“Old Town Road,” the western-themed hit song from rapper Lil Nas X feat. country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, has been the No. 1 song in the U.S. since April. While the song represents one of the most bizarre musical collaborations in recent memory, it’s far from the first musical partnership to result in a chart-topping tune.
When multiple musicians team up on a song they can draw from one another’s fanbases. They can also work off of one another’s strengths. For instance, pop singers frequently collaborate with rappers to bring an additional dimension to their songs. The results are often enthusiastically embraced by listeners.
24/7 Tempo has identified the top musical collaborations based on Billboard performance. Each song has not only reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 music chart, but also spent multiple weeks in that top position.
Many of the most popular musical collaborations feature two or more of the music industry’s biggest stars working together. Prior to their marriage, Beyoncé and Jay-Z scored a huge hit with “Crazy in Love” in 2003. Twenty years earlier, Beatle Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson sent their collaborative song “Say Say Say” to No. 1, where it stayed for six weeks. These artists are among those with the most No. 1 hits in music history, so it’s unsurprising that they’ve had success working together.
Independent success, however, is not necessary to the release of a popular collaborative song. Singer Halsey hadn’t released a Top 10 single before being featured on The Chainsmoker’s No. 1 hit “Closer.” Houston rapper Slim Thug also had limited success on the pop charts before appearing on Beyoncé’s hit song “Check on It.”
To identify the top musical collaborations that hit No. 1, 24/7 Tempo identified the songs on which multiple independent musicians perform that spent at least five weeks in the top position on Billboard’s Hot 100 pop music chart. Songs that spent more weeks in the No. 1 position were ranked higher than those that spent fewer. In cases where multiple songs spent the same number of weeks at No. 1, the total number of weeks spent on the Hot 100 in any position was used to determine which song was ranked higher.