This week is a mini-tour of duets. Like cover versions, duets can be novelty or create new meaning through strange pairings. Music award shows are fond of it - often bringing the new and old together in some attempt to bridge gaps while lending credibility to the newer artist and revitalizing the older one. Just like my tendency to despise award shows, I usually don't like award show duets where everything seems forced and gimmicky. I still remember the ridiculous furore at the Grammys when Elton John decided to duet with homophobic Eminem or that bizarre group collaboration singing Across the Universe in 2005 which makes me physically ill to this day. Apparently, this year's Grammys was no different, but I didn't watch them. I merely heard that Kanye West appeared with Daft Punk in what was less of a duet than it was a live sampling, and some pairing of Tina Turner and Beyonce that was more like Beyonce introducing Tina Turner than an actual duet (I still can't get over Jonathan Ross's impression of Tina Turner - it was the funniest and truest impression I've ever seen). The Brit Awards this year also did its fair share of unlikely pairings like Rihanna and Klaxons, which more or less made the latter the former's backing band, and the startling duet of Mika and Beth Ditto in the middle of his performance (as strange as the Sweet Dreams duet they did at T in the Park last year and just as bad).
In this particular mix, I've included some classic duets like The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl's perrennial Chistmas favourite Fairytale of New York; David Bowie and Freddie Mercury's anthemic Under Pressure, which has been pillaged for its bassline and covered over and over without ever coming close to the original; and Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel's song of economic despair, Don't Give Up. I've also included some fascinating cover versions by perfect duets - Bjork and PJ Harvey's sinister take on The Rollings Stones' Satisfaction; Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright's fun live version of George Michael's Careless Whisper; Cat Power and Karen Elson's gender bending cover of Serge Gainsbourg's I Love You Me Either; and Jarvis Cocker and Beth Ditto's funky interpretation of Heaven 17's Temptation (a perfect blend with Cocker's laconic low voice and Ditto's powerful, soulful voice); and Morrissey and Siouxsie's Interlude, a surreal blending of voices that somehow works to great effect. To round everything out, I added some of my favourite original songs performed as duets - Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue's haunting Where the Wild Roses Grow with an equally beautiful music video; Gary Lightbody and Martha Wainwright's Set the Fire to the Third Bar, in my opinion, the only truly moving song on Snow Patrol's latest album; Patrick Wolf and Marianne Faithfull performing Magpie on Wolf's latest album, the former's higher, youthful voice contrasting wonderfully with Faithfull's gravelly, deep voice; and the incredible lilting All Flowers in Time Bend Towards the Sun by Jeff Buckley and Elizabeth Fraser, a song I never tire of listening to.
I'm going to call this mix Dynamic Duos. These duets are a million times better than anything an award show can concoct.
Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl
Burning Down the House - Tom Jones and The Cardigans
What Have I Done to Deserve This? - Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield
Temptation - Jarvis Cocker and Beth Ditto
Well, Did You Evah! - Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop
Backlash - Joan Jett and Paul Westerberg
Under Pressure - Queen and David Bowie
Hell No - Sondre Lerche and Regina Spektor
Academia - Sia and Beck
Redemption Song - Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer
Satisfaction - Bjork and PJ Harvey
Nothing Compares 2 U - Prince and Rosie Gaines
Careless Whisper - Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright
Don't Give Up - Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel
Where the Wild Roses Grow - Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue
Set the Fire to the Third Bar - Snow Patrol and Martha Wainwright
Magpie - Patrick Wolf and Marianne Faithfull
Interlude - Morrissey and Siouxsie
All Flowers in Time Bend Towards the Sun - Jeff Buckley and Elizabeth Fraser
I Love You Me Either - Cat Power and Karen Elson
Weekly Mix #9 (Megaupload)