ABC is putting Kelly Clarkson, Robin Thicke, Jennifer Nettles, and John Legend on the road and forcing them to cast potential duet partners for themselves. I think it’s a perfect idea, especially since the art of the duet has hit the wayside in the past few years, wouldn’t you say? Seriously, what was the last duet you cared about? If “Moves Like Jagger” comes to mind, I got here just in time. To honor the ABC show’s noble intention of reviving the duet, here are the best 10 duets of all time, the ones that represent 1) the fun of collaboration 2) glamorous celebrity intermingling, 3) a tinge of unintentional hilarity (only if necessary), and 4) ineffable pop goodness. Some are recorded, some are live versions, and all are compulsively listenable.
We begin with the story of two outlaw superstars on their way out of the clink.
10. Lady Gaga and Beyonce, “Telephone”
What if I’d selected “Video Phone” instead? Would you have me commited? Would you commit yourself? The point is: Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s supersonic duet is something of an acquired taste, but both ladies outsass themselves in record amounts. Who knew there were such exhilarating methods of discussing the problems of cell phone technology?
9. Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, “Where is the Love?”
Oh, Roberta. She’s the loveliest. Both legends sound marvelous here, and though they’d collaborate again, I think this remains their sweetest, most charmingly simple partnership.
8. Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”
Funny enough, both Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes have sung in duets with other performers, and both songs were contenders for this list. Medley’s collaboration with Gladys Knight, “Loving on Borrowed Time,” and Jennifer Warnes co-sang the Oscar-winning ballad “Up Where We Belong.” Too bad Dirty Dancing‘s crowning moment is still so listenable, catchy, and fun, even after being tarred and feathered recently by the Black Eyed Peas.
7. David Bowie and Bing Crosby, “Little Drummer Boy”
I love a duet forged by an unlikely partnership. In this Christmas video, Bing Crosby and David Bowie chat to try to level with one another, and both legends agree to hum and trill “Little Drummer Boy” like proper schoolchildren. Bowie is Swinton-fierce, of course, but Bing Crosby is equally game for fun.
6. Aretha Franklin and George Michael, “I Knew You Were Waiting”
Combine prime George Michael and the no-nonsense ’80s version of Aretha Franklin, and what do you get? This lively concoction that somehow serves both voices perfectly. I dare you to take your eyes off George throughout its runtime.