The 20 Most Memorable Duets of All Time – Rolling Stone
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The 20 Most Memorable Duets of All Time

Collaborations to remember, from Gaga and Springsteen to Alice Cooper and the Muppets

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In early March Kanye West and Jay-Z will release their long-awaited collaborative album Watch The Throne. The lead-off single "H.A.M" underwhelmed many fans, causing us to think back to the long history of all-star duets — some predictable, some completely unexpected. Sometimes they're amazing (think Elton and Eminem). Other times they fall very flat (think Diddy with Jimmy Page). Here's a look back at 19 more superstar duets from the past few decades.

By Andy Greene

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David Bowie and Cher

Seventies variety shows are a treasure trove of amazing duets. None can match this amazing Cher/David Bowie medley where they cover "Young Americans," "Wedding Bell Blues," "One," "Blue Moon" and tons of other oldies. It's truly one of the most stunningly awesome videos on YouTube.

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Britney Spears and Aerosmith, ‘Walk This Way’

N'Sync doing Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" at the 2001 Super Bowl halftime show was weird, but the crazy really kicked into high gear when Britney Spears came out (with a striped tube sock on her arm) to duet with Tyler on the second verse. By the end Mary J. Blige and Nelly even got in on the action. The next year they stopped the mash-up madness and just brought in U2.

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Elton John and Eminem, ‘Stan’

Eminem was being roundly blasted for his homophobic lyrics in 2001 when he teamed up with Elton John to sing "Stan" at the Grammys. The stunning performance ranks among the Grammys' most memorable moments of the past decade, and when they embrace at the end Em gave the middle finger to all of his critics. In recent years John has served as Eminem's sobriety coach.

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Lady Gaga and Bruce Springsteen, ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ ‘

Only Sting could manage to throw a concert that culminated in Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Debbie Harry and Shirley Bassey singing "Don't Stop Believin'." This once-in-a-lifetime performance was the grand finale of Sting's 2010 Rainforest benefit. The theme was an Eighties dance party — so what better way to wrap things up than with a little Journey?

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Ozzy Osbourne and Busta Rhymes, ‘Iron Man’

In 1998 Busta Rhymes cut "This Means War," which was built around the legendary "Iron Man" riff. To make it sound more authentic he even brought Ozzy Osbourne into the studio to sing new lyrics during the chorus. "This is the first time I've explored this area," Osbourne told MTV News. "I might get into a bit more now. It's a lot of fun."

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Nelly and Tim McGraw, ‘Over & Over Again’

If Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C. invented rap-rock on "Walk This Way," Tim McGraw and Nelly may have invented country rap when they cut "Over & Over Again" in 2004. The track was a surprise hit, leaving us to wonder when the follow-up is coming.

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Crystal Castles and Robert Smith, ‘Not In Love’

In 2010 Canadian electronic duo Crystal Castles recruited Robert Smith to sing on their track "Not In Love," which is a Platinum Blonde cover. By doubling down on Eighties icons, Crystal Castles scored the biggest hit of their career.

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Mick Jagger and David Bowie, ‘Dancing in the Street’

Mick Jagger and David Bowie have both repeatedly claimed that Angie Bowie's tale of catching them in bed together was pure fiction, but this crazy video for their cover of "Dancing In The Street" didn't do much to bolster their case. The song was recorded to benefit to benefit famine relief in Ethiopia, so at least it was well meaning. In the end it proves that even the greatest artists of the Sixties and Seventies didn't quite know what to do when MTV hit.

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Cher and Beavis and Butt-Head, ‘I Got You Babe’

Beavis and Butt-Head were at a high point in their career and Cher was at a low point when they teamed up to record a new version of the Sonny and Cher classic "I Got You Babe." "Is this like wuss music," Butt-Head wonders when the music starts. "This sounds like Warrant." They get excited when Cher shows up, particularly when she confirms to Butt-Head that she does indeed like young guys.

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Ozzy Osbourne and Cat Stevens, ‘Peace Train’ and ‘Crazy Train’

At their 2010 Rally To Restore Sanity Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert couldn't quite decide what kind of train could help America, so they invited Cat Stevens and Ozzy Osbourne to sing "Peace Train" and "Crazy Train." After a brief battle, they wound up singing them at the exact same time. The result was more a cacophony than a duet.

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Alice Cooper and the Muppets, ‘School’s Out’

The Muppet Show was a regular stop for rock stars in the Seventies, but perhaps the most memorable performance was when Alice Cooper came by to sing "School's Out" with the Muppets. Dressed in a cap and gown, Cooper wound up looking like the normal one when he was joined by an army of bizarre, gigantic puppets for the performance.

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Diddy and Sting, ‘I’ll Be Missing You’

Back when the MTV Video Music Awards were exciting, cool surprises happened all the time — like in 1997 when Sting joined (the artist then known as) Puff Daddy for his Notorious B.I.G. tribute "I'll Be Missing You." It actually worked perfectly, unlike the following year when he cut a song with a certain Led Zeppelin guitarist.

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Dion DiMucci, Lou Reed and David Johansen, ‘Teenager in Love’

The Grammys were crazy in the Eighties, as clearly evidenced by this rendition of "Teenager In Love" among Dion DiMucci, David Johansen (as Buster Poindexter) and Lou Reed. The three men personify New York cool in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s — but who ever thought they'd team up? YouTube exists to remind people of such landmark events.

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Iggy Pop and Kate Pierson, ‘Candy’

Iggy Pop was more than 20 years into his career when he teamed up with Kate Pierson to record "Candy." He had never had anything resembling hit, but this instantly catchy song brought him to the Top 40 for the first and last time.

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John Lydon and Afrika Bambaata, ‘World Destruction’

In the late 1970s punk and rap refined the boundaries of popular music, and in 1984 Afrika Bambaataa's group Time Zone recruited John Lydon to merge the two sounds. This was a full year before Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith dropped "Walk This Way."

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Jackson Browne and Clarence Clemons, ‘You’re a Friend of Mine’

Bruce Springsteen was so massively popular in 1985 that even his saxophonist was landing on the pop charts. This 1985 duet between Clarence Clemons and Jackson Browne (with Darryl Hannah on background vocals) hit Number 18 on the Hot 100. Word is that Clemons initially tried to get Springsteen to sing, but he tactfully told him he didn't much care for the song.

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Diddy and Jimmy Page, ‘Come With Me’

Remember when you first heard Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" and you thought to yourself, "You know what would make this song better? If Diddy repeatedly said 'uh-huh' and 'yeah' during it." On the soundtrack to the equally shitty movie Godzilla in 1998 he did exactly that. Somehow or another Jimmy Page got talked into participating in this monstrosity.

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Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield, ‘What Have I Done to Deserve This?’

In 1987 the Pet Shop Boys brought Dusty Springfield out of obscurity to sing on their song "What Have I Done To Deserve This?" The song reminded the world how amazing Springfield is, and it led to an unexpected career revival for the soul icon. Is there anything the Pet Shop Boys can't do?

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