Featuring songs made by friends, frenemies and rivals who bring out the best in each other, from boygenius and Vulfpeck to the Spice Girls and the Beatles.
When it comes to making music, sometimes two heads—or three, or four—is better than one. The right creative partners can take a song from good to great to classic, and if nothing else, it can be a lot of fun making art with the company.
Whether you’re in a band or at a show with friends, there’s something special about sharing music with others. That’s why we’re celebrating the bands and artists that are simply “Better Together”—friends, frenemies or rivals that knew how to highlight each other’s strengths.
Vulfpeck feat. Antwaun Stanley - “Birds of a Feather, We Rock Together”
True to this song’s title, Vulfpeck knows all about the joy of playing music with like-minded musicians. The band’s core quartet often bring in their close-knit circle of collaborators to guest on tracks and soul singer Antwaun Stanley happens to be on some of their best songs.
With harmonies as tight as a warm hug and a head-bobbing groove, this song is simply made to soundtrack your next fireside get-together.
Spice Girls - “Say You’ll Be There”
If there was any group that lived by the idea of “better together,” it’d be the group who taught an entire generation that friendship, in fact, never ends. The Spice Girls were the friend group every ‘90s girl wanted to be a part of. Over 20 years later, fans still fly their Girl Power flags whenever a chance of a Spice Girls reunion is on the horizon.
Boygenius, Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus - “Not Strong Enough”
Make no mistake: all three members of boygenius are pretty fantastic on their own. But like any enduring supergroup, the trio bring out the best in each other, as heard on their latest single from their upcoming full-length debut, the record.
Of course, there are plenty of supergroups that are musically harmonious, but otherwise really can’t get along (more on that in a minute), so it’s refreshing to see that Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus are genuine friends. The song’s music video is literally just them hanging out, and like the track itself, it’s a true delight to witness.
BLACKPINK - “Kill This Love”
This playlist would be incomplete without some K Pop. With massive production and a hip-hop inspired beat, the quartet’s 2019 single “Kill This Love” plows through its three-minute runtime with an unstoppable force that’s perfectly tailored to get you hyped.
De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, Q-Tip - “Buddy”
This track from De La Soul’s seminal 1989 work 3 Feet High and Rising is finally available on digital and streaming platforms after years of legal battles. With a fast and loose energy that feels like your most talented friends trading bars near a mic that happens to be on, “Buddy” shows off the Native Tongues collective positive vibes in full force.
With the recent passing of De La’s Trugoy the Dove, it’s comforting knowing that the group’s music is now more accessible than ever for future generations of listeners.
The Roots feat. Erykah Badu & Eve - “You Got Me”
Long before The Roots, the coolest band on late night, Questlove, Black Thought and co. cemented their place in the hip-hop canon with Things Fall Apart.
On “You Got Me,” the band locks into a sparse groove of primarily acoustic guitar and drums, setting the stage for Black Thought, guest MC Eve and the enigmatic Erykah Badu to spin an ominous tale of love, trust and loss. No wonder why they’ve got that Tonight Show gig on lock.
Run-D.M.C. feat. Aerosmith - “Walk This Way”
From bands and collectives, we now turn to a different kind of harmonious pairing: The unlikely duo. Producer Rick Rubin proposed that Run-D.M.C. remake “Walk This Way” with Aerosmith, who were looking for an ‘80s comeback.
Initially, the crew was skeptical—DMC remembered telling Rubin that the song was “Country bumpkin, mountain climbing, hillbilly gibberish”—but they eventually got on board, and with the help of MTV, the rest is rock n’ roll and hip-hop history.
The Replacements - “Bastards of Young”
The Replacements are perhaps best remembered as a band whose brotherly bonds led to some of the most influential alternative rock hits of the ‘80s, as well as a nasty penchant for self-destruction.
This 1985 single off fan-favorite Tim is an irreverent punk anthem full of sneering defiance and incredibly catchy hooks with a provocative name. The band did get to perform the song on SNL, in an iconic performance that got them banned from the sketch comedy show for dropping an F-bomb on live TV.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - “Teach Your Children”
With the addition of occasional bandmate Neil Young, CSNY is defined by their volcanic infighting as much as their heavenly harmonies and influential blend of folk, rock and country. But the fact that this gorgeous 1970 track rose above the band’s near-constant firestorm of drugs, alcohol and ego is a feat that the music world is eternally thankful for. Rest in peace, Croz.
Oasis - “Life Forever”
Speaking of bandmates who fight a lot: Noel and Liam Gallagher are the eternally feuding creative forces behind one of the biggest rock bands of the 90s, Oasis. But the tabloid fodder doesn’t take away from the fact that Oasis had something special when making music together.
For evidence of that fact, look no further than 1994’s “Live Forever.” The rousing ballad was a single from their classic debut album Definitely Maybe, and remains beloved by alternative rock fans nearly 30 years later.
The Beatles - “Get Back (Rooftop Performance, Take 2)”
Finally, we close out the playlist with the ultimate “better together” group: Four young lads from Liverpool who were plenty talented on their own, but shined their absolute brightest when they put aside their egos and made some music.
In 1969, several years after retiring from live shows, the Beatles got on the roof of Apple Records and played one last set as a band. “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the auditions!” John Lennon said after their final take of “Get Back.” It’s safe to say that they did.