Since we’ve all been social distancing, quarantine has brought on lots of boredom, and therefore lots of new projects. Maybe you’ve taken up a new crocheting habit, or perhaps you’re coaxing a loaf out of that sourdough starter in your pantry, or maybe you’ve even developed a new exercise routine. Some celebrities may have more resources than the rest of us, but they’re not exempt from making underwhelming content, either. Some independent artists have continued to put out great art despite being unemployed or experiencing a loss of income right now, while some celebrities have used their resources to make fans happy—and even made some exceptional content in the process.
But there have been some stinkers, too. Here we’ve gathered some of the best—and some of the worst—collaborations to unfold during social distancing. In this list, we’re primarily looking at collaborations among artists and entertainers that have been released during and/or made primarily during the ongoing pandemic. Maybe these songs/numbers aren’t all directly correlated to the coronavirus outbreak, but it’s safe to say Grimes’ and Elon Musk’s baby does not qualify. As for the forthcoming Ariana Grande/Justin Bieber team-up, we’ll have to wait and see. So from Beyoncé and Megan Thee Stallion to that infamous “Imagine” number, here are the best (and worst) collaborative releases from quarantine so far.
Best: Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski & Audra McDonald, “Ladies Who Lunch”
This is not only one of the great moments of quarantine so far, but one of the most delightful moments of the year at large. Part of Broadway.com’s birthday tribute to legendary Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim, actresses (and Mamma Mia! co-stars) Meryl Streep and Christine Baranski were joined by theatre veteran Audra McDonald for a boozy, online, socially-distanced rendition of “Ladies Who Lunch,” a song from Sondheim’s musical Company. Streep, Baranski and McDonald each sipped from a cocktail of choice, and somehow I felt FOMO from an event that I was actually witnessing. This trio is Zoom cocktail hour goals.
Worst: John Mayer & Leon Bridges, “Inside Friend”
I’ll be one of the first to stand up for John Mayer in argument with any music snobs who may slander him, and Leon Bridges is a certified master in the arts of soul music and swooning at this point, but this collaboration is not good. There’s a groovy trap beat and a few lovely licks, sure, but there’s no real heart to this song. Mayer brings the guitar envy while Bridges serves up his characteristically beautiful vocals, but this half-assed attempt at writing a quarantine-inspired crush song is far from either artist’s best work.
Best: Parks and Recreation Reunion
Petition for more of our favorite sitcoms to produce one-time reunions for charity! When it was announced that the cast of Parks and Recreation would gather (virtually) for a reunion special, fans rejoiced—and the final product lived up to the hype. Similar to the recent SNL episodes, this half-hour fundraiser was proof that good TV can happen even when producers and actors aren’t in the same room, setting a new precedent for other networks and shows during this pandemic when gathering is frequently impossible. There was just something so comforting about seeing these characters I love so dearly grace my screen once again during an otherwise uncertain time. Maybe it wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t need to be. Ending the special with a roaring rendition of “5,000 Candles in the Wind” was just syrup on an already-scrumptious stack of waffles.
Best: Mavis Staples & Jeff Tweedy, “All In It Together”
It’s tough not to crack a smile when you hear Jeff Tweedy’s and Mavis Staples’ voices together—or, heck, either of their voices on its own! The Wilco frontman and gospel luminary have collaborated many times before, but in this special edition hopeful anthem, they arrive right when we need them most to offer some hope and good spirits. The celebrity “Imagine” mashup wishes it had what “All In It Together” has: a little soul, a lot of community and a great beat.
Worst: Gal Gadot & co., “Imagine”
This moment from early on in our nation’s fight against the coronavirus continues to be the blunt of many a joke, and that’s right where it belongs. Watching Marvel stars and millionaire models sing this John Lennon song entirely out of context is the last thing we needed at the time. Every last one of the people in this video could’ve done leaps and bounds more to help with the fight against coronavirus if they had chosen to give their funds instead of their voices to the effort. I know they meant well, but it was all in bad form. C’mon, Zoë Kravitz, we expected more from you!
Ultimate Best: Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé, “Savage Remix”
Now, finally, for the crowning jewel of quarantine collabs: Bey’s return! The pop superstar raps on this fortified remix of Megan Thee Stallion’s hit song “Savage,” which has found popularity on TikTok, particularly, thanks to a really catchy choreographed dance that went viral. Hearing these two Texas queens together just feels so right. I am so here for these two queens from “H-Town, goin’ down” singing each other’s praises. Here’s hoping it’s not the last time we hear Megan and Beyoncé on a song together.