Playlist: Duets

Playlist: Duets

· music · playlists
Fall head over heels for our duet playlist. Features Lita Ford & Ozzy Osbourne, Taylor Swift & Bon Iver, SZA & Phoebe Bridgers and more.

Very few songs tug at our heartstrings like a good duet. Even if you’re not the romantic type, there’s nothing quite like the sonic sensation that happens when two great voices collide on a catchy tune.

You’ll love this playlist featuring a few of our favorite duets throughout the decades (even if they’re not all love songs, exactly).

Press play to double the fun with eleven dynamic duos who’ll have you doing the two-step in your true wireless earbuds.

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss — “Can’t Let Go”

Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant and 27 time GRAMMY Award-winning vocalist Alison Krauss take on an unruly white-knuckle power pop hit by Al Gorgoni and “Wild Thing” songwriter Chip Taylor on their 2021 recording of Can’t Let Go,” appearing on the duo’s album Raise the Roof.

On Raise the Roof, the critically acclaimed and wholly unexpected Dynamic Duo of Bluegrass reunite with producer T-Bone Burnett and an all-star cast of session players including guitarists Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, the Lounge Lizards) and prolific jazz icon Bill Frisell to set the stage for their dreamy, driving take on classic Americana. The open, natural production fits Plant and Krauss’ dynamic and dramatic vocal harmonies like a glove.

Iggy Pop & Kate Pierson — “Candy”

Most people spend their lives avoiding tense situations. Iggy Pop spends his life getting into tense situations, the peanut butter jar and more career comebacks than cats have lives.

Life was never sweeter than on “Candy,” Pop’s 1990 duet with B-52 Kate Pierson which gave the Godfather of Punk his first (and to date only) top-40 single. This Don Was-produced banger marks a pair of firsts for the eternally shirtless rocker. The album it appears on, Brick By Brick spent 37 weeks on the Billboard charts.

It is also the studio debut of Iggy Pop: multi-instrumentalist. Pop got his start playing drums in Michigan garage outfit the Iguanas and adds acoustic and electric guitar to his resume on Brick By Brick.

Toots & the Maytals w/ Willie Nelson — Still is Still Moving to Me

Willie Nelson “does the Reggae” sitting in with rocksteady icons Toots & the Maytals on “Still is Still Moving to Me,” a 2004 rerecording of a Toots Hibbert original appearing on the collection True Love.

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences reciprocated Hibbert’s True Love with the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. The star-studded disc featuring duets with Bonnie Raitt, Shaggy and Rahzel, Jeff Beck, Trey Anastasio, Bootsy Collins and the Roots, Keith Richards and more introduced a new generation of fans to Toots & the Maytals, who continued to record and perform until Hibbert’s passing in September 2020.

Nas & Ms. Lauryn Hill — “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)”

Nas calls on Ms. Lauryn Hill to help kick the sophomore slump to the curb on “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That),” the first single from Nas’ second album, It Was Written.

When your debut album is considered one of the best of all time—hip hop or otherwise—writing the follow-up might leave you feeling tongue-tied. Luckily, a feature by Ms. Lauryn Hill and one of hip hop’s catchiest choruses helped propel “If I Ruled the World” and It Was Written to the top of the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts in 1996.

Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue — “Where the Wild Roses Grow”

Opposites attract on “Where the Wild Roses Grow,” a stranger-than-fiction pairing of dance-pop star Kylie Minogue with Nick Cave’s brand of twisted and theatrical Iggy-Pop-but-make-it-evil gothic art-rock appearing on Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds 1996 album, Murder Ballads.

Together, Cave and Minogue’s vocals fit hand-in-glove on this scary story to sing in the dark. The Bad Seeds set the scene in sultry 6/8 time and the rest, as they say, is history. “Where the Wild Roses Grow” is the Bad Seeds’ best selling single to date, having reached Gold status in Australia and Germany.

Jack White & Alicia Keys — “Another Way to Die”

Don’t touch that dial, 007. Jack White and Alicia Keys make James Bond history with the first duet in franchise history with “Another Way to Die,” the explosive (and divisive) theme to 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

Like a Q lab experiment gone haywire, “Another Way to Die” tries to redefine what it means to sound like a Bond theme with a bombastic blend of Alicia Keys’ soaring vocal acrobatics, Jack White’s raunchy Midwestern garage-fuzz-blues and a heaping helping of swinging Hollywood R&B swagger the size of backlot at MGM. Reviews of the theme song and film remain mixed, even today, but hey—it hit the top of the charts in Finland.

St. Vincent & David Byrne — “Who”

St. Vincent and David Byrne ask the big questions backed by a funky brass band on “Who,” the rhetorical question driving the first single from the pair’s 2012 album Love This Giant.

Speaking with the Guardian, Byrne explains how Annie Clark’s (St. Vincent) idea to use brass instrumentation influenced his shift in tone from writing personal lyrics to “talking about big stuff.”

"I tried to write more personal [lyrics] at first, and it didn't seem to be working,” says Byrne. “The brass takes over a lot. Whether they're playing funky or more orchestral. So we had to go with that, lyrically.”

Taylor Swift & Bon Iver — “exile”

Taylor Swift and Bon Iver simply cannot get it together on “exile,” the downtempo minimalist duet/ballad and second single from Swift’s 2020 album Folklore.

Try as they might, the estranged lovers portrayed in the song’s lyrics by Swift and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) are unable to communicate. But the song’s production speaks louder than words. Backed by weepy cinematic strings and a piano player asleep at the keys, the low-key instrumentation sets the stage for Swift and Vernon’s call-and-response harmonies which interrupt the other like actors in a stage play.

The stakes and the drama are high in this intense duet that we feel is among the best in Taylor Swift and Bon Iver’s catalogs. And you’d better believe it sounds great in true wireless earbuds.

SZA & Phoebe Bridgers — “Ghost in the Machine”

Phoebe Bridgers might have recorded her feature on SZA’s “Ghost in the Machine” the week before it was released, but her performance sounds anything but last minute.

Bridgers tells NME how the collaboration came about after SZA slid into her DMs:

“She just hit me up, she just sent me a DM,” she said. “It all happened so fast. I wasn’t really used to that in the pop world, because vinyl isn’t so much of a consideration until way later, it’s just like, ‘Do you want to be on this record? Okay, it’s out next week’, which I really like. I like that turnaround time.”

The resulting track is gentle and manages to match both artists stylistically at the same time—a feat that shows off the range of both musicians. It’s both driving and gentle and is a highlight on an already-highly-acclaimed album.

Lita Ford & Ozzy Osbourne — “Close My Eyes Forever”

Here, have a free guitar lesson on the house.

In a GearFest 2020 virtual interview with Sweetwater, guitarist and songwriter Lita Ford explains how (in family-friendly terms) a Lita vs. Ozzy billiards game and one bored Sharon Osbourne led to the all-nighter writing session which produced one of the biggest hits of the Sunset Strip hair metal daze.

Watching Ford explain the unique chord voicings which give “Close My Eyes Forever” its spine tingling ethereal sound is enough to inspire anyone to pick up the guitar for the first (or millionth) time and start playing along. Listening to the tune on a set of good wireless earbuds, it’s easy to hear how Ford’s driving guitar playing puts the “power” in power ballad.

George Jones & Tammy Wynette — “We Go Together”

George Jones and Tammy Wynette go together like the country music royalty they are on “We Go Together,” the title track from the couple’s debut duet album.

At only twenty-seven minutes long, the We Go Together LP scoots along like a runaway lawnmower with an almost hardcore punk velocity. Jones and Wynette rip through song after song of Billy Sherril-produced country classics united by two of the strongest voices in Nashville history. Their stacked vocal harmonies go together like goosebumps and the hair standing straight up on the back of your neck.

Hear and feel the difference

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