As Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston once sang: “It Takes Two.” Indeed, a pairing of great talents can often lead to truly memorable (and highly profitable) results. Whether it’s a romantic ballad, a tandem melody, or complex, counterpart harmonies, the most successful duets find both artists supporting one another – allowing both parties to excel. From Motown to metal and pop to country, below are some of the best duets of all time.
72: YUNGBLUD ft. Machine Gun Kelly – Acting Like That (2020)
In 2019, British alt-rocker YUNGBLUD joined American rapper and rock artist Machine Gun Kelly for “I Think I’m OKAY” (off MGK’s Hotel Diablo). Since then, a well-documented friendship has developed between the two artists, spanning stages, studios, and plenty of bars on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2020, MGK and YUNGBLUD joined forces again for “Acting Like That,” off the British artist’s best-selling LP, Weird! The high-energy track also produced an inspired, pandemic-era music video, in which both artists fend off a zombie apocalypse in their respective cities.
71: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw – Let’s Make Love (2000)
At the turn of the millennium, country music power couple Faith Hill and Tim McGraw paired up for their third duet, “Let’s Make Love,” for Hill’s chart-topping crossover hit, Breathe. The piano-driven ballad not only landed in the Country Top Ten, but earned the husband and wife a Grammy Award in 2001. While Hill and McGraw have continued to perform on each other’s records over the last two decades, they finally released their first collaborative LP, The Rest of Our Life, in 2017.
70: Juice WRLD ft. Halsey – Life’s a Mess (2020)
“You just gotta learn to live and love on,” sings the late Juice WRLD in this poignant duet with Halsey. “Life’s a Mess” finds the duo (who previously collaborated in 2018 on Halsey’s “Without Me”) finding gratitude for their romantic partners while looking back on the difficulties that they’ve faced in life. The song – which appeared on the talented rapper’s record-breaking posthumous album, Legends Never Die – became a Top Ten hit in the US. Months later, an earlier version of the song was released, featuring Juice WRLD with Post Malone.
Click to load video
69: Lady A – Need You Now (2009)
A former couple realizes how much they miss one another in this multi-platinum crossover hit from country band Lady A. Performed by Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley, the emotive “Need You Now” achieved massive commercial and critical success – topping the Billboard Country chart for five weeks, peaking at No.2 on the Hot 100, and earning the group multiple ACM and Grammy Awards, among others.
68: The Righteous Brothers – (You’re My) Soul and Inspiration (1966)
In 1966, The Righteous Brothers (aka Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield) scored their second No.1 pop hit with “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration” – a lushly-arranged ballad written by the legendary songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, who also penned the group’s first chart-topper, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” While the duo had recently parted ways with producer Phil Spector, they worked with arranger Jack Nitzsche to recreate Spector’s popular “Wall of Sound” that defined many of their previous releases.
67: Dinah Washington & Brook Benton – A Rockin’ Good Way (To Mess Around and Fall in Love) (1960)
In 1960, legendary jazz vocalist Dinah Washington and R&B star Brook Benton paired up to record The Two of Us – an album that spawned not one but two chart-topping duets, including this peppy, orchestral number. When it came to success, there was certainly no messing around: “A Rockin’ Good Way” went straight to No.1 on the R&B charts, and peaked at No.7 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Click to load video
66: Britney Spears feat. Madonna – Me Against the Music (2003)
Pop fans around the globe were pinching themselves when Britney Spears paired up with Madonna for an iconic performance (and a kiss) at the 2003 MTV Music Awards. Months later, when they released the duet “Me Against the Music,” it was one of the most anticipated moments in pop music history. The dance track, which came about during rehearsals for the award show, marked Spears’ 10th charting single and Madonna’s 50th charting single, and truly proved the power of a cross-generational partnership.
65: Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera – Moves Like Jagger (2011)
This delectable 2011 dance-pop tune paired Maroon 5’s Adam Levine with his fellow judge on The Voice, Christina Aguilera. The duet finds Levine trying to impress Aguilera with his dancing skills, which he compares to the iconic moves of Rolling Stones frontman, Mick Jagger (the song’s melody also takes a cue from the Stones’ disco hit, “Miss You.”) One of the best-selling singles of all-time, “Moves Like Jagger” landed at the top of the charts in nearly 20 countries.
64: Isaac Hayes & David Porter – Ain’t That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One) (1972)
Long before Isaac Hayes was a larger-than-life music icon, he was one-half of a hit-making songwriting team with David Porter at Stax Records. While the pair didn’t write “Ain’t That Loving You” (a Homer Banks/Allen Jones song first recorded by Johnnie Taylor) the two old friends reunited in 1972, when Hayes was at the height of his fame, to cover this soul classic. Smooth as silk, this disco-era track finds the two men singing side by side in funky harmony.
Click to load video
63: James Morrison & Nelly Furtado – Broken Strings (2008)
Deeply moving (and yet surprisingly catchy) this duet between James Morrison and Nelly Furtado finds the two stars mourning the end of a relationship. Released in 2008, the song became Morrison’s biggest hit yet, peaking at No.2 on the UK pop charts and landing in the Top five across Europe. Months later, Morrison released a version with singer Ai for the Japanese edition of his album, Songs for You, Truths for Me.
62: Diane Schuur & José Feliciano – By Design (1985)
In 1985, Grammy Award-winning jazz artist Diane “Deedles” Schuur paired up with Latin star José Feliciano for several tracks on her delightfully-titled LP, Schuur Thing. The soaring, pop-forward duet “By Design” was a major success for the artists, and helped to make Schuur Thing a Top Ten hit on the Billboard 200.
61: The Captain & Tennille – Do That to Me One More Time (1979)
Captain & Tennille (aka real-life married couple “Captain” Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille) burst onto the scene in 1975 with one of soft rock’s most iconic duets, “Love Will Keep Us Together.” While they followed with a string of hits over the next five years, they closed out the decade with one of their most successful tracks, “Do That to Me One More Time.” The suggestive tune, penned by Tennille, marked the duo’s second No.1 hit on the US pop charts, as well as their highest-charting song in the UK. It was so popular, in fact, that the duo recorded a Spanish version of the song, “Amame Una Vez Mas.”
60: Don Williams & Emmylou Harris – If I Needed You (1981)
This sweet, acoustic duet brought together Country Hall of Famer Don Williams with Americana star Emmylou Harris, who covered the Townes Van Zandt tune on her 1981 LP, Cimarron. The song not only earned the duo multiple nominations at the ACM, CMA, and GRAMMY Awards but also was a No.3 hit on the Billboard Country charts and a No.1 Country hit in Canada.
59: Kenny Rogers & Kim Carnes – Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer (1980)
A year before Kim Carnes became a chart-topping star with “Bette Davis Eyes,” she was an in-demand songwriter who had worked with some of the industry’s biggest acts. In 1980, country star Kenny Rogers hired Carnes to help him write his next project – a concept album revolving around a cowboy, titled Gideon. The LP’s sole single, “Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer,” became a crossover hit, landing at No.4 on the Billboard Hot 100, topping the Canadian country chart, and helping to make Carnes a household name.
Click to load video
58: The Mamas & The Papas – Dream a Little Dream of Me (1968)
The Mamas & The Papas frequently covered this 1931 pop standard during their live shows and chose to include it in their fourth studio album (1968’s The Papas & the Mamas), with “Mama” Cass Elliot on lead vocals. The resulting song (which became a Top 20 hit in the UK and US) was decidedly dreamy, with a touch of vintage flair. In an interview with Melody Maker, Cass shared that she “tried to sing it like it was 1943 and somebody had just come in and said, ‘Here’s a new song.’ I tried to sing it as if it were the first time.”
57: Bing Crosby & Louis Armstrong – Gone Fishin’ (1951)
Originally recorded as a one-off performance for Bing Crosby’s radio show, “Gone Fishin’” with Louis Armstrong was so well-received by audiences that it was released as a single in 1951. The droll duet, which finds two pals calling each other out for escaping life’s obligations for a day of fishing, went on to become a Top 20 hit.
56: Fred Astaire & Jack Buchanan – I Guess I Have To Change My Plans (1953)
In the 1953 musical The Band Wagon, Fred Astaire and Jack Buchanan don tuxedos and top hats for a charming duet of “I Guess I Have to Change My Plans.” The ballad, which was first used in the 1929 Broadway revue, The Little Show, is about a man discovering that the woman he admired is spoken for. Astaire and Buchanan’s version, meanwhile, slightly changed the meaning of the song – making it from the point of view of two competing suitors. The tune, which has since become a pop standard, would go on to be featured in a variety of films, and covered by numerous artists.
55: George Jones & Tammy Wynette – Cryin’ Time (1976)
Fiction met reality in this 1976 duet, which paired recently-divorced country stars, George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Written by Buck Owens, the sorrowful break-up song appeared on the former couple’s chart-topping seventh studio album, Golden Ring. In a twist of fate, however, the album was so successful that the two artists continued to work together for the rest of the decade, despite their particularly contentious divorce.
54: Elton John & Kiki Dee – Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (1976)
It’s impossible not to smile when you hear “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” the playful, 1976 duet from Elton John and Kiki Dee. The Ivor Novello-winning song, which marked the first UK No.1 for both artists, was written as a hat-tip to the classic Motown-era duets by John and his longtime collaborator, Bernie Taupin (under the pseudonyms “Ann Orson” and “Carte Blanche”).
Click to load video
53: Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash – Jackson (1967)
In this Billy Edd Wheeler/Jerry Leiber song, a husband fantasizes about going to the unspecified city of “Jackson,” where he’ll get into all sorts of trouble. His wife, meanwhile, has a more realistic view of what will happen. In 1967, real-life married couple Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash turned the tune into a Grammy-winning country hit, while just a few months later, Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood offered their own rendition. Although it’s still unclear where this mythical “Jackson” is…the song is decidedly a classic.
52: Lady Gaga & Beyonce – Telephone (2010)
While it’s hard to imagine “Telephone” being performed by anyone other than Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, the Gaga-penned global hit was actually intended for Britney Spears. Although Spears certainly would have made it her own, Queen Bey and Gaga poured their star power into the dance-pop tune to make it an epic hit, complete with a nine-and-a-half-minute short film/music video.
51: Joe Pizzulo & Leeza Miller – Never Gonna Let You Go (1983)
When Brazilian bandleader Sergio Mendes was in search of a ballad to add to his 1983 self-titled album, he turned to the celebrated husband-and-wife songwriting duo of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, whose “Never Gonna Let You Go” hit the spot. Mendes enlisted singers Joe Pizzulo and Leeza Miller to perform the soaring tune and wrote a complex arrangement of chord progressions to accompany them. Released as a single that spring, “Never Gonna Let You Go” spent four weeks at the top of the Adult Contemporary chart in the US, and became a massive hit in Brazil, among other territories. Today, it remains one of Mendes’ most successful songs.
50: Paul Young & Zucchero – Senza una donna (Without a Woman) (1991)
In 1991, the popular Italian singer-songwriter Zucchero paired up with British artist Paul Young for an English-language version of his song “Senza una donna (Without a Woman).” Not only did the bluesy ballad introduce Zucchero to an American audience, but it made the singer an international star, topping the charts in several European countries and landing in the Top 10 in Korea, the UK, and Brazil, among other territories.
49: Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen – Good Time (2012)
In 2012, Owl City (the electronica project of singer-songwriter Adam Young) and Carly Rae Jepsen partnered for the anthem of the summer – the aptly named “Good Time.” The joyful, high-energy dance track reverberated on beaches and in clubs across the globe – hitting No.1 in South Korea, Canada, and New Zealand, among other territories.
Click to load video
48: Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris – Love Hurts (1974)
When Gram Parsons embarked on a solo career, following the dissolution of the Flying Burrito Brothers, one of his first tasks was finding a female collaborator. His former bandmate, Chris Hillman, recommended a rising country singer named Emmylou Harris. While their time together was brief (cut short by Parsons’ untimely death in 1973), they produced a variety of incredible songs together – and plenty of sweet harmonies, as heard in this incredible cover of “Love Hurts,” which appeared on Parsons’ posthumous Grievous Angel. Harris, meanwhile, would go on to dominate the Americana scene and become a celebrated artist in her own right.
47: Ray Charles & Willie Nelson – Seven Spanish Angels (1984)
In 1962, R&B and jazz singer-songwriter Ray Charles expanded his range with the hugely popular Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. 22 years later, he revisited the genre on Friendship, which found him partnering with country music’s biggest stars. Among the album’s highlights was “Seven Spanish Angels” with Willie Nelson, which tells the dramatic tale of an outlaw and his girlfriend. The song hit No.1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and became Charles’ most successful hit in the genre.
46: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Please Read the Letter (2007)
When Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant partnered with bluegrass star Alison Krauss for a duet album (2007’s Raising Sand), many were surprised at the unlikely pairing. The results, however, were magical, earning the pair universal acclaim and countless awards. Their yearning, melancholic rendition of “Please Read the Letter” (Plant’s 1998 duet with his former bandmate, Jimmy Page) was one of the album’s standout tracks and was later named Record of the Year at the Grammys.
45: Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello – Señorita (2019)
While “Señorita” wasn’t Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello’s first duet together (2015’s “I Know What You Did Last Summer” was), the steamy duet did spark a romance between the real-life couple. The song, which appeared on Mendes’ 2018 self-titled album and Cabello’s Romance LP (2019), became one of the hottest songs of the summer, hitting No.1 in over 35 countries: from the US to Brazil and China to Russia.
44: Frank & Nancy Sinatra – Somethin’ Stupid (1967)
The first-and-only father-daughter duet to hit No.1 in the US, Frank and Nancy Sinatra’s rendition of “Somethin’ Stupid” became a massive hit for both generations of the talented family in 1967. While the song (penned by folk artist Carson Parks) raised a few eyebrows with its romantic lyrics, the Sinatras had the last laugh – earning a gold record and a Grammy nod for their endearing performance.
Click to load video
43: Bryan Adams & Melanie Chisholm – When You’re Gone (1998)
Bryan Adams and Mel C. (aka Sporty Spice) capture that feeling of realizing how much you care about a significant other when they’re not with you in this 1998 single. The catchy duet appeared on Adams’ eighth studio album, On a Day Like Today, and became a Top Ten hit across the UK, Europe, Canada, and Australia.
42: Stevie Nicks & Don Henley – Leather And Lace (1981)
While Stevie Nicks originally wrote “Leather and Lace” for Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter’s album of the same name, the song never made it to the LP. Instead, Nicks (who was still a member of Fleetwood Mac) recorded the ballad with her then-boyfriend, Don Henley (who had recently departed the Eagles), for her solo debut, Bella Donna. The tender song peaked at No.6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and helped to secure both Nicks and Henley as bona fide solo stars.
41: Marvin Gaye & Diana Ross – Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart) (1974)
In the early 70s, Motown artists Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross were two of music’s biggest stars, so it was a natural move when the label paired them up for a duet album. 1973’s Diana & Marvin spawned several singles, including a cover of the soulful ballad, “Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)” – first made famous by the Stylistics. Featuring heartfelt performances by both artists, the song was released as a single in the UK, where it became a Top 40 hit.
Click to load video
40: The Everly Brothers – Cathy’s Clown (1960)
In the mid-50s, brothers Don and Phil Everly rose to fame with their country-influenced rock’n’roll duets, including hits like “Bye Bye Love,” All I Have to Do Is Dream,” and “Wake Up Little Susie.” But their biggest hit was 1960’s “Cathy’s Clown,” which tells the tale of a man who is played by his girlfriend. The unusually structured song – which opens with a chorus and has no actual verses – went on to influence some of music’s biggest pop acts (including the Beatles) was later added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.
39: Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes – Up Where We Belong (1982)
Written as the theme to 1982’s An Officer and a Gentleman by celebrated songwriters Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Will Jennings, this soaring, romantic duet between Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes (who later went on to record Dirty Dancing’s hit theme song) was a defining song of the decade. The platinum-certified hit landed at the top of the pop charts in the US, Australia, and South Africa, among other territories, and went on to win a Grammy, an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe.
38: Colbie Caillat & Gavin DeGraw – We Both Know (2013)
In 2013, Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw wrote this poignant duet for the romantic thriller, Safe Haven. Mirroring the love story between the film’s main characters, Caillat and DeGraw’s song captures the feelings of two people who are trying to move forward while letting go of difficult moments in their pasts.
37: Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond – You Don’t Bring Me Flowers (1978)
This classic duet is the result of, quite possibly, one of the very first memes. In the mid-70s, Neil Diamond wrote “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” as the theme song to a TV show called All that Glitters. While the song was never used on the show, Diamond recorded it for his 1977 LP, “I’m Glad You’re Here with Me Tonight.” One year later, Barbara Streisand covered the song on her album, Songbird. That inspired a DJ to edit together his own version of a “duet” between the two stars. What began as a one-off bit turned into a craze across the country, inspiring countless other stations to do the same. Finally, Streisand and Diamond recorded a proper duet of the song, much to the delight of fans. Released in October 1978, the platinum-selling “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore” went to No.1, and resulted in a must-see live performance by the pair at the 1980 Grammys.
36: Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello – I Know What You Did Last Summer (2015)
Long before they became a couple, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello paired up for this 2015 duet. The dramatic song was written during a backstage jam session, when Mendes was on tour with Taylor Swift and Cabello, along with Fifth Harmony, visited for a guest performance. The Top 20 hit marked Cabello’s debut single as a solo artist, as well as the lead single off Mendes’ Handwritten Revisited.
Click to load video
35: Janet Jackson & Michael Jackson – Scream (1995)
It’s unique when two of music’s biggest stars happen to come from the same family…and when they pair up for a single, it’s an event. That’s what happened when siblings Michael and Janet Jackson got together for 1995’s “Scream.” Written by the pair, alongside the hitmaking team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the hard-driving song found the Jacksons firing back at the tabloid media.
34: Luther Vandross and Cheryl Lynn – If This World Were Mine (1982)
In 1967, Marvin Gaye wrote this soulful duet and released it as a B-side with his frequent duet partner, Tammi Terrell. 15 years later, Luther Vandross and Cheryl Lynn introduced it to a new generation of fans – delivering plenty of chemistry with their smooth-as-silk rendition and scoring a Top 5 hit on the R&B charts along the way.
33: Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston – When You Believe (1998)
Christmas came early for pop music fans in November 1998 when Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston – two of the greatest vocalists ever – combined their talents for “When You Believe.” Written for the 1998 animated film The Prince of Egypt, the inspiring ballad earned an Academy Award…and plenty of publicity. While “When You Believe” marked the only musical partnership for these two divas, it was certainly a memorable one.
32: Patsy Cline & Jim Reeves – I Fall to Pieces (1982)
In 1961, Patsy Cline made the Hank Cochran/Harlan Howard tune “I Fall to Pieces” a country standard and a major crossover hit. 20 years later, the magic of digital technology allowed for engineers to pair Cline’s vocals with those of another country legend, Jim Reeves. While both artists had tragically lost their lives to plane crashes in the 60s and never worked together during their lifetimes, they were brought together posthumously in the album Remembering Patsy Cline & Jim Reeves. Their duet of “I Fall to Pieces,” meanwhile, rose up the charts in the US and Canada, and offered a beautiful reminder of Reeves and Cline’s incredible talents.
31: Billy Eckstine & Sarah Vaughan – Passing Strangers (1957)
A couple reflects on their strained relationship in this melancholic standard, originally made famous in 1957 by bandleader and singer Billy Eckstine and jazz singer Sarah Vaughan. While the duet achieved success upon its release in America and Britain, “Passing Strangers” returned to the UK charts 12 years later, becoming a Top 20 hit.
30: Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash – Girl from the North Country (1969)
Inspired by a trip to England, Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” made its first appearance in 1963 on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Seven years later, Dylan revisited the folk ballad, recording it as a duet with Johnny Cash for his country-inspired 1969 LP, Nashville Skyline. Since then, the classic tune has been covered – in both formats – by countless artists, including Leon Russell and Joe Cocker, the Black Crowes, and Rosanne Cash.
29: Nelly Furtado & Timbaland – Promiscuous (2006)
Nelly Furtado and Timbaland deliver plenty of playful, sexy banter in this delectable hit, off Furtado’s best-selling 2006 LP, Loose. In the studio, the track (written by Furtado and Timothy “Attitude” Clayton) was often referred to as “the BlackBerry Song,” as its lyrics felt akin to flirty text messages. Produced by Timbaland, who helmed the majority of Loose, “Promiscuous” became the Canadian pop star’s first No.1 hit in the US and earned the pair a Grammy nod.
Click to load video
28: Ozzy Osbourne & Lita Ford – Close My Eyes Forever (1989)
Take two super talented rockers, a bottle of whiskey, and a couple of guitars: wait a few hours, and you might just get a powerhouse ballad like “Close My Eyes Forever.” That’s what happened in 1989 when Ozzy Osbourne and Lita Ford spent a long, late night jamming in the studio. Appearing on Ford’s album, Lita, the song broke the Billboard Hot 100’s Top Ten, becoming the highest-charting single of both artists’ solo careers.
27: Jay-Z & Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind (2009)
Over the past century, New York City has had several iconic songs written about it. But in 2009, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys created one for the modern age. Anthemic, hip, and soulful, “Empire State of Mind” became a sensation in New York and around the globe, earning multiple Grammys, multiple platinum records, and countless accolades from the press. Fittingly becoming the final No.1 hit of the 2000s, the song closed out a particularly turbulent decade for New Yorkers.
26: John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John – Summer Nights (Grease) (1978)
In one of the most memorable scenes from Grease, Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) detail their summer romance in “Summer Nights” – each delivering a slightly different version to their eager friends (the “T-Birds” and “The Pink Ladies”). The humor-laced song was released as a single in August 1978 – two months after Grease premiered in movie theaters – and landed at No.5 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was an even bigger hit in the UK, spending a whopping seven weeks at the top of the pop charts. One of the best karaoke duets ever penned.
25: Patti Labelle & Michael McDonald – On My Own (1986)
A couple mourns a relationship and wonders what could have been in this moving, 1986 ballad from Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald. Despite the intimate performance, the busy artists were in different locations when it came time to record the song, and recorded their parts separately. Fittingly, the music video also reflects this distance, showing McDonald and Labelle on a split-screen, each performing from a different coast. Topping the pop charts in the US and Canada, “On My Own” became both stars’ biggest hit single.
24: Nelly & Kelly Rowland – Dilemma (2002)
Nelly and Kelly Rowland face the ultimate “Dilemma” in this Grammy-winning duet from 2002. The song, which appeared on solo albums by both artists, finds the rapper and singer trading lines about how they can’t stop thinking about each other, despite being in relationships with other people. Fans found the song equally as appealing: “Dilemma” topped the charts around the globe, including in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and across Europe.
23: Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson – Say Say Say (1983)
In the spring of 1981, Paul McCartney was settling back into a solo career, following the breakup of Wings, while Michael Jackson had recently released his breakthrough record, Off the Wall. During this time, McCartney enlisted Jackson to work with him on the bubbly “Say Say Say,” inviting the young artist to stay at his home and encouraging him creatively along the way. In the two years that passed between the song’s recording and release (off McCartney’s Pipes of Peace), Jackson’s star would rise exponentially with Thriller (which included another duet with McCartney, “The Girl is Mine”). By the time that “Say Say Say” came out in 1983, the world was primed for more of the duo. It became a massive global hit for both artists and remained at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks.
Click to load video
22: Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – Shallow (2018)
The chemistry between Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper is undeniable in this poignant folk-rock duet, which leads the soundtrack to 2018’s A Star Is Born. Performed several times throughout the film by Ally (Gaga) and Jackson (Cooper), the chart-topping hit earned a multitude of accolades – including an Academy Award, four Grammy Awards, and a BAFTA – and was included in a variety of year-end and decade-end lists. Co-written by Lady Gaga, the song has since been covered by several artists, including husband-and-wife duo, Tricia Yearwood and Garth Brooks.
21: Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald – Cheek to Cheek (1956)
Originally written for Fred Astaire to sing to Ginger Rogers in the 1935 movie, Top Hat, this Irving Berlin standard has been performed frequently throughout the 20th century (and beyond). One of the most memorable renditions of “Cheek to Cheek,” however, was by two of the greatest jazz vocalists in history, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, for their 1956 LP, Ella and Louis. Backed by the great Oscar Peterson on piano, the swinging performance is utterly charming and stands as one of the best duets of the 50s.
20: George Michael & Aretha Franklin – I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) (1987)
In 1987, when producer Clive Davis paired George Michael, one of the biggest pop stars in the world, with soul legend Aretha Franklin, it was a magical moment in music history. Both artists were equally as enamored with each other’s work, and that chemistry certainly shines through in “I Knew You Were Waiting.” Fans of both artists responded just as enthusiastically – the single not only earned a Grammy but also topped the pop charts in the US and the UK (making the song Franklin’s first No.1 single on the Billboard Hot 100).
19: Christina Aguilera, Mya, Lil’ Kim, & P!nk – Lady Marmalade (2001)
In 1974, LaBelle topped the charts and raised eyebrows with the funky “Lady Marmalade,” singing the suggestive French lyrics “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?” (“Do you want to sleep with me?”). Nearly three decades later, four of the fiercest female vocalists in music (Christina Aguilera, Mya, Lil Kim, and P!nk) reimagined the song for a new generation. The song, recorded for the best-selling Moulin Rouge! soundtrack, earned the artists a Grammy and hit No.1 in more than a dozen countries, including the US, UK, and Australia.
Click to load video
18: Brandy & Monica – The Boy Is Mine (1998)
Two of R&B’s biggest stars battled it out over a cute boy in this irresistibly catchy 1998 single. While we never did find out the fate of the young man in question, both ladies ultimately won. Not only did “The Boy is Mine” top the US charts but it became the best-selling song of the year and earned Monica and Brandy their first Grammy Awards.
17: Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks – Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around (1981)
The first single off Stevie Nicks’ 1981 solo debut (Bella Donna), “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” was the first of several collaborations between the Fleetwood Mac star and Tom Petty. The only song on the album not written or co-written by Nicks, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” was penned by Petty and his Heartbreakers bandmate, Mike Campbell. Their producer, Jimmy Iovine, was also working with Nicks at the time and recommended that she try out the song, bringing the band in to join in on the recording. The track not only became an instant classic but also marked the biggest US hit for both Nicks and the Heartbreakers.
16: Peaches & Herb – Reunited (1979)
While several women sang under the name “Peaches” in the long-running vocal duo Peaches & Herb, Linda Greene (1976 – 1983) helped Herb score some of the duo’s biggest hits, including “Reunited.” As the title suggests, the 1979 slow-jam finds a couple reveling in getting back together. Like the subjects in their duet, Greene and Fame had something else to celebrate: scoring a multi-platinum-selling crossover hit. The song spent four weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, as well as the R&B chart, and was ranked as the 5th biggest single of the year.
15: Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure (1981)
Opening with one of the most recognizable bass lines ever, 1981’s “Under Pressure” was the result of an impromptu jam session between Queen and David Bowie (two of the biggest acts in the world), when they were recording at the same studio in Montreux, Switzerland. Released as a single in 1981, and later appearing on Queen’s tenth studio album, Hot Space, the powerful rock song became a massive hit – topping the pop charts in the UK and Canada, and landing in the Top Ten in a multitude of countries. In the decades following its release, “Under Pressure” has often been ranked among the greatest songs of all time.
Click to load video
14: Donna Summer & Barbra Streisand – No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) (1979)
Two of music’s greatest pop singers teamed up with an important message: that women shouldn’t put up with a bad relationship. Co-produced by Giorgio Moroder (aka the “Father of Disco”) the track was released in multiple edits and mixes (including an 11-minute extended version), appearing on Streisand’s 1979 LP, Wet, and Summer’s compilation LP, On the Radio: Greatest Hits Vols. I & II (also 1979). While the women never performed the song together live, they did score a major hit – landing at No.1 in the US and in the Top Ten across the globe. One of the great female duets ever.
13: Donny Hathaway & Roberta Flack – The Closer I Get to You (1977)
In 1972, soul stars Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack teamed up for an album of duets, resulting in several best-selling singles and a Grammy Award (for “Where is the Love”). Five years later, they reunited for the romantic single, “The Closer I Get to You.” The ballad, which appeared on Flack’s solo LP, Blue Lights in the Basement, flew to the top of the Soul chart and landed at No.2 on the Billboard Hot 100. While the artists continued to collaborate in the studio, Hathaway sadly passed away in 1979. Flack paid tribute to her close friend and musical partner by including several of these songs on 1980’s Roberta Flack Featuring Donny Hathaway.
12: Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Your Precious Love (1967)
In the spring of 1967, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell captured the hearts of America with their debut duet, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” written by the husband-and-wife songwriting team of Ashford & Simpson. Not long after, all four reunited to repeat the magic with “Your Precious Love.” Released in August 1967, the soulful track continued the duo’s success – and then some – landing at No.2 on the R&B chart and No.5 on the Billboard Hot 100. It would go on to be covered by everyone from D’Angelo and Erykah Badu to Neil Sedaka and his daughter, Dara.
11: Method Man & Mary J. Blige – I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need to Get By (1995)
In 1995, rapper Method Man teamed up with songstress Mary J. Blige and RZA (as producer) for a remix of “All I Need” (off his 1994 debut, Tical). Borrowing from another famous duet (Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “You’re All I Need to Get By”), the pair delivered one of the most iconic hip-hop duets ever, earning a Grammy and a No.1 R&B hit. Decades later, the song is considered to be among the greatest hip-hop tracks of all time.
Click to load video
10: Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes – (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life (1987)
In the summer of 1987, people couldn’t get enough of “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”– the irresistible theme to Dirty Dancing. A duet between Bill Medley (of the Righteous Brothers) and singer-songwriter Jennifer Warnes, the song was one of a few originals written for the blockbuster movie, which took place in 1963. While “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” was decidedly modern, compared to many of the soundtrack’s era-specific tunes, it defined the now-classic flick – not only becoming a massive global hit, but scoring multiple awards, including a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Golden Globe.
09: Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman – Time To Say Goodbye (1996)
Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli broke records across Europe with 1995’s “Con te partirò.” One year later, he topped himself, recording an English-language version of the operatic song with British soprano Sarah Brightman. The song (released as “Time to Say Goodbye”) topped the pop charts across Europe and became one of the best-selling singles, globally, of all time. It remains one of the best duets of the 90s.
Click to load video
08: Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings – Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys (1978)
…But it’s not so bad if they grow up to be country singers! When Ed and Patsy Bruce wrote “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” they offered a tip of the (cowboy) hat to the classic songs of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. Three years later, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings turned the song into a male duet for their 1978 album, Waylon & Willie. The memorable recording became a No.1 Country hit and scored the legendary artists a Grammy along the way.
07: Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack – Tonight I Celebrate My Love (1983)
One of the consummate romantic ballads of the 80s, the platinum-selling “Tonight I Celebrate My Love” set the mood for countless couples throughout the decade. Featuring a soulful performance by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack (who recorded their song for their duet album, Born to Love), the 1983 single landed in the Top Ten in multiple territories, including the UK, South Africa, Canada, Norway, and Australia.
06: Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – Where Is the Love (1972)
The best duet of the 70s? Two of the smoothest vocals in soul wonder what happened to the love that they once had in this 1972 duet. Hathaway and Flack didn’t have to look too far for that missing adoration: they scored a Top 5 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group. The love continued through the years with dozens of covers, including those by Liza Minelli, Sérgio Mendes, and Johnny Mathis.
05: The Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody (1965)
Originally written by Alex North and Hy Zaret for the 1955 film Unchained, “Unchained Melody” became one of the most-recorded songs of the 20th century. The ballad first hit the charts in 1955, with versions by Liberace, Harry Belafonte, and bandleader Les Baxter, among several others. In 1965, however, the Righteous Brothers recorded the most enduring version of the song, with a powerful and emotion-packed vocal solo performance by the duo’s Bobby Hatfield. 25 years later, the Righteous Brothers’ moving recording re-entered the Billboard Hot 100’s Top Ten, after it featured prominently in the film Ghost.
04: Sonny & Cher – I Got You Babe (1965)
For a ten-year period in the 60s and 70s, husband-and-wife duo Sonny & Cher were one of the most famous couples in entertainment – beginning with their chart-topping 1965 debut, “I Got You Babe.” Drawing from elements of folk, rock, and pop, the duet became the couple’s signature hit, as well as a defining song of the era. Decades later, the song remains a staple in popular culture (Groundhog Day, anyone?), and is considered to be among one of the best duets in history.
03: Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – Islands In The Stream (1983)
One of the most enduring crossover hits ever (and a must-sing karaoke song), “Islands in the Stream” paired country superstars Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton to perform a duet of the Bee Gees-penned ballad. The 1983 song, which appeared on Rogers’ LP, Eyes That See in the Dark, topped country and pop charts around the world, giving both Parton and Rogers their second No.1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.
02: Diana Ross & Lionel Richie – Endless Love (1981)
The best duet of the 80s? While 1981’s Endless Love might not have been quite as enduring as its title suggests, the film’s theme song – written by Lionel Richie and performed as a duet with Diana Ross – fared much better. A multi-platinum-selling hit, “Endless Love” went on to spend nine weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, earning Oscar and GRAMMY nods, and becoming the best-selling single of Ross’ career.
Click to load video
01: Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (1967)
From 1967-1970, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell were Motown’s golden duo. Together, the gifted singers released three studio albums and scored a dozen hit singles, beginning with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Written by the husband-and-wife songwriting team of Ashford & Simpson, and featuring instrumentation by the Funk Brothers and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the song landed at No.3 on the R&B chart and crossed over into the Billboard Hot 100’s Top 20. In 1999, the enduring hit was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, while today, it is regarded as one of the best duets ever recorded.
Click to load video