Hit & Run: When divas join forces

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The Independent Online

Not since Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson teamed up for "I Know Him So Well" has the diva community been so excited. The news that Beyoncé and Lady Gaga are teaming up on a secret project will no doubt have their respective fans squirming in their chairs – with anticipation, that is, not because their bodysuits are chafing. Beyoncé, credited with one of the catchiest songs and most-copied dance routines of the past year with her hit "Single Ladies", has a repertoire that extends across soul, gospel, R'n'B and disco, not to mention crunk. Gaga, meanwhile, has a great wardrobe team and a vocoder.

The marketing trick will supposedly boost each singer's profile, just like when Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario join forces in the same video game – but you always get the impression that Sonic only really wants to collect rings, while Mario's missing Luigi. True, no diva is an island, but they all have their own agenda and in this case, you can't help wondering if Beyoncé's ulterior motive is to highlight Lady Gaga as the lesser performer. Only a matter of months ago, the tabloid press were comparing pictures of the two singers' crotches in their high-legged onesies and asking if Gaga was the new Beyoncé. Clearly she isn't.

This is the latest attempt at one-updivaship, also practised by the likes of Madonna with Britney (all Madge did was sing "And me" at the end of the chorus, like a hanger-on at a karaoke party), and Whitney and Maria (cue kamikaze octave leaps and improv deadlock). When the titans of rock get together, it's known as a supergroup; but when the women do it, they end up desperately trying to out-wail each other on a power ballad – see Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand's wretched "Tell Him", featuring a painful video in which they compete even for who is wearing the fluffiest oatmeal-coloured cardigan.

But Beyoncé is a repeat offender – not only did she sing with X Factor winner Alexandra Burke in a fit of altruism which left the audience in no doubt of who was still Queen Bee, she also tackled then-opponent Shakira in the duet "Beautiful Liar", last time there was a pretender to her throne. The Columbian songstress, who showed up and threatened Beyoncé's title of meanest hip-waggler in pop, was put in her place by a video that rendered the two singers indistinguishable, apart from one who had a Columbian accent, clearly didn't understand what she was singing about and was less good at waggling. So "Single Ladies" may be more philosophy than song title for Beyoncé; she's certainly a lone ranger when it comes to gloryhunting. Just as well then Gaga has honed her Pokerface. Harriet Walker

Stairways to heaven: these funerals really rock

Father Ed Tomlinson, a priest from Kent, has admitted on his blog to feeling "like a lemon" at funerals, as modern mourners frequently forgo a traditional requiem in favour of the hits of Robbie Williams or Tina Turner. "The best our secularist friends can hope for," Tomlinson wrote, "is a poem from Nan, combined with a saccharine message from a pop star, before being popped in the oven with no hope of resurrection."

So why, Hit&Run wonders, is today's demand for rock'n'roll funerals not catered to by rock'n'roll funeral parlours? Such an establishment could offer a selection of leather-upholstered, rhinestone-encrusted coffins; if the family fancies an open casket, they could also take the "Kiss make-up" option; plus, of course, their choice of music. The most popular funeral song of 2009 is "My Way", but surely "Ashes to Ashes" would be more rocking? Or what about "Get Off Of My Cloud"? If your vicar feels like a lemon at your nearest and dearest's farewell, he can stay at home preparing a sermon while the Stones accom-pany the deceased to the grave. Tim Walker

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