “Hot Dance Single of the Year” award.
Beautiful Liar By Beyoncé & Shakira
‘Beautiful Liar’ is a mid-tempo song combining Shakira’s Latin and Arabic styles with Beyoncé’s contemporary hip-hop and R&B styles. The song is about women empowerment; two female protagonists sing that they are captivated by the same man, but instead of arguing over him, they agree that he isn’t worth their time.
A piping percussion figure and a mariachi horn section accompany Shakira’s vocals as the song opens. There are grunting noises in the background that compliment the melody. The song’s verses feature a mid-tempo, strutting, hip-thrusting arrangement, mixed with rapid hand claps and guitar strumming.
This track was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards (2007), and a Latin Grammy Award for Record of the Year at the Latin Grammy Awards of 2007. It won the Ivor Novello Award for Best-Selling British Song in 2008.
The music video has won a MTV Video Music Award for Most Earthshattering Collaboration at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards.
Bad Blood By Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar
‘Bad Blood’ is a song by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, taken from her fifth studio album ‘1989’.
Diamonds By Megan Thee Stallion and Normani
As the lead single for the film ‘Birds of Prey,’ this song features Megan Thee Stallion and Normani sampling ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ by Marilyn Monroe, making it the first song directly sampling the jazz classic.
Fitting the theme of the movie, the lyrics of ‘Diamonds’ are about moving on from a relationship and female empowerment. Various scenes from the film’s plot are incorporated into the music video, including a sequence featuring Harley Quinn inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s version of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in the 1953 film ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’.
Telephone By Lady Gaga and Beyonce
It was Gaga’s fear of suffocation that inspired her lyrics in which she preferred dancing over answering the phone, with the phone representing the fear of not having done enough to succeed. Along with Beyonce, the duo also depicts a fear of media suffocation.
WAP By Cardi B Ft. Megan Thee Stallion
The song ‘WAP (Wet-Ass Pussy)’ is a collaboration between rapper Cardi B and singer Megan Thee Stallion.
This hip hop song features heavy bass, hip-hop drum beats, and a sample of Frank Ski’s 1993 Baltimore club single ‘Whores in This House’. A number of explicit sexual references are used in the lyrics by Cardi and Megan to discuss how they want men would please them.
A number of commentators praised the track for its sex-positive message, while others criticized its explicit nature. The song debuted atop the US Billboard Hot 100 with the largest opening streaming week in country music history, topping multiple charts. It became the first female rap collaboration to debut at number one on the Hot 100, giving Cardi B her fourth number-one single in the U.S. Megan also gained her second number one single.
Colin Tilley directed the video, which features cameo appearances by television star Kylie Jenner, singers Normani and Rosalia, and rappers Latto, Sukihana, and Rubi Rose. By breaking the record for the biggest 24-hour debut of an all-female collaboration on YouTube, it is described by The Guardian as “unapologetic in celebrating the sensuality and sexuality of women.”
In 2020, it was the most searched song on Google.