A vs B x C featuring D


You probably come to Picky Bastards to read people be picky about the music they love and the music they love to hate. It’s what we all love to do while writing for this website, or appearing on the podcast with Nick, Fran and Matt to have a good moan about that month’s playlist. There’s a scale to this moaning though, from the top where we complain about properly annoying things that piss us off about the music or our experience with it, to the completely insignificant, which do more to explain our own issues than the topic at hand. This moan is one of the latter.

I’m not a perfectionist and certainly not a tidy person, I’d say I fall somewhere in the middle of the extremes on that. I’ll happily leave things lying around for a few days, but I do like making sure it has a place to go back to when I do want to tidy up. I’m the same with my music library, where I cultivated an iTunes library over many years I was proud to call my own. I liked making sure I kept specific versions of songs, rather than having a bunch from some greatest hits collection, but not from the album they came from. You could go to an artist and get all of their songs, correctly named and sorted.

There’s one thing you can’t fix though, especially now that I rely on music streaming services that do the work for you: artist credits. It should be a simple system to follow and it seemed like it was working. There’s the artist who’s song it is, featuring somebody else, or another act. This has to happen within the name of the song, since you couldn’t possibly start listing featured acts within the artist field could you? Rihanna – ‘Umbrella (Featuring JAY-Z)’ for example. A perfectly acceptable way of framing this main artist/featured artist split. That’s not how it works in 2019.

There is a song in the current UK Top 40 that’s artist credits are listed as Jax Jones & Martin Selvig Featuring Madison Beer, another recent hit was released by Sigala with Ella Eyre & Meghan Trainor Featuring French Montana. Sia vs David Guetta & Afrojack is ridiculous. Lykke Li x Skrillex s Ty dolla $ign is equally ridiculous. Why is there a song that is by DJ Fresh vs Diplo Featuring R. City, Seleh Sue & Craig David.

It’s the inconsistency that irks me more than anything else. Using X, Feat. Vs, With and & in seemingly random places to segregate Producers from singers from rappers from that guy who turned up halfway through recording to ask if anyone wanted to have a cuppa. It’s infuriating as it is for standalone songs, but across an album of collaborations it’s bonkers. Take the recently released No 6 Collaborations Project from Ed Sheeran, which has artists like Stormzy and Ella Mai down in a Featuring slot, but gives Chrs Stapleton, Bruno Mars and Justin Beiber a ‘With’ credit.

It’s surely a label decision, where the politics of who gets a featured credit, or a vs or an equal ‘with’ billing is surely a nightmare to deal with behind the scenes. I’m just a music fan though, who doesn’t want 8 different artists in my library that contain Dua Lipa in the name. It’s important for artists to get the credit they deserve and if listing everyone out individually is necessary then so be it. Just get rid of the pointless Sam Atkins with Rusty the Cat vs DJ #107 x That Barista at Cafe Nero Featuring Nicki Minaj bollocks already.

Words by Sam Atkins. 

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