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What do musicians do after selling millions of records and tour tickets? They get into merchandise.
Usually, that means partnering with a brand for a limited-edition drop — maybe sneakers or makeup. Sometimes, artists even end up developing billion-dollar brands of their own, like Kanye with Yeezy or Rihanna with Fenty.
From rockstar-approved laundry detergent to celebrity sex toys and rapper baby strollers, here are some of the most unexpected collaborations out there. Are they terrible? Maybe. Are they incredible? Also maybe.
1. Grateful Dead x Care Bears x Igloo
Recently, the Grateful Dead teamed up with Care Bears and cooler brand Igloo for this nostalgia ménage à trois: the Grateful Dead Dancing Bears Little Playmate. Going off the Grateful Dead’s dancing bear logo, the officially-licensed cooler sees images of Care Bears with the Dead’s Steal Your Face logo on their stomachs. Although not related, Care Bears and the Grateful Dead both “represented peace, love, community and lots of color,” according to Igloo.
As with all of Igloos products, the cooler is actually a great product. It’s compact, stores up to nine 12-ounce cans, and keeps everything cold with foam insulation.
2. John Mayer x The Laundress
John Mayer has done a few brand partnerships, including his best-selling collaboration with G-Shock (Mayer is known to have a massive, impeccable watch collection). Recently, however, the Dead & Company member came out with a less obvious collab: this laundry detergent and fabric freshener package with The Laundress. In interviews promoting The Laundress products, Mayer talked about how much he loves doing laundry. Still, it’s a bit odd for a rockstar to care this much about nice-smelling clothes.
3. Spice Girls x LEGO
Another recent artist-brand collaboration that we definitely couldn’t see coming: the Spice Girls teaming up LEGO. Together, the British group and the toy company are launching a LEGO BrickHeadz Spice Girl Tribute set, which sees all four Spice Girls turned into buildable figurines. The girls are all surprisingly recognizable as LEGO people thanks to iconic outfits and even a microphone and stand accessory. Significantly, this collaboration is the first BrickHeadz collection that uses “actual people” as the inspiration, instead of fictional characters.
3. DJ Khaled x Cybex
DJ Khaled is a family man now with a wife and two kids, so the Grammy-nominated producer took his perfectionist attitude to a new endeavor: baby strollers. Together with Cybex, Khaled launched a collection of strollers (and other parent gear) featuring his own designs and logo. Throughout the strollers are bold jungle-inspired patterns, complete with lions, zebras and flora, and on the outside of each is a “We The Best” logo.
The collaboration is totally unexpected from the hip-hop mogul, but the strollers are probably more fun than most. Besides strollers, the collection also includes a changing bag, a stroller parasol, and a footmuff.
4. Demi Lovato Bellessa Vibrator
Looking for some celebrity-approved self-pleasure? Check out the Demi Wand. It’s a vibrator dildo created by Demi Lovato and sex toy brand Bellessa to “take the stigma away from pleasure, and to take your sexual relationship to the next level,” according to an Instagram post from Lovato (the post has since been deleted).
In a press release for the Demi Wand, Lovato also said, “There is nothing more empowering than taking your pleasure into your own hands.” The device is compact, measuring just 5.5 inches, making it good for sex toy newbies. It also includes a discreet clamshell case that fits in a purse and charges the wand when not in use.
5. Lady Gaga x Oreo
How does six-time Grammy-winner and Oscar-nominee Lady Gaga treat herself? Apparently, with a stack of Oreos, like the rest of us. In 2021, Gaga teamed up with Oreo for a run of special-edition cookies. In classic Gaga style, the singer and actress injected the cookies with her own lively color (literally): they feature neon green creme and neon pink cookies.
But the collaboration didn’t stop at a cookie re-design. There’s also a QR code in each of the special-edition Gaga Oreo packages, which unlocks a special recorded kindness message (customers were also encouraged to make their own “kindness recordings”). What’s more, the Oreos support Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, a non-profit co-founded by Gaga to address mental health issues in young people.
The Gaga Oreos sold out very quickly in stores, but you can still find them on Amazon.
6. Mariah x McDonald’s
As a Christmas gift to fans, Mariah Carey recently partnered with McDonald’s for a “Mariah Menu.” For the 12 days leading up to Christmas 2021, the Mariah Menu gave customers a different free item each day when they spent at least $1 on the McDonald’s app.
“What makes me happy is that people are going to get stuff for free and that’s the thing that makes it great,” she told Rolling Stone in an interview.
The partnership also included some Mariah x McDonald’s merch, given away at random to customers of the special menu. One piece from this collection was a T-shirt with an iconic throwback photo of Mariah eating McDonald’s. We couldn’t find any of these T-shirts, even on resale sites, but you can get a worthwhile dupe through Etsy here.
7. Travis Scott x McDonald’s
Mariah Carey is far from the only musician to team up with McDonald’s. Just recently, both BTS and Saweetie did a similar partnership with their own branded menus at the Golden Arches chain. And before them, Travis Scott made roughly $20 million in his McD’s deal, according to Forbes. If you missed Scott’s Quarter Pounder with a Sprite combo, you can still get one of the slightly-unhinged T-shirts from the crossover. Featuring Scott in his action figure form with the text “Tell ‘em Jack sent you,” the shirt is about as strange as the partnership — or any other McDonald’s-musician partnership, for that matter.
8. Post Malone x Crocs
Post Malone teaming up with Crocs doesn’t sound all that weird anymore — but that’s only because Malone made Crocs cool again.
Since 2018, Post Malone has done five collaborations with Crocs. His collaborative rubber clogs paved the way for more shockingly-high-profile Crocs collabs (namely, Justin Bieber, Luke Combs, and Diplo) while also doing the previously unthinkable: making Crocs cool.
All of Malone’s Crocs collabs were a hit: they quickly sold out and can now only be found on resale sites like StockX. The most recent launch included two rubber shoes — both chunky, exaggerated renditions of Crocs’ Classic Clog — in pink and black. And the collections are actually on-brand for Posty, who takes sartorial leaps (like getting diamond fangs), but the fact that Malone could turn around the famously un-cool brand is a quite a feat.
To promote his first collection with Crocs, Malone went back to the Chicken Express, a restaurant in South Lake, Texas, where he used to work, surprising customers and employees with a pair of free Crocs. Needless to say, their answer to “Do you want Crocs with that?” was a resounding “Yes!”
9. Luke Combs x Crocs
Post Malone isn’t the only musician who has teamed up with Crocs. Country star Luke Combs also lent his name — and backwoods aesthetic — to a new version of Crocs’ classic clog. The limited-edition Luke Combs x Crocs Classic Realtree Clog featured a camo graphic and a variety of hunting-themed Jibbitz charms along the shoe. The finishing touch: a working bottle-opener secured to the back strap.
Combs says he’s been a genuine fan of Crocs for a while now, and he admits to wearing the sandals in the studio whenever he’s recording. “I love Crocs because you get to be who you are,” he says. “These are very me, and I hope people enjoy them, especially my fans, ’cause these LC2’s are awesome. I mean, a working bottle opener on your camo and orange shoe? I’m in.”