Paul McCartney collaborations: the good, the bad and the stadium rock dubstep

Rihanna’s new single may involve Paul McCartney strumming an acoustic guitar, but this is only the latest in a long and not always impressive list of Macca collaborations …

If buzzworthy new artist Paul McCartney really was boutta blow earlier this month when Kanye West let him play some keyboards on his new track, then this week could see the hip youngster’s brand go stratospheric. Rihanna’s new single Four Five Seconds sees her reaching out to both Kanye and P-Mac, letting the latter strum some acoustic guitar like the glorified pop intern he no doubt is. It’s arguably not the greatest single you’ll hear this week – in fact, it’s possibly one of the most rubbish singles you’ll hear all year – but it does succeed in keeping McCartney in the public eye, which gives us a great chance to uncover some of his underground work with other artists before he went global.

Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder – Ebony and Ivory

McCartney hooked up with Wonder for a song in which they didn’t just play the keys but thought deeply about what they really meant, maaan. Think about it: they’re black, and they’re white, but you can’t play a tune without both (actually you can play Happy Birthday, or Oh When the Saints Go Marching In, or probably most Oasis songs, without touching the black notes, but let’s not ruin the metaphor). The song was pretty rubbish, as evidenced by the fact it failed to end all racism ever.

Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney – The Girl Is Mine

What lucky, lucky lady wouldn’t want to be caught in a lover’s dispute between Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney? Over some laidback 80s pop the two vocalists take it in turns to argue over ownership as the listener is taken on a truly romantic journey: just who does she belong to? Jacko? Macca? It’s a shame nobody got her in for a guest verse to ask for her opinion. That would probably have settled the matter.

Paul McCartney and Johnny Cash – New Moon Over Jamaica

A country and western song about being on holiday in Jamaica … what could go wrong? Sadly, precious little, as McCartney decides not to incorporate an Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da reggae element into this and instead lets Cash’s baritone smother his own vocal input.

Lulu feat Paul McCartney – Inside Thing (Let Em’ In)

Lulu’s 2002 album Together album was quite something – she collaborated with Atomic Kitten, Sting, Marti Pellow, Westlife, Cliff Richard and Bobby Womack! And, of course, Paul McCartney for this slice of piano-fuelled R&B that begins with a musical saw. Obviously.

Nitin Sawhney and Paul McCartney – My Soul

This hook up is a little bit sickly but benefits from McCartney’s voice straying from its usual cheery, double-thumbs up setting. Instead it seems to quiver and falter a little with age, which adds a touch of emotion to proceedings. Although given that proceedings so far have involved an R&B duet with Lulu that’s perhaps not saying much.

The Bloody Beetroots feat Paul McCartney – Out Of Sight

Scan this list up until now and you’re probably thinking “Why did this McCartney fella never team up with a couple of Italians and go stadium rock dubstep?” To which we answer: he did, and this is why he shouldn’t have.

Paul McCartney feat John Lennon – A Day In The Life

Way before Kanye and Rihanna catapulted McCartney to worldwide attention, he was collaborating with all kinds of lo-fi figures in an increasingly desperate attempt to make it. This collaboration with the man behind Whatever Gets You Thru The Night perhaps showed why he struggled, a mishmash of over-orchestration, weird effects and nonsensical lyrics that can’t make up its mind what it wants to be. The whole thing is crying out for a Kanye to come in and sort this mess out with some AutoTune.

Powered by article was written by Tim Jonze, for on Monday 26th January 2015 13.35 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010