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15 Famous Duets Through History: The Good, The Bad & The Weird

famous duets

Photo credit: PR Photos

Early last week, John Mayer made headlines when he released “Who You Love,” a sweet little ditty featuring Katy Perry. The two have been dating on and off for about a year now, but this lovey-dovey duet makes it seem like they must be “on” for good now. After some genuinely intimate lyrics, the song ends with what Perry herself refers to as a “love giggle.” That has to make the relationship officially official, right?

In similar, albeit less romantic news, Lady Gaga and Cher’s collaboration track, “The Greatest Thing,” was prematurely leaked last week. Cher was furious on Twitter, supporting Lady Gaga while slamming whoever was responsible for the ordeal. The song is nowhere to be found now (thanks, Cher!), but here’s hoping it ends up being as glossy and fabulous as you’d expect it to be.

These recent pairings are just a drop in the bucket of duets the music industry has cranked out over the years. Nowadays, collaborations are about as common as wardrobe malfunctions. In fact, 4 out of 10 songs currently topping the Billboard charts (when this post was written) are by Performer A “featuring” Performer B.

For better or worse, there’s one fact you can’t deny — two voices are certainly more memorable than one! Let’s look back at 15 of the most famous duets, sung by some of history’s greatest performers.

15 Famous Duets Through History: The Good, The Bad & The Weird:

  • 15 of the Most Famous Duets 1 of 16
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    From Sonny and Cher to Elton and Eminem, check out 15 of music's most famous duets — the good, the bad, and the weird!

  • I Got You Babe 2 of 16
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    It's hard to think of the word "duet" without immediately thinking of Sonny and Cher. They were the face of free love and counterculture in the '60s, and "I Got You Babe" was undeniably their biggest hit. The song continues to live on today through countless pop culture references (Groundhog Day, anyone?) and karaoke performances everywhere.
    Listen to "I Got You Babe" here

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

  • Walk This Way 3 of 16
    run-dmc-walk-this-way-edit-london

    When it was first suggested that the hip hop group Run-D.M.C. cover Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" back in 1986, people were skeptical — including the artists themselves. However, the song ended up completely revolutionizing the music world. Not only did it revive Aerosmith's career and cement Run-D.M.C.'s crossover status, but it paved the way for future artists to totally break down the walls that had once separated genres.
    Listen to "Walk This Way" here

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

  • Me Against the Music 4 of 16
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    A collaboration between Britney Spears and Madonna, the princess and queen of pop, could have and should have been amazing. And while "Me Against the Music" is an undeniably fun dance number, it is far from amazing. Aside from the catchy chorus, the entire song has been called lackluster and forgettable. Maybe the blonde twosome will give the whole duet thing another (better) try in the future? Here's hoping...
    Listen to "Me Against the Music" here

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

  • Ain’t No Mountain High Enough 5 of 16
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    Can you imagine a world without "Ain't No Mountain High Enough?" I mean, what would girls sing into their hairbrushes at slumber parties without it? Although there are tons of great versions of this tune, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell first made it famous back in 1967. Today, it is considered to be one of the most important records ever released by Motown.
    Listen to "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" here

    Photo credit: Amazon

  • Unforgettable 6 of 16
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    Natalie Cole's decision to sing a duet with her deceased father MUST have raised a couple of eyebrows at first. The idea behind her remix of "Unforgettable" is admittedly weird, although it luckily proved to be a beautiful and touching tribute to Nat King Cole. The song swept the 1992 Grammys, winning both Song of the Year and Record of the Year.
    Listen to "Unforgettable" here

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

  • Ebony and Ivory 7 of 16
    A.-Front8

    "Ebony and Ivory" proves that two independently awesome performers do not necessarily create awesome duets. Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney joined forces in 1982 to sing about racial equality, using piano keys as a metaphor (GET IT?!). Despite its mind-blowing commercial success, the song is often dubbed the worst duet of all time. At least their hearts were in the right place.
    Listen to "Ebony and Ivory" here

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

  • (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life 8 of 16
    Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 10.28.45 PM

    You cannot hear the opening notes of "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" without picturing Patrick Swayze walking out on that stage towards Jennifer Grey. It's just a fact. The infectious song, sung by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, is practically as famous as Dirty Dancing itself. After the movie's release in 1987, the tune went on to become one of the most played songs EVER on the radio.
    Listen to "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" here

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

  • Stan 9 of 16
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    Eminem's performance of "Stan" at the 2001 Grammys is hard to forget. At the time, the rapper's lyrics were consistently criticized for being too homophobic, so imagine everyone's surprise when Elton John suddenly appeared on stage to sing the song's chorus. Political implications aside, this seemingly bizarre duet ended up being one of the coolest, most memorable acts in Grammy history.
    Listen to "Stan" here

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

  • Jackson 10 of 16
    ZIK765815.1336680892.580x580

    Johnny Cash and June Carter are perhaps just as ubiquitous of a musical pairing as Sonny and Cher. The country-lovin' couple performed many songs together, the most famous being "Jackson" in 1967. The song may be about a couple dealing with the lack of fire in their relationship, but the chemistry between Cash and Carter is undeniable. The couple finally got married one year after the song's release.
    Listen to "Jackson" here

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

  • Under Pressure 11 of 16
    Underpressure1999

    This iconic song, which features one of the most famous bass lines of all time, was actually something of an accident. Queen and David Bowie were in the studio together in 1981 to record an entirely different song (which was never released). "Under Pressure" evolved from a jam session and has been a rock staple ever since. While Freddy Mercury and Bowie never actually sang the song together live, Queen performed it at every single one of their concerts until 1986.
    Listen to "Under Pressure" here

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

  • Endless Love 12 of 16
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    Diana Ross and Lionel Richie are two of the most successful artists of all time, and "Endless Love" continues to be the biggest-selling single of both of their careers. The song reached the top of the charts in 1981, and it remained there for a staggeringly long time. Yes, it's simple and more than a little cheesy, but the world needs some saccharine melodies every once in a while.
    Listen to "Endless Love" here

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

  • Sisters are Doin’ It for Themselves 13 of 16
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    Long before the Spice Girls got us all talking about "girl power," Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox sang about it in "Sisters are Doin' It for Themselves." The Eurythmics originally intended for Tina Turner to duet with them in 1985, but she was unavailable at the time, and Aretha stepped in. But can you really imagine anyone other than The Queen of Soul belting out those notes?
    Listen to "Sisters are Doin' It for Themselves" here

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

  • Crazy in Love 14 of 16
    K-1

    Once upon a time, a little diva named Beyoncé asked a little rapper named Jay-Z to contribute to a little song called "Crazy in Love." The musical world promptly exploded. This infectious single was praised by critics in 2003, and Jay-Z and Queen B have gone on to become the #1 power couple in music (sorry, LMFAO).
    Listen to "Crazy in Love" here

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

  • When You Believe 15 of 16
    Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 10.37.25 PM

    Would "When You Believe" be that big of a deal if it weren't backed by two of music's most talented (and notorious) divas? Probably not. The song works well as part of the Prince of Egypt soundtrack, but independently it's pretty sappy and contrived. Still, its list of awards is about as long as the Red Sea itself, including the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1999.
    Listen to "When You Believe" here

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

  • Gone Gone Gone 16 of 16
    raising-sand

    She's an angelic bluegrass darling with a soprano twang. He's a charismatic, flamboyant, shrieking rock legend. On paper, the combo of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant seems like a disaster waiting to happen. But in reality, the two have become one of the best odd-couple collaborations in recent history. Their album Raising Sand, featuring the incredible single "Gone Gone Gone," is often considered one of the best of the past decade.
    Listen to "Gone Gone Gone" here

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

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