According to Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston, it takes two.
Which is a bit of shame for me … as a solo performer I rarely get to play duets. I’ve got a soft spot for the good ones though – from classics by Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald through to recent efforts by Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett.
Here are my 10 favourite duets!
10. Eternal & Bebe Winans – I Wanna Be The Only One
A perfect slice of pop from the 90s girl band and gospel singer Bebe Winans. £10 to anyone who can listen to this without singing along the “yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah” backing vocals.
9. Meatloaf & Cher – Dead Ringer For Love
Meatloaf remains one of my guiltiest pleasures, and this song is a full-blown, scream-your-lungs-out-whilst-driving-down-the-motorway classic.
8. Lionel Richie & Diana Ross – Endless Love
No respectable list of duets would be complete without one of Richie’s best-known ballads. The more-recent duet with Shania Twain doesn’t hold a candle to the original. And don’t even get me started on the Mariah Carey version…
7. Aretha Franklin & George Michael – I Knew You Were Waiting For Me
Following some Olympics closing-ceremony weirdness and Snappy-Snaps antics, it’s easy to forget that George used to be known for crafting seriously awesome pop music. This is one of his best, made even sweeter by the Aretha’s powerhouse vocals.
6. Jennifer Warnes & Bill Medley – (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life
A staple ingredient of school leavers discos and weddings the world over, the unofficial theme from 1987’s Dirty Dancing still hits the spot. Hands-up who didn’t expect Bill Medley to look like that!
5. Sonny & Cher – I Got You Babe
Proof that, at the heart of it, the simplest melodies still make the best songs. Extra points of course if you add a cheeky oboe hook in the chorus.
4. Shane MacGowan & Kirsty McCall – Fairytale of New York
The perfect antidote to Christmas schmaltz – Shane’s toothless slurs mixed with Kirsty’s sweet (yet angry) delivery. Fairytale of New York will probably make the list of songs that most people think they know all the words to.
3. Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Summertime
Pure class from two voices that could melt a polar icecap.
2. Lauryn Hill & Bob Marley – Turn Your Lights Down Low
Lauryn Hill’s reworking of Bob Marley’s 1977 ‘Exodus’ ballad exemplifies that rarest of things- an improvement on an original. Curiously, Hill is now married to Marley’s son Rohan.
1. David Bowie & Freddie Mercury – Under Pressure
Some of the best duets are the ones you least expect. Bowie and Mercury are worlds apart both in terms of range and style, but this just works. And what’s not to love? The addictive baseline, Bowie’s haunting delivery (who else could sing “it’s the terror of knowing what this world is about” so convincingly?), Freddie’s “de-de-dee-do-dehs”….this is surely the perfect duet.
If the duet you love best isn’t here, drop me a comment in the box below!