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Duet to it

Double your fun with songs that feature twice the talent.

By Christine Cauthen | Oct. 7, 2011

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We’ve all heard the cliché sayings, “two peas in a pod” and “two is better than one,” and although it gets old hearing, “it takes two,” songs like these prove that sometimes "the more the merrier" is very true.

  1. “All I Have” — Jennifer Lopez and LL Cool J — This R&B flashback song from the early '00s will no doubt bring you back to singing this song in the backseat of your mom’s car or getting excited when the video came on MTV. Immediately, the song samples Debra Laws’ song “Very Special” and puts a slight hip-hop spin on it. The lyrics tell the tale of the typical “It’s over, but come back to me” tale commonplace in pop songs, but for us early-'90s babies, music like this will always hold a special place in our hearts.

  2. “You Don’t Know Me At All” — Regina Spektor and Ben Folds — If indie heaven was a pop song, this is it. The classic and airy voice of Regina Spektor is the icing on top of the cake that is Ben Folds' goofy lyrics and catchy piano hooks. Put these two vocal elements over an upbeat almost “anti-love song” and you’ve got the epitome of an angst-ridden hipster love/hate relationship.

  3. “Volcano” — Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan — Like most duets, this one is a love song. Fortunately, it’s not terribly traditional or sappy, but more realistic and raw. Damien Rice asks his lover not to build her world around him, denies mutual feelings and generally discourages the relationship. Rice portrays himself as the needy lover, “You give me miles and miles of mountain, and I’ll ask for the sea." Hannigan in return mimics his feelings and they sing together about how “What I really need is what makes me bleed." This song is the classic tale of a toxic relationship backed by eerie string parts and haunting vocal melodies.

  4. “Dirt Off Your Shoulder/Lying From You” — Linkin Park and Jay-Z — Quite a drastic turn from the last three songs, this duet’s main focus is not that of a love story. Collision Course, the mash-up album consisting of six Linkin Park and Jay-Z songs mixed into blended euphoria, plays host to this strangely calming hip-hop mix. Remixed violin parts set up the backing sounds while Jay-Z raps along and the transitions between his laid back hip hop vocals and Chester’s forceful screams are seemingly seamless.

  5. “Nothing Better” — The Postal Service and Jen Wood — The Postal Service has electronic beats and slight vocals down to a science. Ben Gibbard sings of a girl that he’s clearly pining over, all the while trying to convince himself to forget about women altogether and heal himself before advancing in any more romantic endeavors. Jen Wood won’t let him forget the things that happened in the relationship, immediately shutting down the pity party and explaining her excuses for leaving. This song is easily relatable to anyone who has the urge to stay in a relationship despite the fact that it’s no good for either party.

Duets are a tricky science. Many are too lovey-dovey, some are a little heavy on the show-choir, but these five songs give a nice array of substance and real circumstances, all the while melding well musically.

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