I'm on self-imposed True Blood exile. Return readers might already know that I much prefer this vampire world. But the Deep South bloodsuckers just threw me a major hook: Iggy Pop and Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino teamed up for a song to be featured on True Blood's July 8 episode.
Punk's gnarliest godfather crooning it out with a tattooed surfer chick nearly four decades his junior? Music to my ears. Cosentino banishes much of her freshman haze for bluesy lyricism on Best Coast's latest album, The Only Place, while ol' Iggy balances his Stooges standards with French jazz (Préliminaires). His softer side and her robust vox could equal an awesome jam. I'm tuning in.
Historical evidence supports such cross-generational crossovers. Consider Loretta Lynn's award-winning comeback Van Lear Rose, produced and co-written by Jack White. Taking it back further: Nat King Cole's “Unforgettable,” remixed as an imagined—destined, really—duet with daughter Natalie, which won multiple Grammies.
But thoughtful musical match-ups need not rely on interactive technology or sexy vampires. Here's several I think would rock out:
Marilyn Manson and Zola Jesus
Anybody remember 1997's Spawn soundtrack, a well-intended if obtuse blend of popular rockers and trendy electronica? Its sole single found the goth demigod dominating trip-hoppers Sneaker Pimps. Pair Manson with pint-sized Zola, though, and she'll unleash the operatic angels of heaven, hell, wherever onto the Antichrist Superstar's pallid ass.
Björk and tUnE-yArDs' Merrill Garbus
Uh, obvs? Even if we overlook the vocal elasticities of these two, consider Björk's instrumental minimalism on Vespertine and Medúlla, plus Volta's added horn flava. Pair with Garbus' looped percussion and Whokill's sax riffs, and we just made some serious “Bizness” up in here.
D'Angelo and Frank Ocean
The swaggering Soulquarian D'Angelo ends his sabbatical with a long GQ interview—his first since 2000—a Bonnaroo SuperJam with ?uestlove, and more to come. Meanwhile, R&B wunderkind Frank Ocean readies his major-label debut Channel Orange, more a soul-music tutorial than typical pop drivel. If D'Angelo channelled quiet-stormer Smokey Robinson on “Cruisin',” then young Ocean, who has written for John Legend and Beyoncé, is more than ready to make his own neo-soul waves.
Lou Reed and Lana del Rey
Within Reed's lauded back catalogue, I particularly dig his circa-Velvet Underground rasp against Nico's torchy croon. Enter del Rey, the “self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra” (quotes The Guardian), woozy balm to Reed's yowl. For the del Rey naysayers: consider Madeline Follin, the hippie-chic songbird of NYC noise-poppers Cults. Follin's self-lacerating delivery more than matches Reed's solo work. She could do wonders covering The Bells.
Massive Attack and Jessie Ware
The trip-hop progenitors bear a nonpareil CV of guest vocalists for their somber soundscapes, including Shara Nelson (“Unfinished Sympathy”), Tracey Thorn (“Protection”), Elizabeth Fraser (“Teardrop”), and Sinéad O'Connor (“Special Cases”). I recommend adding English singer-songwriter phenom Jessie Ware to that lineup. Her sometimes-slinking, sometimes-searing delivery echoes Martina Topley-Bird (precocious veteran of the Bristol scene, singing with Tricky when she was still a teen). I've got my ears attuned to August 20, when Ware's debut Devotion drops.
Images: Iggy Pop + Best Coast: Pitchfork (slightly photo-chopped by author); Jack White and Loretta Lynn: Buzznet; Marilyn Manson:Devangelical + Zola Jesus: Facebook; Björk: Rubyfruit Radio + tUne-yArDs:The Oedipus Project; D'Angelo: GQ + Frank Ocean: Consequence of Sound; Lana del Rey: Berlin Hair Baby + Lou Reed: ROKPOOL + Madeline Follin: Impose Magazine; Massive Attack: Greenobles + Jessie Ware:Pitchfork