Duets, by nature, are a corny type of song. Sure,
there's a handful that we recognize here that are also some of best
tunes ever recorded, but there's something inherently cheesy and fun
about duets that make them a fun guilty pleasure for millions to
enjoy. Plus, to the delight of karaoke fans, they're usually
easy songs to sing. We've put together a list that spans decades and styles that
I hope you'll enjoy. We kept it pretty traditional in the sense that
there's only 2 performers, with only minimal fudging of the rules
for some "barely" duets with a full band plus a guest star that
still deserve recognition.
by Jenna Fischer and John C. Reilly
from the recent Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is a bit new,
but it's so clever I wanted to include it on the list. There's more
double entendres in this song than a season of The Match Game.
The film got lost in the shuffle at the box office, but I totally
recommend checking out when it's released on DVD. Hilarious stuff.
"Baby, Come To Me" (1981)
by James Ingram and Patti Austin
This song is
just begging you to slow dance to it. It's written by the incredible
Rod Temperton, who's given you tons of other hit songs from George
Benson's "Give Me The Night" and Michael Jackson's "Rock With You."
"Justified & Ancient" (1991)
by Tammy Wynette and The KLF
troubling over this one, because a duet typically features 2 people,
but The KLF is sort of a single Borg-like entity that should count
as one person. I don't know how much weed the KLF guys were smoking
when they came up with the idea to bring in Tammy Wynette to sing
about their magic ice cream van, but I'm glad they did. What I'd
love to see is KLF come back and do a song with Daft Punk. Now THAT
would be justified.
"Hunger Strike" (1991)
by Eddie Vedder/Chris Cornell (Temple of the Dog)
+ Chris Cornell = KICKASS! I sure wish they'd collaborate together
again. When Cornell wails about going hungry, it makes you want to
eat a whole plate full of tater tots that are soaked in the beefy
juices of the medium rare stake that was just on it.
"World Destruction" (1983)
by John Lydon and Afrika Bambaataa
This is also
the first song to merge rock and rap together, predating the Run DMC/Aerosmith
"Walk This Way" collaboration by 4 years. Such a big deal
back in those days, cause it was like "holy shit, this is such a
crazy combination and I love it!" It was also used twice in the
debut episode of The Sopranos.
Don't Bring Me Flowers"
by Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand
sappy as hell, but it's the best kind of sappy. Neil and Barbra
team up to give you a song so joyfully depressing you don't know
whether to hang yourself or get an insulin shot.
"Don't Give Up" (1986)
by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush
I can think
of no other song that better captures the struggles of a man trying
to get by and provide for his family. Kate's ethereal singing of the
chorus can give anyone hope, even after hearing Gabriel belt out
that great, "Got to walk out of here, I can't take any more" line. This
video was filmed by Godley & Creme in a single take, by the way.
"Stop Dragging My Heart Around"
by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty
I've still got a big crush on Stevie Nicks. She could sing a duet
with Wesley Willis and I'd think it was the greatest song ever
(cause frankly, it would be). Petty and Nicks give you a great
mixture of rock and sultriness that still holds up wonderfully all
these years later. From that great opening 20 seconds you know
you're in for a ride, that only gets better as soon as Stevie's
raspy voice kicks in. Petty ain't too shabby, either. A great
"almost break up" song.
#17 "Islands In The Stream" (1983)
by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers
OK, this is
the favorite duet for many folks, but I can't get over the immature
mental image of crap floating down a sewer when I hear the song's
title. But other than that, what's there not to love?
"Baby It's Cold Outside"
by Ray Charles and Betty Carter
there's been a million versions of this late '40s classic, but I
really dig the Ray and Betty version the best. It's easy to make
this song (which is often misinterpreted as a Christmas song) extra
corny, but there's a special eagerness to Ray's vocals that make
this song even better. Though you have to admit that Betty sounds an
awful like Miss Piggy in this version.
#15 "What Have I Done To Deserve This"
Springfield and The Pet Shop Boys
Tennant's voice mixes perfectly with the legendary Dusty
Springfield's in this '80s classic. It was not only a #2 song in the
UK, but it remains Dusty's biggest US hit.
by Iggy Pop and Kate Pierson
A super fun
collaboration of new wave and punk pioneers. From Iggy's croaky
vocals, to the sultry stylings of rock's sexiest redhead, it's a
great song of a relationship that was put on hold. One can only
wonder, however, how fun this song would have been if B-52s front
man Fred Schneider sang it with her.
Bowie and Queen
they totally stole the beat from Vanilla Ice, this crazy Marvel Team
Up duet was an instant masterpiece. There's still never been anyone
else like Mr. Freddie Mercury. Not only one of the best duets ever
recorded, but easily one of my all time favorite songs. I especially
love the part right around the 2:20 mark when Mercury starts wailing
and then Bowie joins in with the echo laced "Love love love love..."
They just don't make songs this good anymore.
#12 "Don't Go
Breaking My Heart"
by Elton John and Kiki Dee
silly song doesn't make you smile, you're a mean jerk. Gotta love
Elton's snazzy outfit and Kiki's Dorothy Hamil "Short and Sassy" in
this video. How can you not sing along "Whooooo hooooooo" to this?
They were whooo hooooing before Gwen Stefani even knew what a whoo
hooo was, damnit!
#11 "Endless Love"
by Lionel Ritchie and Diana Ross
When I was
in 8th grade, this was like the ultimate slow dance song. Well,
that's what our Scoutmaster told us at least. Lionel and Diana are
wonderful in this song and everything about it is simply beautiful.
If you don't sing this with your wife at least once before you die,
you'll die a bitter empty death while someone plays an 8 track tape
of Stryper at your funeral.
"Fairytale of New York" (1987)
by Shane Magowan and Kirsty MacColl
greatest Christmas duet ever recorded, that's for sure. So much
passion in this tune. And any duet that features the taunt, "You
scumbag, you maggot!" is OK in my book.
by Joe Strummer and Johnny Cash
you not team these two guys up and come up with something fantastic?
This song's so great because it was put together due to Joe's
extreme love of Cash and his work, as he was hanging out just
soaking in the experience recording "The Man Comes Around". Rick
Rubin got the two together to record the Marley classic, and the
rest is history.
by Roy Orbison and kd Lang
duo on paper, at the time at least, but Roy and kd rework his
classic into a gorgeous duet featuring two of the greatest vocalists
that ever walked the earth. Too bad this video features scenes from
that stupid video where Jon Cryer went undercover as a high school
"Solid As A Rock" (1984)
by Ashford and Simpson
underrated guilty pleasure that deserves recognition. You can just
feel the love, admiration, and respect between this husband and wife
singer songwriter team. They're one of the greatest songwriting
couples in America. When you're in New York, make sure you visit
their restaurant, Sugar Bar.
More Tears (Enough
is Enough)" (1979)
by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer
this song is about as cheesy and overproduced as it gets, but damn if I don't love
it. It's a disco classic full of so much girl power, that The Spice
Girls should pay royalties.
#5 "You're The One That I Want" (1978)
by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John
wrote this catchy tune for the Grease movie, and it still holds up.
The movie footage that accompanies it sells it even more. I love how
Sandy become a slut to keep Danny, while Danny becomes a square to
keep her, but once he sees her in that insanely sexy skintight black
number, the slut side wins! It's a tale as old as time.
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (1967)
by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
Ashford and Simpson (who's "Solid" also graces our list), this is
just one of those duets that you can't help but sing along to.
"Nuthin' But A G Thing" (1992)
by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg
fact that this is simply just one of the best rap songs ever
recorded, but as rap duos go, this is one of the tightest line
trading performances ever captured. Their styles are different but
blend together perfectly on top of Leon Haywood's gorgeous "I Wanna
Do Something Freaky To You" sample.
Call the Whole Thing Off" (1937)
by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
sure, but it's the best kind of catchy corny ever. Those Gershwin
boys sure could write a song and if you can get Fred and Ginger to
sing it, you've hit a home run, introducing it in the film Shall
We Dance. And
they could sing it while dancing on roller skates! Now they're both
gone and all we have is Britney Spears dancing in her own sick while
she sings duets with her nasty Sarlacc vagina to the paparazzi. Oh
how I long for the golden days.
by Ella Fitzgerald and Louie Armstrong
song possibly be any better? Could there even be a duet greater than
this? You get Ella Fitzgerald, the greatest female vocalist to ever
walk the planet, paired with Louie Armstrong, who is easily in the
greatest Jazz entertainers short short list as well. This duet is
the musical equivalent of Leonardo DaVinci and Rembrandt painting
together (while Thomas Kinkade cries silently in the corner as the
effects of cyanide make his life slowly ebb away). Porgy and Bess
never sounded so good. If you don't like this song, you're likely a
Scientologist who's not allowed to feel real emotion. This is the
duet that duets dream about being when they sleep at night. This is
the song that's beaming through space and will get intercepted by
aliens who'll decide not to invade us because even a planet as
fucked up as ours is worth saving if it can produce beauty such as