Skip to the content

POP+ Unites: The Best Genre Crossover Music Hits

MoPOP POP+ Unites presented by First Tech Federal Credit Union

In an increasingly fragmented world, pop culture is a universal language through which we can build connections. The Museum of Pop Culture creates both a physical space and an intellectual and emotional opportunity for people from every background to explore, find community, and recognize their own creative potential.

POP+ Unites, presented by First Tech Federal Credit Union, celebrates pop culture’s ability to bring people together, especially during uncertain and distressing times. As 2020 comes to a close, we're bringing you an array of content that bridges the physical distance and keeps us connected.

"Together is where the magic lives" some say. As cheesy as that may sound, there is some profound truth to it. In what has been a very difficult and challenging year for many, it is easy to lose sight of the beauty and power that comes with building connections and coming together.

Pop culture has always been an incredible medium for making connections. It is a medium of expression through which people from every background—creators and audiences alike—find community and build relationships across communities.

And there are no better examples of how true such a statement is than in music, a space in which many artists have collaborated across genres and fandoms, cultures and generations, borders and oceans; penning lyrics, hooks, and melodies that are unexpected and beautiful; creating crossover-genre music we never knew we needed until we heard it.

Here is a sampling of wonderful and surprising collabs that exemplify the best of the crossover hit.

Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo - "Diamonds othe Soles of Her Shoes"

Some of these collaborations resulted in more than just hit songs; they broke racial and cultural barriers. Paul SimonGrammy-winning album Graceland album not only revitalized his career, but helped introduce the western world to Ladysmith Black Mambazo, an amazing choral group that, like many other South African Black artists of the 80s and 90s, struggled to shine through the shadow cast by an oppressive South African apartheid regime.

Lil Nas X - "Old Town Road" ft. Billy Ray Cyrus

Lil Nas X’s "Old Town Road," featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, helped popularize whole new sub-genres like Country Rap. The genre had been around for decades, but "Old Town Road" would catapult it into the mainstream, and made Billboard history along the way by charting on the Hot Country Songs, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, and Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously.

Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya, Pink - "Lady Marmalade"

Whether it is empowering songs like Beyonce’s remix of Daddy Lessons featuring The Chicks (formerly The Dixie Chicks); catchy hooks and melodies like Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Beiber’s “Despacito; or fun, rocking jams like Aerosmith and Run DMC’s “Walk this Way; unlikely collaborations have birthed anthems that move us anbuild bridges. And it is with this in mind that we made this Spotify playlist just for you. Featuring some of those amazing collaborations that made us bob our heads, tap our feet, and step outside of our genre bubbles. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

First Tech Federal Credit Union is a proud supporting sponsor of MoPOP's POP+ programming.

Learn more about POP+ Unites + for contests, the latest news, and behind-the-scenes content, be sure to follow us on YouTubeFacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

If you like what you see, support the work of our nonprofit museum by making a donation to MoPOP today!


About the author

Kwapi Vengesayi is the Manager of Community Engagement at MoPOP, and a fan and student of all things Motown, Afrofuturism, and Star Trek.