9:47am PDT, Mar 19, 2021
Who doesn’t love a catchy duet?! To mark the release of Sting’s new album “Duets” on March 19, 2021 — a compilation of his collaborations with artists including Eric Clapton, Craig David, Annie Lennox, Mary J. Blige, Shaggy, Herbie Hancock, Julio Iglesias, Chris Botti, Charles Aznavour, Mylène Farmer, Melody Gardot, Gashi and more — Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at our favorite duets from some of the music industry’s finest. Keep reading for more…
RELATED: 32 big-name rock stars when they were young
1998’s “The Boy Is Mine” is a collaboration between R&B singers Brandy and Monica. The track, which played off the long-speculated feud between the songstresses, went on to become the lead single off both of their 1998 albums (“Never Say Never” and “The Boy Is Mine,” respectively) and was the bestselling track of the year with 2.6 million copies sold in the United States. In addition to earning 1999 Grammy nominations for record of the year and best R&B song, Brandy and Monica took home a best R&B vocal performance by a duo or group Grammy.
RELATED: The top 25 albums turning 25 in 2021
To say that Rihanna and JAY-Z’s “Umbrella” was one of the most successful songs of 2007 would be an understatement. The track, which was released as the lead single off Rihanna’s “Good Girl Gone Bad” album, marked a pivotal transition in her career — in addition to leaning into a more R&B sound, she also embraced an edgier, sexier image. “Umbrella” went on to earn 2008 Grammy nominations for record and song of the year and won the award for best rap/sung collaboration.
RELATED: The business of being Rihanna
It’s electrifyin’! 1978’s feature film adaptation of “Grease,” which starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, was filled with several hits. A particular fan favorite though? “You’re the One That I Want.” Regarded as one of the bestselling singles in music history, the track sold an estimated 15 million copies worldwide and reached No. 1 in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.
As far as influential anthems go, there are few with quite the same cultural impact as “Empire State of Mind.” The track — which was featured on JAY-Z’s 11th studio album, “The Blueprint 3,” and released in 2009, celebrates the city both he and Alicia have always called home. “Empire State of Mind” earned critical acclaim — in addition to being named one of the best songs in 2009 by The New York Times and Rolling Stone, it earned three nominations at the 2010 Grammys and took home the awards for best rap song and best rap/sung collaboration.
While New Yorkers had “Empire State of Mind,” Californians got “California Gurls.” The track, which was recorded by Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg in 2010 and served as the lead single for her “Teenage Dream” album, celebrated the pop star and the iconic rapper’s home state. The funk-pop track garnered widespread acclaim from critics — it was among the bestselling songs of the year and went eight times platinum in the United States, six times platinum in Australia and four times platinum in Canada. The single, which Katy dubbed her response to “Empire State of Mind,” also earned a Grammy nod for best pop collaboration with vocals in 2011.
In 1981, Lionel Richie and Diana Ross released the duet “Endless Love,” which became the “I’m Coming Out” singer’s bestselling single and the final No. 1 of her career. The R&B ballad, which was featured in Franco Zeffirelli’s film of the same name, earned an Academy Award nomination for best original song.
In 1976, Elton John released the duet “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” with Kiki Dee. It went on to become his first No. 1 in the United Kingdom and his sixth in the United States! The track was heavily inspired by Motown icon Marvin Gaye’s duets “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “It Takes Two” and “You’re All I Need to Get By.”
As for a more recent collaboration that’s garnered buzz? That’d be Taylor Swift’s 2019 “Lover (Remix)” featuring Canadian heartthrob Shawn Mendes. The infectious love song — which was originally a solo release and the title track off Taylor’s album of the same name — morphed into a surprise duet between the two pop stars. The remix was certified gold in New Zealand.
Admit it — in middle school, you practically played this song on loop while mourning the relationship you never had (it’s OK, we did too!). “My Boo” — which was released in 2004 — marked the first collaboration between Usher and Alicia Keys and was featured on the former’s fourth studio album, “Confessions.” As well as staying at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for an impressive six weeks, the single earned the 2005 Grammy Award for best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals.
Following the release of their first duet together, 2002’s “’03 Bonnie and Clyde,” Beyonce and JAY-Z — who were in the early days of their romance at the time — debuted “Crazy in Love” in 2003. Released as the lead single of Bey’s debut solo album, “Dangerously in Love,” the R&B track garnered major success: It reached No. 1 in the United States, was dubbed the best song of the 2000s by Rolling Stone and earned 2004 Grammys for best R&B song and best rap/sung collaboration.
In 2006, Canadian pop singer Nelly Furtado released the track “Promiscuous” featuring Timbaland. The song, which was Nelly’s second single off her third studio album, “Loose,” became her first No. 1 in the United States. “Promiscuous” also earned a nomination at the 2007 Grammy Awards for best pop collaboration with vocals.
It’s hard not to break into dance when this track comes on! 2008’s “American Boy” is an exceptional collaboration between British singer Estelle and American rapper Kanye West. Thanks to the talents of co-writers including John Legend and the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am, the song, which fuses disco and funk elements, won a 2009 Grammy Award for best rap/sung collaboration in addition to earning a nod for song of the year.
Long before she was asking if we believed in life after love, Cher and former hubby Sonny Bono made up the iconic duo Sonny & Cher. One of their most notable hits was 1965’s “I Got You Babe,” which was certified gold in the United States. In addition to being praised as one of the greatest duets to date by Billboard and Rolling Stone, the pop single was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2017.
In 1998, powerhouse vocalists Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston joined forces to release “When You Believe” from the DreamWorks animated feature film “The Prince of Egypt.” Despite only reaching No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the epic pop ballad went on to earn the 1999 Academy Award for best original song.
Nobody puts Baby in a corner! Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes came together to record the iconic single “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” for 1987’s “Dirty Dancing,” which starred Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. It’s no surprise that the song found immense success — it went on to earn an Oscar and a Golden Globe for best original song as well as a Grammy for best pop performance by a duo or group with vocals.
As if you’re surprised that Queen Bey made another appearance on our list! Just three months after the release of “Crazy in Love,” Beyonce debuted her follow-up single, “Baby Boy” featuring Sean Paul. The dancehall-meets-R&B track earned the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for nine straight weeks, making it Beyonce’s longest charting No. 1 single for four years (until the release of “Irreplaceable” in 2007).
In 2019, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello — who started dating the same year — released “Señorita,” their steamy duet that was also featured on the deluxe edition of his self-titled third album as well as on her second solo album, “Romance.” As well as hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the Latin pop single was up for a 2020 Grammy Award for best pop duo/group performance.
In 2008, Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown debuted their collaborative hit “No Air,” which was featured on the “American Idol” contestant’s self-titled debut studio album. The track earned a then-17-year-old Jordin her first Grammy nomination for best pop collaboration with vocals.
1998’s “When You’re Gone,” a collaboration between Bryan Adams and the Spice Girls’ Melanie Chisholm, marked the pop singer’s first release apart from her iconic girl group. The pop-rock hit was the second single from Bryan’s album “On a Day Like Today” and went on to be certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry.