After Ariana Grande released a version of her single, 'Problem,' without Iggy Azalea, what are some other songs that are better off without their guests?
Features in music can often be like the dude who shows up to a party with his acoustic guitar. You’re thinking, like, “Why is he even here?” while awkwardly waiting for him to finish his mediocre Oasis cover, and you imagine an alternate universe where that person’s presence didn’t exist. It’s the same thing with bad features, especially in pop music. Now, don’t get me wrong - there are a ton of recent features that are incredible. There could not have been a better person chosen for Zedd’s ‘Stay The Night’ than Paramore’s Hayley Williams, and rapper Big Sean spitting on a verse on Fall Out Boy’s ‘The Mighty Fall’ made it unbelievably awesome.
Ariana Grande at the Billboard Music Awards [Photo: Getty Images, credit: Ethan Miller]
However, there are some collaborations that may sound good in theory, but just leave you scratching your head - the ones that never had a chance at turning into something respectable, but still for some reason happened anyway. Ariana Grande’s recent hit, ‘Problem,’ falls into the “should have been good” category with its cameo from newcomer Iggy Azalea. Though their sounds mesh well, something about Azalea’s verse is just really irritating. Grande can hold her own - she doesn’t need a guest on her song no matter who it is. Of course, that didn’t stop the track from being a massive success, but it does raise the question how it would have sounded without Iggy on it. Interestingly enough, a version without her feature surfaced this week, and to no surprise, it’s significantly better with just Grande by her lonesome. Believe it or not, the guest-less versions of singles exist more often than you’d think, and most of the time, they’re much better by themselves.
Ariana Grande’s ‘Problem’ sounds a lot better without Iggy Azalea on it [Photo: Getty Images, credit: Ethan Miller]
More: Ariana Grande
Take Maroon 5’s ‘Payphone,’ for example. Everyone was a bit confused when it was announced that rapper Wiz Khalifa would be featured on the track before it dropped in 2012, and upon its release, that confusion was proved pretty valid. Khalifa’s bars were terrible, made zero sense, and offered nothing to the song. However, a version without Wiz was played on the radio featuring a bridge just sung by Adam Levine, and it was obviously much easier on the ears. Similarly, Owl City’s follow up to his Platinum record, Ocean Eyes, had the lead single ‘Alligator Sky’ with rapper Shawn Chrystopher. Shawn who!? He had not one, but two dreadful rap verses in the track, and it failed to reach any chart. But, included on the record was a version sans-Shawn that made it an entirely new track, and a much better one to boot. Ironically enough, Owl City’s biggest hit would come a few years later with ‘Good Time,’ a song that features Carly Rae Jepsen. Go figure.
There are also some occasions where a song is great with its guest in the first place, but it’s even more improved without. With Demi Lovato’s newest single, ‘Really Don’t Care,’ the original track featured pop singer Cher Lloyd, and her bratty attitude worked perfect with the song. Lovato released a solo version just a couple of weeks ago, and it was surprisingly even stronger without Lloyd in it. Basically, there are very few songs that desperately need a guest vocalist to them, but the ones that have them vary between excellent and downright miserable. As long as guest-tracks keep charting, they’ll keep existing, but let’s hope we always get the version without them, too.