The Top 30 Best Musical Duets of All Time

The Top 30 Best Musical Duets of All Time

jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG Tuesday 9th November 2021

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

And

TOP 30 OF THE DAY

The Top 30 best musical duets of all time

One great voice can make a song into a hit, but when two great voices team up, musical magic can be made. Coming from the genres of pop, rock, country and R & B, these are some of the best-selling and most memorable duets in music history.

  1. “Crazy in Love” – Beyoncé and Jay-Z

Listed at No. 3 on Rolling Stone’s top 100 best songs of the 2000s, Beyoncé’s 2003 song featuring Jay-Z became the only song to reach top spot on both the American and UK charts that year. Featuring an infectious horn riff, sampled from the 1970 Chi-Lites song “Are You My Woman (Tell Me So),” along with Beyoncé’s powerful vocals and Jay-Z’s impressive rap skills, the song had cross-genre appeal. It also reignited rumours about whether the hit duo were more than just friends, a fact that wasn’t actually confirmed until a year later.

  1. “Just Give Me a Reason” – Pink and Nate Ruess

This duet with fun. vocalist Nate Ruess, showcases Pink’s ability to belt out a line, and proves that pairing with another strong voice just lets hers shine even brighter. The song appeared on Pink’s 2012 album The Truth About Love and charted at No. 1 in the United States and reached No. 2 in the UK. They performed the song together at the 2014 Grammys where it was nominated for Song of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

  1. “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” – Elton John and Kiki Dee

They’ve performed it together live many times, but for the original recording of this chart-topping hit Elton John recorded his part in a Toronto studio, then sent it to London where singer Kiki Dee added her part. The memorable song was a stand-alone single not recorded as part of any album, and became John’s first No. 1 hit in the UK. John re-recorded the song with RuPaul for the 1993 album Duets.

  1. “Islands in the Stream” – Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton

First written by the Bee Gees as an R and B song, this classic duet paired country superstars Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. Bearing the same title as an Ernest Hemingway novel, the 1983 song was certified platinum in the U.S. for selling more than two million copies. Rogers told Peoplemagazine that he’d been working on the song with the Gibb brothers, but said it wasn’t working, and that’s when they suggested Dolly be brought in.

  1. “Promiscuous” – Nelly Furtado and Timbaland

Nelly Furtado said working with Timbaland on her third album, Loose, was “a super inspired time,” and the album’s biggest hit “Promiscuous” certainly showcased the fruits of their collaboration. The infectious and flirtatious 2006 song charted at No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 3 in the UK.

  1. “You’re the One That I Want” – John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John

The highest-grossing movie of 1978 also produced one of the most famous duets of all time, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John’s “You’re the One That I Want” from the musical Grease. The song was not in the original stage production of the show and was written specifically for the film. The duet ranked No. 1 in the U.S. and Britain, and became the UK’s fifth-biggest-selling single of all time.

  1. “Shallow” – Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper

The 2018 remake of A Star Is Born featured an emotional duet from its stars Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper that also became a No. 1 hit and won a 2019 Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Lady Gaga and the song’s co-writers, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt, reportedly took only four hours to pen the song. It’s become Gaga’s longest-leading No. 1 song on Billboard’s digital song sales chart.

  1. “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” – Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley

Singer Bill Medley, best known as one of the Righteous Brothers, reportedly had to be convinced to record the song for the soundtrack of the 1987 film Dirty Dancing. The fact that Jennifer Warnes was slated to be his duet partner is what finally sealed the deal. The song reached the Top 10 in the UK when the film was first released, and again in 1990 when the movie debuted on TV. The song also won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group.

  1. “Don’t Give Up” – Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush

When Peter Gabriel wrote this 1986 song, he didn’t intend it to be a duet, but changed the lyrics later so it made sense to be performed with a female vocalist. The duet went on to be a hit in Gabriel’s native UK, but Bush wasn’t his first choice for singing partner. Gabriel originally approached Dolly Parton to collaborate on the song, but the country legend turned him down.

  1. “Girl from the North Country” – Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash

Originally recorded by Dylan for his 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, the track was re-released by the singer-songwriter as a duet with Johnny Cash six years later. Lamenting a lost love from the North Country, the song was reportedly made into a duet when the two performers wound up recording next door to one another, and decided to collaborate. After many songs from both of their repertoires were re-worked and ultimately rejected, Dylan and Cash liked how this one sounded.

  1. “Scream” – Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson

Co-written by siblings Michael and Janet Jackson, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, this energetic duet from Michael Jackson’s 1995 HIStory album reached No. 5 on the American charts, and No. 1 in Spain, Italy, and New Zealand. It was the first time the brother and sister superstars ever recorded together, and their memorable US$7 million video—the most expensive ever made—was ranked No. 9 on VH1’s list of the 100 Best Music Videos.

  1. “Beauty and the Beast” – Céline Dion and Peabo Bryson

The title track of the 1991 animated Disney classic is sung by Mrs. Potts in the movie, but became a certified hit when released as a duet by Céline Dion and Peabo Bryson. Dion said collaborating on the song gave her career the “biggest boost” and also earned her the first of many Grammy wins. Singers Ariana Grande and John Legend covered the song for the 2017 live-action release of Beauty and the Beast.

  1. “Separate Lives” – Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin

This gut-wrenching duet about heartbreak is from the soundtrack of the 1985 film White Nights. Performed by ’80s hitmaker Phil Collins and well-known session singer Marilyn Martin, the ballad hit No. 1 on the American charts, and No. 4 in the UK. It was nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars, but lost out to Lionel Richie’s “Say You, Say Me” which was from the same movie soundtrack.

  1. “Dancing in the Street” – David Bowie and Mick Jagger

This cover of the 1964 Motown hit by Martha and the Vandellas began as a collaboration for the Live Aid charity, but went on to become a No. 1 hit in the UK and reach No. 7 on the American charts. David Bowie and Mick Jagger reportedly completed the song in a four-hour recording session, then immediately left to film the video. Bowie was in London while Jagger was in Philadelphia during the Live Aid concert, making a live rendition impossible, so the video was shown instead.

  1. “Up Where We Belong” – Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes

Written by Will Jennings, Jack Nitzsche and Buffy Sainte-Marie for the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman, this stirring ballad was performed by the complementary voices of Jennifer Warnes and Joe Cocker. The two singers were lauded for their on-stage chemistry when they performed the song live, but Warnes said in a 2018 interview that they didn’t really interact outside of the recording or performances. The song won an Oscar for Best Original Song and a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group.

  1. “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me” – George Michael and Aretha Franklin

Just before George Michael debuted his first solo album, and at a time when the Queen of Soul was undergoing her own resurgence in popularity, the singers teamed up for this energetic duet. Despite being a superstar in his own right, Michael said he was nervous to record with the legendary Franklin. When she joined him on stage to perform the song at a 1988 concert in Detroit, Michigan, the duet was so talked about that it made international news. The song was a No. 1 hit in the U.S. and the UK and won a Grammy for Best R and B Performance by a Duo or Group.

  1. “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” – Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty had collaborated on writing music prior to recording 1981’s “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” But when Nicks first heard the song, penned by Petty and his guitarist Mike Campbell, she immediately knew it’d be perfect for a duet. Nicks included the track on her debut solo album Bella Donna, and the video got plenty of airplay on MTV, which introduced a new generation of music fans to the voices of the two classic performers.

  1. “Unforgettable” – Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole

Father and daughter singers Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole began performing together when Natalie was just a child. A 1991 recording of “Unforgettable” became a posthumous hit for Nat, when Natalie re-recorded it and put their vocals together. The duet won for Song of the Year at that year’s Grammys, and a stirring performance featuring Natalie singing alongside a video of her late father was truly unforgettable.

  1. “Another Way to Die” – Jack White and Alicia Keys

There is a long legacy of great songs written for James Bond films, but the 2008 song “Another Way to Die” for the movie Quantum of Solace was the first Bond duet. Rock singer Jack White wrote the theme song and performed it with soul songstress Alicia Keys, and despite their different styles, both singers expressed that they had always wanted to collaborate on a project together.

  1. “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” – Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond

Originally written as a theme song for a television series that never made it to air, this 1978 duet is a kind of “torch song” featuring the classic voices of Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond. In a 2008 interview with Mojo, Diamond explained that both he and Streisand had recorded the song separately, but when radio DJs began to make their own mash-ups, the singers, who also attended the same high school, realized they needed to get back in the studio and record the duet. The song charted at No. 1 in the U.S. and was nominated for Song of the Year at the 1980 Grammys.

  1. “Somethin’ Stupid” – Frank Sinatra and Nancy Sinatra

Though the idea of a father and daughter recording a romantic duet does seem strange, if not a little creepy, the playful song performed by two of the most popular singers of their era became a hit with fans. It was so popular that it stayed at No. 1 on the U.S. charts for four weeks. Covers of the song have also been recorded by Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman, as well as Michael Bublé and Reese Witherspoon.

  1. “Say Say Say” – Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson

It’s one of three duets that the former Beatle and the King of Pop collaborated on together, the others being “The Girl Is Mine” and “The Man.” “Say Say Say” appeared on McCartney’s 1983 album Pipes of Peace and reached No. 1 in the U.S., and No. 2 on the UK charts. The artists had a falling out a few years later when Jackson purchased the rights to a song catalogue including 250 Beatles songs, but a remix of the song was still released in 2015, using alternate vocal takes from both singers.

  1. “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” – Eve and Gwen Stefani

Rapper Eve invited No Doubt lead vocalist Gwen Stefani to duet on this 2001 track from her album Scorpion. The catchy song, produced by Dr. Dre, won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video and the 2002 Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Eve later appeared on Stefani’s song “Rich Girl” from her 2004 solo album.

  1. “Ebony and Ivory” – Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder

Using piano keys as a symbol of racial harmony, Paul McCartney wrote the 1982 song for his Tug of War album before realizing that it would work better as a duet. He and Wonder met on the island of Montserrat to record the track. Despite being criticized by some reviewers for its “saccharine” tone, the song topped the charts in both the UK and the U.S., remaining No. 1 in America for seven weeks.

  1. “Endless Love” – Diana Ross and Lionel Richie

Billboard named this timeless duet, from the Endless Love film soundtrack, the No. 1 love song of all time. Written by Richie, at the request of film director Franco Zeffirelli, who also suggested he perform the song with Ross, the song was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe. Because of the singers’ busy schedules, it was difficult finding a time for them to record the track, but once they did get together it took less than two hours to complete the song.

  1. It Takes Two – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.

Gaye practically owned the duet format on Motown. He features on 13 of our 22 selections, with four different partners: Terrell, Kim Weston, Diana Ross, and Mary Wells, on such songs as “You Are Everything,” “Once Upon A Time” and “What Good Am I Without You.” But there’ve been plenty of other notable double-headers in Tamla history, as we note with the combination of the Ruffin brothers, David and Jimmy, and on to the 1980s pairings of Rick James and his protégée Teena Marie, and Johnny Gill with Stacy “Jump To The Beat” Lattisaw.

  1. Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing – Marvin Gaye And Tammi Terrell.
  2. You’re All I Need To Get By – Marvin Gaye And Tammi Terrell.

 

  1. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell.

 

  1. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – George Michael and Elton John.

 

REMEMBER: The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.

– Nicolas Chamfort

 

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE FOR THE DAY

 “Wake up with determination. Go to bed with satisfaction.”

HAPPINESS IS…

Happiness is…listening to a good duet track

GRANDAD’S ONE LINER JOKE OF THE DAY

Math Teacher: “If I have 5 bottles in one hand and 6 in the other hand, what do I have?” Student: “A drinking problem.”

LOVE IS…

Love is…singing as a duet

TURN…TURN…TURN!

A time to sing by yourself…A time to sing with someone else.

YOUR HISTORY

 

 

 

©2021 Phil M Robinson