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January 26, 2008 11:07 PM   Subscribe

The 25 Greatest Duets Of All Time (with embedded YouTube videos of each) from retroCRUSH. 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.
posted by amyms (67 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Duets, by nature, are a corny type of song. How sad that someone thinks that.
posted by QuietDesperation at 11:13 PM on January 26, 2008


Thanks amyms! This will be a handy resource -- my partner and I are big into karaoke duets, which usually end in screamaoke renditions with lots of dry humping and climbing on furniture.
posted by Extopalopaketle at 11:17 PM on January 26, 2008


Omigod. Jenna Fischer singing dirty. My life is complete.
posted by Rumple at 11:21 PM on January 26, 2008


Hey, they actually cover a fairly wide stylistic territory with this list.

But leaving out "Jackson" by Johnny Cash and June Carter? Inexcusable.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:22 PM on January 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm glad to see someone give love to "Candy," which I've always liked. And I haven't thought about "Stop Dragging My Heart Around" in years.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:32 PM on January 26, 2008


You just like it because June says "Jay-pan fan" - admit it.
posted by vronsky at 11:32 PM on January 26, 2008


Inexcusable.

Ditto for the absence of John Prine & Iris DeMent's "In Spite of Ourselves."
posted by gompa at 11:33 PM on January 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not suggesting it should be included in any "greatest" lists, but this rehearsal clip of Bob Dylan and George Harrison doing Dylan's "If Not For You" has historical interest, at the least.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:33 PM on January 26, 2008


I think they did a good job of choosing duets from different genres and eras, but I am shocked... shocked, I say!... that there is no Captain & Tennille or Donny & Marie represented. Or even Hall & Oates for that matter. I guess they were going for pairings of performers who weren't already known as duos (but, then again, that doesn't explain the inclusion of Ashford & Simpson).
posted by amyms at 11:35 PM on January 26, 2008


admit it.

Admitted.

And yeah, gompa, good call on the Prine/DeMent. That's a rare jewel, that one. I remember laughing out loud the first time I ever heard that hilarious little gem!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:36 PM on January 26, 2008


(but, then again, that doesn't explain the inclusion of Ashford & Simpson).

Nor Marvin and Tammi, who recorded enough sides together to be considered a duo act.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:38 PM on January 26, 2008


No "Closer I Get to You?" The Donny Hathaway/Roberta Flack song.

Also: "You're The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly," by Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn, not to mention "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man."

Then there's "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys."

Finally, Carla only taunts the man who sings in this song, but I would include Otis Redding and Carla Thomas' "Tramp" in my list anyway, just because it's so damn great.
posted by raysmj at 11:46 PM on January 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I was thinking, "Hey, what about the Everly Brothers? Or the Louvin Brothers? Or..." but then figured out it was about (sorta) separate performers coming together, amyms. That would do away with George Jones and Tammy Wynette's "Golden Ring" (which, for my money, is better than Johnny and June--sorry f@m, I love Johnny Cash, but "Golden Ring"'s a much better song). Also, I don't know if it's inexcusable, but what about Gram and Emmylou's "Love Hurts" (horrible photo montage ahoy--sorry). There's a ton of great country and soul duets that could have at least taken the place of the Walk Hard tie-in.

It was great to think about those, though. Thanks for the post!
posted by sleepy pete at 11:54 PM on January 26, 2008


Duets were big in Iran back in the 70's.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:02 AM on January 27, 2008


Wow sleepy pete... I have that very same George and Tammy clip pulled up in another tab and was about to post it.

And the slapping scene in that Dewey Cox Story clip almost made me want to see the movie.

Almost.

Also I'm surprised Aaron Neville And Linda Rondstadt "I Don't Know Much" didn't make it, as it is almost the epitome of a modern duet.

However, it IS inexcusable to have missed the Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole "Unforgettable" posthumous compilation. It would have fit their presentation perfectly.
posted by Ynoxas at 12:07 AM on January 27, 2008


but "Golden Ring"'s a much better song

I too think Golden Ring is a fine song, but I'm just curious as to how one defines "much better" in a context like this. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to pick a fight, or say I have better taste than you, or anything like that. But I really am curious: how, by what criterion, is one better than the other? Cause to me they're so very different! Golden Ring has that tear-jerker quality, very sentimental. Jackson is a fire-spitting, rollicking marital spat, set to music. They both seem very successful in the sense that they each do what they set out to do, on their own respective terms.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:21 AM on January 27, 2008


Joan Baez provides just about the most perfect harmony vocalizing you could imagine for Dylan on this duet version of Blowing in the Wind from Rolling Thunder.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:41 AM on January 27, 2008


There were a lot of great songs on that list! But where's "I Got You Babe?" And what about "Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong?" Come on! They are karaoke-licious.

Oh yeah, and this duet with Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop singing "Well Did You Evah" is swelegant.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:07 AM on January 27, 2008


Here's a little more variety, away from the pop scene...this is all very good music.
posted by MetaMan at 1:24 AM on January 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


So many great duets out there, it seems impossible to compile a list. Natalie Cole, Jobim & Regina's "Aguas de Marco", anything with Holliday and Armstrong...
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:26 AM on January 27, 2008


However, it IS inexcusable to have missed the Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole "Unforgettable" posthumous compilation. It would have fit their presentation perfectly.

When I saw the words Inexcusable in this thread, I specifically thought of that abomination and figured someone had just made a bad pun about it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:30 AM on January 27, 2008


I'm just curious as to how one defines "much better" in a context like this...

Heh, I knew someone would bring that up and I almost deleted. But, since you asked, here goes my entirely subjective view at 1:30 am of why it's a better song:

1. The fact that Johnny and June smile the entire time the sing the song "Jackson" every time I've ever seen them do it always makes me not believe the story.

2. The story's a little more quaint since basically they're both going to Jackson to do it up. They dream of "Jackson" since they got married (escaping stasis), but in the end, it's just an argument and they'll both go together.

3. "Golden Ring"'s story unfolds slowly: pawn shop ring bought with love, two losers* come together, two losers are still losers and can't make it work, in the end the ring is back in a pawn shop for another couple of people.

4. The fact that Tammy Wynette never seems to be able to keep from blushing during the part where she throws down the ring.

5. The gear shift in the middle.

6. The ending chord.

*Losers is used lovingly.

Also, I'd say Jackson isn't really as much of a marital spat (it is, but hold on) as, say, 50% of Rumours by Fleetwood Mac is, specifically things like "Go Your Own Way" and "The Chain," but that's neither here nor there.

I also don't think I've ever really thought of "Golden Ring" as sentimental. I guess it is, but I've always just thought of it as another in a long line of stoic people writing songs about heartache.
posted by sleepy pete at 1:49 AM on January 27, 2008


If I could sing a duet it would be this one, and I'm a guy.
posted by Rumple at 1:58 AM on January 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


the duo seraphim from claudio monteverdi's vespers of 1610.
posted by bruce at 2:10 AM on January 27, 2008


You just like it because June says "Jay-pan fan" ...

Actually it's her growl I dig.

As did most of the boys in Folsom Prison.
posted by bwg at 2:11 AM on January 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Blah blah shock blah blah outrage blah blah this piece where Mark Knopfler and James Taylor perform an awesome song about two surveyors settling a real estate dispute.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:12 AM on January 27, 2008


I love the True Love one - it was the second one I thought of.

The first was Love Hurts, as Sleepy Pete already said.

How about Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves?
posted by emf at 2:17 AM on January 27, 2008


I had absolutely no idea that Strummer cover of 'Redemption Song' was originally a duet with Johnny Cash. Pretty fucking awesome if it's true.
posted by Football Bat at 2:34 AM on January 27, 2008


No "Time of My Life"? Rly? Psh.
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:56 AM on January 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


I still prefer the Lee Hazelwood/Nancy Sinatra version of Jackson to June and Johnny's, but one should have been on there.

Also:

Jay-Z and Biggie Smalls, nigga shit your drawers.
(Where you from?) Brooklyn going out to y'all.
(Marcy) And we don't stop
(Bed Sty) And we won't stop
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:57 AM on January 27, 2008


Fun post, amyms - thanks. Also loving all the nominations for songs that didn't make the list.

I nominate an entire album - Rhythm and Country Blues - if you don't have it or have never heard of it, run don't walk to get your copy. Pairings of Al Green/Lyle Lovett, Patti LaBelle/Travis Tritt, Aaron Neville/Trisha Yearwood, Chet Atkins/Allen Toussaint, George Jones/B.B. King and more ... fabulous & fun, can't rave about it enough.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:18 AM on January 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


epic omission
posted by parallax7d at 5:27 AM on January 27, 2008


Seriously, how can a song with Mark Lanegan and PJ Harvey together not make it onto a best duets list? Potentially even the PJ Harvey/Nick Cave track too.
posted by opsin at 5:27 AM on January 27, 2008


whoops, this is the correct link
posted by parallax7d at 5:31 AM on January 27, 2008


This has to be one of my all time favourite duets:

Leslie Hall and some random guy at the Grand Ole Opry Food Court sing Islands in the Stream.

Poor guy looks terrified. 'What the hell have I gotten myself into? She's obviously a psychotic nymphomaniac. Stay out of my personal space, woman!'
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:31 AM on January 27, 2008


"um, hello?"...simon and garfunkel
posted by kitchenrat at 6:32 AM on January 27, 2008


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.

Me too.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:06 AM on January 27, 2008


For better or for whatever I was really expecting Paradise by the Dashboard Lights.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:10 AM on January 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't see Lemmy & Wendy O. Williams version of 'Stand By Your Man,' so I can't take it seriously.
posted by jonmc at 7:21 AM on January 27, 2008


Not to mention Lemmy & Kelly Johnson (RIP sexy metal babe) on this Johnny Kidd & The Pirates' classic (bonus of great dance moves from Philthy)
posted by jonmc at 7:24 AM on January 27, 2008


I count myself pretty damn lucky I got to see Roy Khan and Simone Simons doing this together live.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:27 AM on January 27, 2008


That may exceed your personal leather and/or mascara tolerance levels, but god damn that's a solid song.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:30 AM on January 27, 2008


Seriously, how can a song with Mark Lanegan and PJ Harvey together not make it onto a best duets list? Potentially even the PJ Harvey/Nick Cave track too.

What, PJ's excellent duet with Thom Yorke doesn't measure up for you? Apologies for the weird Russian experimentalist video.
posted by kittyprecious at 7:30 AM on January 27, 2008


They forgot the ultimate in cheesy duets.. "Almost Paradise" by Mike Reno and Nancy Wilson.

(i might add that the girls from Heart are still pretty spiffy.)
posted by drstein at 7:58 AM on January 27, 2008


When I saw the words Inexcusable in this thread, I specifically thought of that abomination and figured someone had just made a bad pun about it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:30 AM on January 27


I'm not saying I believe it is one of the best 25 duets ever, but it definitely would have fit in with the style of that post.

The jokes almost write themselves.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:02 AM on January 27, 2008


I might've included Louie Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald's "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)." Or Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. doing "Me and My Shadow."

Strictly speaking, Louis Armstrong and Johnny Cash, "Blue Yodel No. 9" isn't a duet, but it's badass.

"Tramp"
posted by kirkaracha at 8:04 AM on January 27, 2008


Kirkkaracha beat me to it - that is an omission that is truly criminal. And Robert Plant & Alison Krauss have now taken this form to the next level. Pwned.
posted by Ber at 8:43 AM on January 27, 2008


Holy smokes, I was completely unaware of the existence of "World Destruction" by John Lydon and Afrika Bambaataa. Great slice of vintage "Reagan's 80s" nuclear paranoia.
posted by porn in the woods at 9:17 AM on January 27, 2008


Warren Zevon and Bruce Springsteen -- Disorder in the House
Bruce Springsteen and Lionel Richie -- We Are the World
Lionel Richie and Diana Ross -- Endless Love
Diana Ross and Michael Jackson -- Eaten Alive
Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury -- State of Shock
Freddie Mercury and David Bowie -- Under Pressure
David Bowie and Mick Jagger -- Dancing In The Street
Mick Jagger and David Bowie -- Dancing In The Street
David Bowie and Annie Lennox -- Under Pressure
Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin -- Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves
Aretha Franklin and Clarence Clemons -- Freeway of Love
Clarence Clemons and Jackson Browne -- You're a Friend of Mine
Jackson Browne and Stevie Wonder -- Sun City
Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson -- Just Good Friends
Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney -- Say, Say, Say
Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton -- Something
Eric Clapton and George Harrison -- While My Guitar Gently Weeps
George Harrison and Bob Dylan -- Wilbury Twist
Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris -- Sara
Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton -- To Know Him Is to Love Him
Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers -- Love Is Strange
Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton -- We've Got Tonight
Sheena Easton and Prince -- U Got the Look
Prince and Tom Petty While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Tom Petty and Bob Dylan -- License to Kill
Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson -- Pancho and Lefty
Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias -- To All the Girls I've Loved Before
Julio Iglesias and Diana Ross All of You
Diana Ross and Barry Gibb -- Chain Reaction
Barry Gibb and Barbara Streisand -- Guilty
Barbara Streisand and Don Johnson -- Til I Loved You
posted by flarbuse at 9:37 AM on January 27, 2008 [11 favorites]


Another cheesy duet from one of my guilty pleasure movies. Duets.
posted by Bonzai at 9:51 AM on January 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sparks and Jane Wiedlin - Cool Places
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:13 AM on January 27, 2008


Close My Eyes Forever by Ozzy and Lita.
posted by Demogorgon at 10:22 AM on January 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Because, where do you go from Don Johnson?
posted by waraw at 12:11 PM on January 27, 2008


Duets are certainly a guilty pleasure of mine...but this list is missing some of the male-female karaoke greats, like "I Got You Babe" and "Leather and Lace."
posted by emd3737 at 12:25 PM on January 27, 2008


I'm sitting here twitching. I spent four years as a country radio DJ from 1990-1994. That "Islands in the Stream" duet was one of the songs I heard over, and over, and over, and over....

it's still good though.
posted by mrbill at 12:59 PM on January 27, 2008


I like this post a lot.
posted by Cyrano at 1:10 PM on January 27, 2008


Oh wow - I thought at first that the Kenny/Dolly duet was lip-synched, but as they get farther in, it's obvious that it's live. I couldn't tell at first that it wasn't the recorded version - that's real vocal talent.
posted by mrbill at 1:29 PM on January 27, 2008


That's a pretty good list really.
posted by stinkycheese at 3:10 PM on January 27, 2008


Without Reunited, this list is a heaping helping of fail.
posted by evilcolonel at 3:22 PM on January 27, 2008


"Sun City" wasn't a duet, flarbuse.
posted by litlnemo at 5:29 PM on January 27, 2008


Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway - Where is the Love
Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway - The Closer I Get to You
Captain and Tennille - Love Will Keep Us Together

I can't find it, but Andy Bell and kd lang's remake of "No More Tears (Enough is Enough) is a fun listen.
posted by ltracey at 5:52 PM on January 27, 2008


i'd have to agree with the #1 choice of ella fitzgerald and louis armstrong.
posted by brandz at 6:24 PM on January 27, 2008




what, no "paradise by the dashboard light" by meatloaf????
posted by randomstriker at 10:05 PM on January 27, 2008


Luciano Pavarotti and James Brown It's a Man's World
posted by hangingbyathread at 10:08 PM on January 27, 2008




Kickin it old skool: O terra addio. Snoop and Dre could never keep it real enough to rap themselves to death in a sealed tomb.
posted by turbodog at 12:06 PM on January 28, 2008


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