You’re the fea­tured singer on a mas­sive banger – but what hap­pens next?

The Guardian - The Guide - - Contents - Kathy Ian­doli

In a re­cent in­ter­view with i-D magazine, Dan­ish pop star Mø out­lined the rea­sons be­hind her de­layed sec­ond al­bum. “Ev­ery­thing changed af­ter Lean On,” she says, re­fer­ring to the global suc­cess of her fea­tured vo­cal on Ma­jor Lazer and DJ Snake’s 2015 banger. “So many peo­ple have opin­ions and try to guide you, and ev­ery­one has the best in­ten­tions, but it makes it harder to cut through the noise.” The video broke the 2bn mark on YouTube, yet Mø has strug­gled with the re­al­i­ties of be­ing an ac­ces­sory to a hit and the pres­sures that come with it.

As a ris­ing artist, a fea­ture on an estab­lished act’s song is a on­cein-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity and while some have al­chemised it into suc­cess, oth­ers have be­come de­fined by it. “Shoe­horn­ing a de­vel­op­ing artist on to a song by a big­ger act only works when the fea­tured singer has a clear vi­sion for who they are,” says Rob­bie Daw, news cor­re­spon­dent for US sta­tion Sir­ius XM Vol­ume’s Feed­back. So for ev­ery Bruno Mars (BoB’s Nothin’ on You), there’s a Mr Hud­son af­ter Jay-Z & Kanye West’s Why I Love You, an Ella Eyre af­ter Rudi­men­tal’s Wait­ing All Night or a Kim­bra af­ter Go­tye’s Some­body That I Used to Know.

In Mø’s case, her de­sired tra­jec­tory was in con­flict with the suc­cess of Lean On. Her de­but al­bum No Mytholo­gies to Fol­low ar­rived a year prior and was more stripped down com­pared to the elec­tron­i­cally cin­e­matic de­liv­ery of Ma­jor Lazer. Post-Lean On, her re­cent sin­gles have seen her col­lab­o­rate with LA-dwelling ra­dio big-hit­ters Ryan Ted­der, Benny Blanco and Cash­mere Cat but the sense was that the top-tier col­lab­o­ra­tors were look­ing for in­stant re­peat suc­cess rather than match­ing Mø’s solo artis­tic vi­sion. Her re­cent, more stripped-back EP When I Was Young speaks more to the ear­li­est it­er­a­tion of Mø, but would surely con­fuse any­one whose ini­tial en­counter with her came via Lean On. “It opened all these doors,” she told En­ter­tain­ment Weekly. “I wanted to find my own sound as well.”

The road to fea­tures is paved with good in­ten­tions. It’s David col­lab­o­rat­ing with Go­liath, and can be mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial. For the up­com­ing artist, it’s a chance to shine, hitch­ing a ride to a mov­ing wagon. For the larger artist, it’s a two-fold win: it’s cost­ef­fec­tive to fea­ture a neo­phyte over a sea­soned singer with deep pock­ets. And if the new­bie blows up, they too are part of the cir­cus. The real chal­lenge, though, is what hap­pens to the newer act af­ter that. “For ev­ery Bruno, there are a dozen fea­ture artists left twitch­ing in pop’s scrapheap,” Daw says. Is it worth the risk? Cer­tainly. But pro­ceed with cau­tion I

When I Was Young is out now

Feat first (left to right) Ella Eyre, Mr Hud­son and Mø

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