Playlist: Rock Duets

Sometimes a duet is the best thing in the world. Other times, it’s a disaster. But it always leaves memorable stories. There’s something about two huge musicians getting together to create music that’s thrilling and exciting. Pop music is full of countless duets, but they don’t seem as popular for rock music. They certainly exist; they’re just not as abundant as they are in pop music. So let’s look at some of the most notable and popular duets in rock music. For the purpose of this playlist, a duet is a song where both artists have an equal amount of time on the track.

“Close My Eyes Forever” – Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne

This is probably the most famous rock duet. The song, which apparently came about as an accident according to Sharon Osbourne, was the third single for Lita Ford’s self-titled debut album. With sappy lyrics and a blazing guitar solo, it’s no different from the many power ballads of the era. Ozzy’s haunting vocals do add an eerie touch to the song, but it’s still pretty cheesy. Though I love Osbourne, I never liked this song. It’s too slow for my tastes and is just corny. Then again, I’d be hard press to find one power ballad from the 80s I actually like. Still, this single stands out as one of the most notable duets in rock music.

“Love Interruption” – Jack White and Ruby Amanfu

The music world went a little nuts when Jack White announced a solo album only a year after the White Stripes ended. The debut single “Love Interruption” wasn’t what people expected. There were no roaring riffs and White screaming over screeching guitars. Instead, the song is mellow, subdued, and a bit cynical. Though White could’ve easily carried the song himself, the addition of Amanfu’s smoky vocals adds an understated sensuality to the song. Something about her voice adds a raspy, soulful nature that would’ve been missing otherwise. I actually think it’s one of the strongest tracks from Blunderbuss and serves as a reminder love isn’t always pretty.

“Dancing in the Street” – Mick Jagger and David Bowie

Two of music’s iconic artists, what could go wrong? To be fair, the cover itself isn’t that bad. There’s nothing particularly special about it, but it’s fun at least. Yet, the music video will go down in infamy. It’s unbelievably bad. Jagger exaggerates everything from his facial expressions to his seizure inducing dance moves. Bowie remains cool though it looked like he left the house in some wild pajamas. And don’t forget the scene where Jagger chugs down a soda while Bowie sings. It’s probably one of the worst videos of the 80s. Hell, even Family Guy said it was the gayest music video in history. Thinking about it, there are moments where the two singers get a little too close for comfort.

“State of Shock” – Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger shows up again for a better collaboration with Michael Jackson. Recorded for The Jackson’s album Victory, the song is a raucous and kind of spastic team up with the rocker. The song was originally meant to be a duet with Freddie Mercury for the Thriller album, but scheduling conflicts kept the two from working together. Jagger was called instead and it ended up being his biggest hit away from The Rolling Stones. It’s one of those unexpected hits from Jackson’s catalog, but it’s one of the finest examples of pop and rock colliding. Later on, Jackson said he Jagger sang off key, while Jagger called Jackson “lightweight.” Anyone else think the Freddie Mercury version would’ve been epic?

“Good Times” – INXS and Jimmy Barnes

When two talented vocalists come together, they often try to outshine each other. That’s not the case here. For their contribution to The Lost Boys soundtrack, INXS teamed up with singer/songwriter Jimmy Barnes on this cover of The Easybeats song. Michael Hutchences’ smoldering vocals pair exceptionally well with Barnes’ bluesy, rock-tinged voice. They actually work together to give listeners a thrilling experience. The two sharing vocal duties along with the high energy music supporting them, it’s everything you want a good rock rolling song to be. It has a similar good time vibe as Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll.” Listening to Barnes’ vocals, you have to admit it’s reminiscent of rockers, like Robert Plant.

“Hunger Strike” – Temple of the Dog

Temple of the Dog started as a way for Chris Cornell and members of Pearl Jam to deal with the death of Mother Love Bone frontman Andrew Wood. Their debut album did exceptionally well with this song being their biggest hit single. The track features Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder on vocal duties. When two of grunge’s most notable and talented vocalists get together for a song, you know it’s going to be good. And that’s exactly what you get with this powerful, emotionally driven tune. Both artists get time to share their unique vocal styles, Vedder being gruff and raspy and Cornell’s higher range. It results in a song that’s beautiful and haunting.

“Stand by Your Man” – Wendy O. Williams and Lemmy Kilmister

Ever wonder what it would sound like if two punks ripped apart the Tammy Wynette classic “Stand By your Man?” That’s what Wendy O. Williams and Lemmy Kilmister for a single in 1982. The song is almost unrecognizable with gritty, blazing guitars making a ruckus while the two scream out the lyrics over the noise. Oddly enough, it works. It’s one of those weird covers you would never expect two rock legends to even consider. They breathe new sinister life into the country classic that makes you want to head bang. O. Williams and Kilmister teamed up again for “Jailbait,” which appeared on the Plasmatics album Kommander of Kaos. Listening to these two, it’s clear they were truly one of a kind.

“I Ain’t No Nice Guy” – Motorhead and Ozzy Osbourne

When two of hard rock’s most iconic and legendary figures team up, you expect something epic beyond belief. That’s not the result of this duet featuring Lemmy Kilmister and the Prince of Darkness. Rather than getting together for a kickass track that would melt your face off, the two sing a ballad instead. It’s a slow, somber song made for radio airplay. It actually became a huge hit for Motorhead’s tenth album March or Die. It’s a decent song and features a slow burning solo from guitar hero Slash, but it won’t hit that sweet spot for most metalheads. It’s just so unexpected for the rockers. What’s even more surprising is seeing Ozzy with a five o’clock shadow in the video. Yikes.

“A Tout Le Monde” – Megadeth and Christina Scabbia

This song originally appeared on Megadeth’s sixth album Youthanasia and quickly became a staple for the band. At the time of its release, it garnered controversy for its music video. MTV banned it claiming it promoted suicide, which Dave Mustaine was quick to dismiss. The band re-recorded the song in 2007 for the album United Abominations with Christina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil. Aside from some slight alterations, like a faster pace, there;s not much difference aside from Scabbia singing an entire verse showing off her vocal chops. The song keeps its sentimentality intact along with its hard hitting sound and slightly aggressive mood. Many may prefer the original, but this re-recording is a great blend of old school and new school.

“Walk This Way” – Run DMC and Aerosmith

These days the world of rock and rap often combine for both awesome and questionable results. But back in the 80s, the two were seen as exclusive genres that should never cross paths. Run DMC and Aerosmith broke that barrier with this duet. When it was released in 1986 it blew everyone’s collective minds. Not only did Run DMC cover this classic rock track, they even got Steven Tyler and Joe Perry to join them. The song is still amazing to this day and remains one of the best mash-ups ever. It, of course, would go on to inspire other rock/rap collabs, such as Jay-z and Linkin Park (remember when that was a thing?)

“The One You Love to Hate” – Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson

Two heavy metal giants, both who are considered the best vocalists in the genre, team up for this roaring track. Recorded for Halford’s debut album Ressurection, the song features Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson on vocals. You’d expect to be beyond amazing and the most bad ass thing you’ve ever heard. In reality, it’s okay. It feels more like a Dickinson track since his voice overpowers everything and Halford is stuck on back up duty. It’s a pretty standard metal song with soaring vocals, blazing guitars and a lot of aggression. It’s not bad; just not very remarkable.

“Don’t Fear the Reaper” – HIM and Sanna-June Hyde

On HIM’s debut album, the band provided a haunting rendition of the Blue Oyster Cult classic. This version brings out all the darkness and grim view that’s implied in the lyrics. And frontman Ville Valo’s baritone vocals provide are a perfect match. Adding some brightness to the track is Finnish actor Sanna-June Hyde. She provided guest vocals for this track and “For You” early in her career. She’s not necessarily the best singer but her voice surprisingly well with Valo’s. There’s also something eerie about their voices. Still one of the best covers of this song.

“Under Pressure” – Queen and David Bowie

The thought of Queen and David Bowie doing a song together sounds like a dream. This amazing collaboration resulted in one of the best songs of the 80s. It’s an undeniable classic; pairing Bowie’s mellow vocals with Freddie Mercury’s dramatic bravado leads to a beautiful sonic experience. And try not to get chills during the bridge when Mercury pleads “Why can’t we give love/give love/give love?” The song became a huge hit for both artists and remains their most notable. Of course, the riff would be stolen by Vanilla Ice in the 90s, who claimed it wasn’t the same song.

Which is your favorite rock duet? Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments!


Top 10 Unconventional Christmas Songs

Christmas is almost upon us and that means going through a third straight month of Christmas songs. They’re playing in the malls, they’re playing on the radio, they’re playing on TV. You can’t escape them! But there is a way to escape the monotony. While there are some great Christmas classics out there by this point you may be dying to hear something new. Luckily for you, there are funny, cynical, catchy, and just plain weird Christmas songs out there for everyone. Here are 10 of the best unconventional Christmas songs to get you back in the spirit of the season.

  1. “I Wish It Was Christmas Today”- Julian Casablancas

The sleepy eyed front man for The Strokes took one of the best SNL holiday sketches and turned it into a full length track. While nothing beats the original skits, this version does the jingle justice. It’s fun, catchy, and will quickly become your new holiday classic. It’s something everyone can enjoy and sing along with. And something about Casablanca’s deep, monotone voice feels perfect for the track. If anything it’ll make you look up those classic skits once the song ends.

  1. “X-M@$”- Corey Taylor

This is a song for anyone who hates the holidays. Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor sings about why the holidays suck and that the only way to get through them is to be stinking drunk. It’s a hilarious song whether you love or hate Christmas. Taylor’s snarl and cynicism makes him perfect for the track. Even if you do love the season, you have to admit there are some moments that you hate, like carolers, mall crowds, and commercialization, all of which Taylor pokes fun at in this song. Put on this song when you need a moment to vent about the holidays.

  1. “Sock It To Me Santa”- Bob Seger and The Last Heard

This odd song from Bob Seger puts a little funk in your holiday. It takes both the classic riff and line from the James Brown song “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” It’s got such a great soul funk infused sound that it’ll get you dancing around the Christmas tree. Who knew Seger could rock this hard. My only question is what does he mean when he says “Sock it to me Santa?” Is he trying to proposition him or does he want St. Nick to punch him in the jaw. You know what, don’t focus on that. Dance your ass off instead.

  1. “The Night Santa Went Crazy”- Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al is the king of parody and humorous songs, so it’s only natural that he would have a hilarious Christmas track. It’s a ditty about a night when Santa just couldn’t take it anymore and decided to murder everyone, including his beloved reindeer. He pops in on his elves rifle in hand with “cheap whiskey on his breath.” He continues on his killing rampage until the authorities capture Santa and put him in the slammer. After this song you’ll never picture St. Nick the same way again. Maybe it’s best to not play this one if you have children around.

  1. “Merry Something to You”- Devo

This short, but sweet holiday tune from the always weird Devo reaches out to everyone. Rather than focus solely on Christmas, the band wishes everyone a happy holiday, whether you’re Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. The song is classic Devo all the way as it has the weird synth, electronic based music that they’re known for. The best part comes at the end where they sing “dee-dee-dee-lit-do.” Even though it’s on the weird side it still has a positive message of wishing everyone a happy holiday.

  1. “Things I Want”- Tenacious D & Sum 41

Tenacious D wants you to have a very metal Christmas with this song. This track has the 80’s metal feel to it with the blazing guitar riff and the Rob Halford-esque vocals provided by Jack Black. Sum 41 only provides the music, but since they are old school metal fans themselves they do a pretty good job of making this sound like a song from Judas Priest. The song itself is really funny with Black listing a bunch of improbable “cool shit” he wants from Santa, like “A solid gold Harley with machine guns on the front,” “All the Beatles copyrights,” and “Florida off the map.” A rocking song for a rocking Christmas.

  1. “Just Another Christmas Song”- Stephen Colbert

This is probably the funniest and most honest song about Christmas all provided by funny man Stephen Colbert. Though not a singer himself Colbert sounds pretty good with his own lounge singer like style. This track mainly pokes fun at the consumerism of the season and how he made the song in the first place to earn more money in royalties. Oddly enough, it sounds like something Seth McFarlene would do; don’t be surprised if he does a cover of it in the future (duet with Colbert would be better). This fun song is a great way to spice up your Christmas play list.

  1. “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas”- Blink-182

Here’s yet another cynical song about what a pain the holidays are. This track has the classic Blink sound and attitude with the opening line declaring “Outside the carolers sing/I can’t describe the joy they bring/cause joy is something they don’t bring me.” Mark Hoppus even makes a reference to the elves calling them “Satan’s Helpers.” It’s a great song that shows no matter how fun the holidays are there are always those moments that just annoy the piss out of us. Another anti-holiday track to check out by the boys is “Happy Holidays, You Bastard.” This one doesn’t solely focus on Christmas, but the first verse is dedicated to it. Overall, it shows why you only meet with your family once a year.

  1. “Thank God It’s Christmas”- Queen

Yes, Queen made a Christmas song and it’s as epic as you think it is. This holiday tune has the big sound and dramatic feel of the band’s biggest hits, so it’s odd how this is rarely played on the Christmas stations. Mercury’s amazing and powerful voice gives the song some weight and for some reason, it seems to exemplify what the season is supposed to be about: being together with loved ones and enjoying the beauty of the holiday. For some reason, I picture streets lined with decorated houses for Christmas whenever I hear this song. It’s an underrated holiday song that really deserves some more love.

  1. “Christmas in Hollis”- Run DMC

Ever since I was little this has been my favorite Christmas song. It’s original, memorable, and fun as hell to sing along to. Not only is it a classic, but you can’t overlook that it was groundbreaking for its time. This showed rap fans they had something to jam to during the holidays. There are so many fun and attention-grabbing moments, with my personal favorite being “It’s Christmas time in Hollis queens/mom’s cooking chicken and collard greens.” It could be because it made me think of my mom’s own home cooking, but either way, the song is awesome and still sounds great today. This is one song you have to hear at least once during Christmas.

Bonus: “Homo Christmas”- Pansy Division

Though this didn’t make the top ten, this song is too hilarious and unique to not be mentioned. In case you don’t know, Pansy Division is a queer punk band that’s been going strong since the early 90’s. They’re notable because their songs deal with gay themes. They even covered Nirvana’s hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit” under the guise “Smells Like Queer Spirit.” Just by looking at the title you know this isn’t a Christmas song to enjoy with the family. If you can’t guess what it’s about, here it is summed up for you in the opening line: “You’ll probably get sweaters/Underwear and socks/But what you’d really like for Christmas/Is a nice hard cock.” This is perfect for those who wants some sexy in their season instead of yule tide carols and fruit cake.

Do you know anymore weird or crazy Christmas songs? Let me know in the comments  and enjoy the holidays!