Now Featuring…

Featured artists can be found everywhere in today’s popular music. But is this something carried over from the past?

In our November 2017 issue, the feature article “Be My Guest” discusses the trend of featured artists in today’s music. Artists collaborating with one another is nothing new—but the style of featuring vocalists on tracks with a “feat.” credit in the title is certainly a product of the rise of genres like rap and EDM. What’s interesting is that this is reminiscent of the big band era, when bands would similarly feature singers in this fashion.

Here’s an example of a singer (Peggy Lee) being featured with a big-name band at the time (the Benny Goodman Orchestra) in 1942:

As rock took over in the ’60s and ’70s, this style of featuring a vocalist mostly fell by the wayside. Instead, the trend evolved into something that better fit the genre: rock musicians guesting on the tracks of other rock musicians and popular artists. When pop star Michael Jackson produced his rock-inspired track “Beat It” in 1982, rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen was invited to perform a guitar solo on the track:

Today, guest appearances from artists is suited to the now dominant genres of pop, rap, and EDM. How will artists treat guest appearances in future popular genres?