Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme joined Arctic Monkeys last night for a surprise guest appearance live in Los Angeles. That’s true. You can watch it above (via WeAllWantSomeone). But you have to wait until pretty far into the song. And all Homme does is pretty much boom out a mournful backing vocal. Which suggests it’s time to talk about how ingenious and ridiculous these two bands have been in their use of guest appearances.
The song Arctic Monkeys performed with Homme was “Knee Socks,” which also features the QOTSA frontman on the U.K. band’s excellent new album, AM. It’s firmly in the record’s fuzz-crunch style, fitting lyrics about the one who got away to a lilting, “Tom’s Diner”-like hook. But even on the album, Homme’s presence lasts a matter of seconds, not minutes. But it got us talking.
Homme’s main band, of course, is masterful at the almost-invisible famous-person “feature.” Prior to the release of this year’s …Like Clockwork, every news cycle seemed to bring word of an additional noteworthy guest: Dave Grohl, Elton John, Trent Reznor, Jake Shears, Mark Lanegan, Nick Oliveri, even Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner. When the album finally arrived, though, it sounded like nothing but QOTSA.
So the collaborations here might be more in name than in fact, but they’re grabbing our attention, which means they’re working. And that brings to mind how Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories saved music and doomed us all by showing how a musical act could seize control of the ever more distracted Internet (hello, Miley Cyrus). Turner and Homme make beautiful music together, but in the hands of more cynical media manipulators, these kinds of musical cameos could be used to flood the blogs with a million artist team-ups that put the “I” in team.
Of course, that might not be the worst thing in the world. Paul McCartney had a guest appearance on a Super Furry Animals album that was just him chewing carrots, and that was pretty great.