Trying to come up with a list of the top 10 best duets of all time could be construed as an exercise in futility. There have been so many great duets performed by so many legendary singers down through the history of music that I could put together a list of the top 1000 duets of all time and still feel like I’m snubbing some great musical performances. Still, it is always fun to come up with these lists, and to read the comments of others to see how their opinions differ from mine, so I’ve given it the old college try. Here are my picks for the top 10 best duets in music history:
10 – Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton – Islands In The Stream – Two of country music’s biggest stars teamed up for this 1980s duet. The duet was actually written by the Bee Gees, and though Kenny and Dolly were country music stars this song had enough of a pop vibe that it got regular play on mainstream radio.
9 – Peaches and Herb – Reunited – and it feels so good. Some people might argue this inclusion on the list, since it does not involve two separate musical acts teaming up for a single song, but rather a long time group performing another hit. Still, with the constant stream of “Peaches” that went through the group every song they released had the vibe of a duet. It is flimsy I know, but I love this song, and I’m sticking to my guns on this one.
8 – Sonny & Cher – I Got You Babe – Certainly one of the most recognizable songs on this list of the top 10 duets of all time, I Got You Babe is also one of the most fun to sing along to. Countless thousands of drunken couples have belted this out to one another in the forty plus years since its release.
7 – Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond – You Don’t Bring Me Flowers – Barbra Streisand could have made this list multiple times, but for the sake of variety I will keep her to a single appearance. Neil Diamond is a classic 1970s crooner, and his soft baritone was the perfect counterpoint to Streisand’s golden dulcet voice.
6 – Queen and David Bowie – Under Pressure – I wonder if they regret giving Vanilla Ice the rights to sample Under Pressure for the beginning of his one hit wonder rap song Ice Ice Baby. This classic tune is no synonymous with one of the biggest career jokes in music history. Still, there is no denying this is an all time classic duet, and both Bowie and the band Queen are music legends that will live on after pop culture has completely erased Vanilla Ice’s brief career from memory.
5 – Simon and Garfunkel – The Sound Of Silence – Again, a bit of license with this particular selection. Simon and Garfunkel were a group when this song was performed, however since they both also had solo careers I am going to use that excuse to get this song on the list. Two different people are singing, so it is technically a duet, right?
4 – John Travolta and Olivia Newton John – You’re The One That I Want – My wife demanded that something from the movie Grease be on this list of the top 10 best duets of all time, so I have reluctantly respected her wishes, despite my personal loathing of the movie Grease. Though it pains me, I must admit that this particular duet does seem to be pretty popular, and the women go nuts every time it gets played at parties.
3 – Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra – Some Velvet Morning – This song would take the top spot on many people’s list of the best music duets ever, but only reaches number 3 in my estimation. The song’s soft tones seem strangely dreamlike, and misty around the edges, and Hazlewood’s distinctive country baritone plays perfectly against Sinatra’s hauntingly melodic voice.
2 – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing – It has been covered numerous times by music legends like Aretha Franklin and Elton John, but this version by Gaye and Terrell remains the definitive version. Smoky and romantic, this one is a great tune to have in the background if you are trying to get your wife or girlfriend in the mood.
1 – Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole – Unforgettable – Not only one of the best duets of all time, but one of the best songs of all time in my estimation. The “King” in Nat King Cole’s name is truly representative of his impact on musical history, and much like Elvis Presley, his legacy continues to live on in those he inspired with his music. Nat King Cole originally recorded the song in 1951, and though he died in 1965, he was part of a grammy award winning duet with granddaughter Natalie Cole when she re-released the song, adding her own voice to the track, in 1991. Classic and haunting, it easily takes the prize at number one on the list of the top 10 duets in music history.