Pink did pushups with No Doubt.
Sting duetted with Lady Gaga.
Usher got down with David Guetta.
Perhaps the best thing about the annual iHeartRadio Music Festival, which returns to the MGM Grand for the third time this weekend, has been all the collaborations that have taken place between the many superstars on the bill.
With the festivities kicking off Friday featuring more than two dozen performers ranging from Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry to Drake and Robin Thicke, here are a few pairings we’d like to see this year:
J. Cole and Keith Urban: J. Cole is a supremely talented MC whose commercial aspirations frequently undermine his abilities. Keith Urban is a supremely talented country singer and guitarist whose commercial aspirations frequently undermine his abilities. Together, they should perform Cole’s “Let Nas Down,” a song about sacrificing one’s artistry to reach a broader audience. Best of all, it would provide Urban a fantastic opportunity to show off his freestyle rap skills: “I’m Keith Urban from the land of the ’roos / Home of those big ass cans of Fosters and that prune-faced chap who owns Fox News / Married to the dame who played Virginia Woolf in ‘The Hours’ / But I’ll still shag your mum like me name was Austin Powers.”
Paul McCartney and 30 Seconds to Mars: Paul McCartney can do no wrong. 30 Seconds to Mars can do no right. Put ’em together, and maybe you balance things out. This would-be pairing is kind of like an open bar at your mother’s funeral: sure, the event is kind of a drag, but at least there’s a little something there to take the edge off, right?
Tim McGraw and Ke$ha: Tim McGraw’s cool and all, but the guy possesses all the edge of a Nerf hacksaw. That should change when he teams up with naughty girl Ke$ha, whose repertoire is as blue as a pile of dead Smurfs. Now, we know McGraw is good with hot blondes (see: Hill, Faith), but instead of radio saltpeter like “It’s Your Love,” how about joining Ke$ha on her tawdry hit “Tik Tok?” OK, Tim, your turn on the mic: “I’m talkin’ ’bout everybody getting crunk, crunk / Boys tryna touch my junk, junk / Gonna smack him if he getting too drunk, drunk.” We like it, we love it, we want some more of it.
Queen with Adam Lambert and Muse: This one is almost as obvious as the premise for this story. Bombastic Brit rockers Muse are so infatuated with the Queen catalog, they totally pass it notes in class, carve its initials into trees next to theirs and fog up its bedroom window, noses pressed against the glass, as it gets undressed at night. These two have to play together — just as long as it doesn’t violate any restraining orders.
Elton John and Chris Brown: Elton John’s good at helping rehab one’s image. Remember when he performed “Stan” with Eminem at the Grammys in 2001, back when the rapper was being denounced by some as a homophobe? After that game-changing performance, Slim Shady was guesting on “Will and Grace” and cattily critiquing Oscar red carpet fashions alongside Joan Rivers. Similarly, Chris Brown could use a little of Sir Elton’s assistance, as the hot-headed singer is seemingly reviled by everybody aside from every single teenage girl on Facebook ever. But with Elton’s approval, maybe we’ll finally be able to see Brown in a different light, a kinder, gentler one. If not, fine, he’ll just punch you in your stupid face instead.
Benny Benassi and Tiesto and Zedd: What is every beer vendor’s favorite moment at the iHeartRadio festival? When an electronic dance music act performs. Then, all of a sudden, their lines swell with customers who’d rather stand around for an $8 Budweiser instead of watching the artist onstage. Plenty of big-name EDM stars have performed at previous iHeartRadio fests — Deadmaus, Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia — and all of them have been met with varying levels of indifference, kind of like a toothbrush in the presence of the “Duck Dynasty” cast. Seriously, you know what DJ has garnered the best response in the past? Pauly D. That’s right, the “Jersey Shore” dude who copped his hairdo from the Slim Jim mascot. Why does no one seem to care about the art of DJing at the festival? We’ll go out on a limb and suggest that it has something to do with the fact that Pauly D can do it.
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at email@example.com or 702-383-0476. Follow on Twitter @JasonBracelin.