Air Supply and the Other Greatest Dude Duets of All Time
Though they flamed out faster than John Bobbitt's adult-film career, Air Supply can always lay claim to early-'80s light-rock godhood. In a post-Carpenters world, they kept us going, man.
The group's founding duo — guitarist Graham Russell and singer-songwriter Russell Hitchcock — have another, less obvious claim to fame: They have written and performed some of the best dude duets of all time.
It's an odd, powerful thing, the dude duet. With all that amplified, overlapping masculine angst and emotiveness, it can be quite moving. And, yes, quite fruity.
Air Supply is scheduled to perform on Sunday, January 16, at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale.
So here's to all the dude duets we loved before. Or the top 10, anyway.
10. "The Sound of Silence" (1965): Let's attack this whole Simon & Garfunkel issue head-on: If raw listenability were the sole metric, the childhood chaverim from Forest Hills, New York, would probably place three or four songs on this list. But are any of the duo's myriad hit singles true duets? Harmonies, sure. Duets, debatable. Usually, it was one guy taking the lead — in this case, the rangier, more soulful Garfunkel — coupled with some sweet-ass harmonizing. Sweet. Ass.
9. "Ebony and Ivory" (1982): Conventional wisdom holds this number one hit from Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder to be one of history's worst songs: a groping, benighted, patronizing wisp of candied musical feces. No argument. It still makes us smile.
8. "Let It Be Me" (1964): Just as leaving Simon & Garfunkel off this list would be unconscionable, so would sand-bagging the group that inspired their early work: The Everly Brothers. The caveat is also the same: They harmonized but rarely exchanged leads, so their duetitude is uncertain.
7. "Hunger Strike" (1991): Chris Cornell's lacerating, Robert Plant-style vocals prove the ideal foil for Eddie Vedder's guttural introspection in this grunge-era classic, a rousing '90s anthem of anger, indignation, and guilt. Maybe the butchest dude duet ever.
6. "Under Pressure" (1981): You will not find the abominable David Bowie/Mick Jagger cover of "Dancing in the Streets" on the list; however, you will find this Bowie/Queen collaboration, which finds "Ziggy Stardust" singer and a robust Freddie Mercury making like Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor around a microphone; a fluid, nimble duet.
5. "All Out of Love" (1980): Listening to this Air Supply classic is like bleeding out in a bathtub; it's pleasant, in a way, but also numbing and ineffably, distantly sad. Scented candle and straight-edge razor sold separately.
4. "Easy Lover" (1984): Who knew that a trollish Cockney balladeer (Phil Collins) and a siren-voiced African-American soulsman (Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire) could pair up so tunefully? Probably Collins' best single, but Bailey steals the show with his soaring "she's the kind of girl you dream of" solo bits.
3. "Lost in Love" (1980): This is the song that cracked the U.S. market for Air Supply, introducing audiences to a pair of achingly sincere Australians who evidently had no idea that the song would enjoy regular rotation at high school prom dances for decades to come. Hitchcock, with his slightly nasal inflection, emotes like his Jew-fro depends on it.
2. "Nothin' But a 'G' Thang" (1993): The Socrates and Plato of L.A. hip-hop (Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg) wax reflective in this "laaaaid back" single from Dre's The Chronic album. Still the tightest hip-hop dude duet around.
1. "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" (1984): They said a Latin crooner and a hemp-stained country troubadour couldn't sell records singing about the legions of chicks they banged, but they were wrong. Spectacularly wrong. At once sentimental and smug, this Julio Iglesias/Willie Nelson classic stands tall over the dude duet canon.
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