Strange score

A COMMON pastime in the wee hours after a few too many is to list your fantasy musical collaborations. Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash? Maybe. Marilyn Manson and Britney Spears? Not so much.

What about Michael Jackson and Robert Burns? It turns out it's not quite as crazy as it sounds. According to Jackson's life-long friend, the music business and TV personality David Gest, he and the pop superstar have made an album of Burns poems.

"Our favourite poet in the world is Robbie Burns," revealed Gest. "Michael and I were originally going to do a musical on his life, with Gene Kelly directing and Anthony Perkins as executive producer – but they both died. So Michael and I put all the poems to music. We did Ae Fond Kiss, Tam O'Shanter and all that. We turned his work into show tunes." Gest says he has all the recordings, but no word yet as to whether the album will be released. It did however get us thinking about other unlikely musical collaborations...

Bing Crosby and David Bowie

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What is it about Christmas songs that can unite the most unlikely musical pairings? Think Shane McGowan and Kirsty MacColl on 1987's Fairytale of New York, or even less likely Bing and Bowie singing 'The Little Drummer Boy in 1982. Not particularly dignified and did nothing for either artist's career. Pah-rum-pah-pum-pum indeed.

Michael Bolton and Bob Dylan

Truly a collaboration of the sublime and the ridiculous, as Bob Dylan teamed up with Michael Bolton to write the song Steel Bars which appeared on Bolton's 1991 album Time, Love, and Tenderness. Bolton said he was "awed" by Dylan's decision to work with him. The rest of us were simply stunned.

Burt Bacharach and Dr. Dre

Bacharach has collaborated with everyone from Dionne Warwick to Elvis Costello, but no-one expected the man who wrote Walk on By and Always Something There to Remind Me to get together with a potty-mouthed rapper such as Dr Dre. However, hearing is believing and the duo collaborated successfully on Bacharach's 2005 album At This Time.

Kate Moss and Bobby Gillespie

Long before Pete Doherty invited the supermodel to sing along, Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie discovered Kate Moss's singing talents on a drunken train journey between London and Paris. The Scots musician was so impressed he asked her to duet with him on a 2002 cover of Some Velvet Morning. Gillespie described her voice as "really psychedelic-sounding".

Nas and Beethoven

Rumour has it that before rap superstar Nas's mother died she asked that he write a song to inspire children. The result was the 2003 single I Can, which heavily sampled Beethoven's Fr Elise. It remains the rapper's most successful song to date, peaking at No 12 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Jay Z and Annie

Another rapper who chose to sample an unlikely genre was Jay Z, whose mainstream career took off in 1998 with his single Hard Knock Life, which sampled the song of the same name from the Broadway musical Annie. The resulting song featured the R&B superstar rapping over the familiar melody with such choice lines as "Let's sip the Crys and get pissy pissy".

Mike Skinner and Muse

It was Muse frontman Matt Bellamy who said he wanted to collaborate with British rapper Mike (The Streets) Skinner to create "England's answer to Rage Against the Machine". This month, the result of that collaboration between the alt-rockers and pared-down urban lyricist , a track called Who Knows Who, was leaked on the internet. The response from fans on Muse's official website is mixed with comments ranging from "It sounds dreadful" to "very exciting to hear something new".

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

A collaboration between a bluegrass musician and the frontman of a pioneering rock band seems an unusual one, but Alison Krauss and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin's 2007 covers album Raising Sand was widely acclaimed. The country music darling and the curly coiffured rock god's album has been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, and made No 24 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the Top 50 Albums of 2007.

Luciano Pavarotti and everyone

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Pavarotti wasn't fussy when it came to duets and performed on stage with, among others, Michael Bolton, Lionel Richie, Bono, Ronan Keating, Celine Dion and the Spice Girls. Before his death last year, he expressed a desire to duet with Madonna.

Jack White and Alicia Keyes

Bond themes tend to be either hugely successful (Shirley Bassey's Goldfinger) or utterly disastrous (Madonna's Die Another Day). Only time will tell into which category the new Bond film theme Another Way To Die will fall, but news that it will be recorded by the multi-talented garage rock hero Jack White and sensitive and soulful R&B star Alicia Keys suggests that it will certainly be different. While both can count the discerning Bob Dylan among their fans, the two would appear to have little in common. However, Keyes has been quoted as describing the collaboraiton as an "unforgettable experience".

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