This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Learn more

Strangest Duets

Strangest Duets

Strangest Duets

Sometimes when weird things come together, they can be amazing. Look at duck with plum sauce or Arnie and Danny DeVito in Twins.

But sometimes the weirdness just brings on more of the same. In the world of music, those damn creative types often think that the shared love of holding a tune can make anything work yet, despite their experience and often awesomeness, they've sometimes been very, very wrong.

We take a leisurely look at music's strangest duets. We'll level with you: it's a mixed bag.

(Images: Getty Images/YouTube)


Skin and Pavarotti

At a concert entitled 'Pavarotti and Friends', the big guy took to the stage with a variety of predictable names, including Eric Clapton and Bono. Someone who was probably less likely to be on his Christmas list was Skunk Anansie lead singer Skin who joined the opera singer for a collaboration that included her singing in Italian but didn't include him screaming. Some compromise.

Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue

Apparently Cave had a quiet obsession with Kylie for six years which led him to write this song, designed to be sung with her. The song told the story of a man who had a quiet obsession with a woman and, ermm, then he killed her. Kylie survived the collaboration although Cave did believe that her manic hit Better The Devil You Know contained "one of pop music's most violent and distressing lyrics." We assume he's referring to "woh woh woh."

Elton John and Eminem

Labelled a homophobe in the press, Eminem PR-d the hell out of the 2001 Grammys when Elton John turned up on stage to sing Stan with him. The stunt led to a fond bromance between the pair and they reportedly enjoy weekly calls together. The two probably bonded over their shared love of music and rage.

Texas and Method Man

Texas are many things. One of these things though is definitely not 'street'. So when Method Man decided to rework and perform their hit Say What You Want with the band themselves, many jaws dropped. While watching, many eardrums also shattered and eyes exploded as Sharleen Spiteri tried her best to act hip-hop (heavy breathing and awkward swaggering) and conflicting sounds overlapped to an upsetting effect.

Texas Ft Method Man - Say What You Wantby Cana_19

Natalie Cole and Nat King Cole

There's nothing particularly strange about singing with your dad. A tad over-sentimental perhaps but not usually strange. Slight difference though if he's been dead for 26 years. Didn't seem to bother Natalie Cole who scored her biggest hit with this odd virtual duet with her late father. It's not exploitation if you're family right? Right?

Ozzy Osbourne and Jessica Simpson

It was the duet that no one was asking for. An uncomfortable cover of Winter Wonderland from the once-titled Prince of Darkness and a woman who once starred in a Pizza Hut commercial singing "These Bites Are Made For Popping." A depressing and sometimes creepy combination it resembled a duet between Gary Oldman as Dracula and Miss Piggy as Barbie. Sidenote: Ozzy has duetted with Miss Piggy too.

Marc Bolan and Cilla Black

As one of the key glam rock figures of the 70s Marc Bolan was a surprising inclusion on Liverpudlian 'light' entertainer Cilla Black's address book. The two shared a bizarre friendship that led to this concoction in 1973. Wrong in all kinds of ways, the modern-day equivalent would be Dave Grohl duetting with Amanda Holden.

Phoenix and R. Kelly

The uber-hip Parisians Phoenix and R&B superstar R.Kelly had never met prior to being on the same bill at 2013's Coachella festival. And why would they - coming as they do from wildly disparate ends of the musical spectrum. However - to a rapturous reception - the two acts came together to perform mashups of their songs, including an amazing 1901/Ignition, culminating in Kelly guest starring on a studio remix of the band's track Trying to Be Cool. Apparently they "just asked" Kelly if he would work with them and "he just said yes". It's pretty simple really isn't it? And weirdly it works.

Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield

The Pet Shop boys were in their 'imperial' phase: on their second album and with hits flowing. The legendary Dusty Springfield, meanwhile, had not had a single enter either the UK or US Top 40 in 15 years. Pets' singer Neil Tennant was a huge fan, however, citing Dusty in Memphis as one of his favourite albums; she accepted an invitation from him to sing on a track, and they recorded What Have I Done To Deserve This? It was a no.2 smash in both the UK and US and relaunched Dusty's career.

Wyclef Jean, Kenny Rogers and Pharoahe Monch

We can only presume that Kenny had been hanging out with Willie Nelson too much when he agreed to do this. And while most of the song uses samples, it counts as a duet as the country legend added new vocals especially for this version - the truly dreadful “you gotta count your dub plates, before you touch that turntable, if you run out of big tunes, that means your sound is done.” Oh dear oh dear.

Bing Crosby and David Bowie

Strange from start to finish. The pair exchanged stilted, scripted dialogue for Crosby's upcoming TV special before launching into Little Drummer Boy. Bowie described it as "surreal" and said he only appeared on the show because "I just knew my mother liked him". Others were unsure if Crosby had any idea who Bowie was. According to Peace on Earth co-writer Ian Fraser, which was performed later in the show, Bowie said of Little Drummer Boy, "I hate this song. Is there something else I could sing?" There wasn't, so he did. And it's now undoubtedly something of a Christmas classic, especially as the show was eventually broadcast just a month after Crosby died.

Blue and Stevie Wonder

How on earth did Blue manage to get this to happen. An undisputed heavyweight musical legend and a fairly average boy band (OK they had a few great songs), brought together for your enjoyment. Considering they also organised a reworking of Elton's Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word, Blue's management were clearly some kind of geniuses of persuasion.

Lou Reed and Metallica

No-one saw this coming. Out of nowhere, Lou Reed and Metallica announced a collaboration - Lulu - based on two plays of the same name by a German playwright Frank Wedekind. The band and Lou talked it up hugely in advance: Metallica saying it was "one of the best things we've ever done", while Reed agreed, stating it was definitively "the best the best thing I ever did". However, we can objectively say that they were completely wrong. The critics savaged it, with fans left bemused by spoken word ramblings, and James Hetfield singing lyrics such as "I am the table". A dire, dire warning for everyone that what seems like a good idea, often is very much not one.

Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé

In a way, this is surprising - the two artists undoubtedly occupied very different musical worlds. But one listen to Bohemian Rhapsody demonstrates that Freddie had always wanted to bring opera to the masses. When Caballé was asked to assist in recording an anthem for the 1992 Barcelona games, she approached Mercury, who jumped at the chance to work with her. They eventually recorded a whole album; the highlight, of course, being the title track - essentially the greatest Olympic song of all time.

Tupac and Snoop Dogg

If recording with a long-gone Nat King Cole was strange, this was even weirder. Using astonishing hologram technology, Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg's Coachella performance in 2012 stole the headlines by featuring Snoop rapping with a 'live' Tupac, who had been dead for 15 years - festival banter and vocal sparring included. Speculation was rife about who the hologram company would bring to life next, but they have since filed for bankruptcy, so that Elvis and John Lennon collaboration is still probably a while away yet.