(Mostly) Sweet Duets For Valentine’s Day

by Kevin Burton

   Love is in the air, not to mention on all the store shelves. I’m sure you’ve noticed.

   Gentlemen, you’re on this, right? One week from today, Valentine’s Day.

   OK, to get you in the mood, we’ll have not one, but two posts this week dealing with duets. For Valentine’s Day you’ll be thinking of the ultra-sweet love song duets.  I will too primarily, but not all the songs on my lists will fit that mold.

   In 2011 Billboard put together a list of the 40 biggest duets in history.  I picked ten of my favorites from their list to talk about today. I’ll let you know how I ranked them and how Billboard did.

   Tomorrow I will talk about ten duets that are my favorites, but didn’t make Billboard’s list.

    “With Valentine’s Day’s celebration of couples in mind, our experts dove into over 50 years of Hot 100 hits to single out the biggest songs by two singers to ever hit the chart,” Billboard wrote.

    As Casey Kasem used to say, on with the countdown:

10 (Billboard 9) “Islands In The Stream” by Kenny Rogers  and Dolly Parton, 1983.
   “Some 40 years ago, star power didn’t shine much brighter than that of Rogers and Parton,” Billboard wrote. I always thought there was something quirky and un-country about this hit by two of the biggest country stars ever. Then I found out the song was written by the Bee Gees.

9 (Billboard 35) “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher, 1965.
   “Iconic ’60-’70s husband and wife duo Sonny & Cher had several hits during their career, but none came to define the pair quite like ‘I Got You Babe,’” Billboard wrote.  “The track spent three weeks atop of Hot 100 in 1965. In addition to wooing couples across the globe, the hit grew to become an easy going love ballad for the hippie generation.”

8. (Billboard 20) “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” by Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond, 1978.
   This song was never meant to be a duet according to Billboard.

   “Diamond released his version months before Streisand’s. It wasn’t until inventive WAKY Louisville, programmer Gary Guthrie created a mixed edit that audiences heard the now-classic dual version. Columbia then released the song with both superstars. In just six chart weeks, it became the third Hot 100 No. 1 for each.

7 (Billboard 29) “Up Where We Belong” by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes.

   This song is inextricably tied to the movie An Officer and a Gentleman. “The song not only stayed at number one on the Hot 100 for three weeks in 1982, it also won both the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for best original song for a film in 1983,” Billboard wrote.

6 (Billboard 13) “Reunited,, by Peaches and Herb, 1979.
   “The only good thing about breaking up is that it opens the door for making up — a topic that R&B duo Peaches & Herb explored in their 1979 hit “Reunited.” The slow-burning jam became a crossover smash, topping both the Hot 100 and R&B Singles charts.”

   Here’s to second chances!

5 (Billboard 21) “You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To be in My Show),” by Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., 1976.
   “Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. didn’t have to struggle to find their chemistry in the studio. Not only had the pair been married for seven years when they recorded this 1976 R&B classic, they’d already spent a decade making beautiful music together as part of ’70s soul quintet The 5th Dimension.

4 (Billboard 18) “Somethin’ Stupid” by Frank Sinatra and Nancy Sinatra. 1967.

   Ah the L word.  It’s a wonder there aren’t more songs about how/when/ whether to employ the L word in a new and growing relationship.  This was the only father-daughter duet to reach number one.

   Nancy had one other number one with “These Boots Were Made For Walkin.” But did you know Frank also only had one other chart topper (“Strangers in the Night,” 1966)?  I would have never guessed that.

3 (Billboard 10) “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee,1976. 
   “If Don’t Go Breaking My Heart is all you know about Kiki Dee, do some research. You’re going to like what you find. Especially “I’ve Got The Music In Me,” 1974.

2 (Billboard 25) “Easy Lover” by Philip Bailey and Phil Collins, 1984.

    This is the one not so lovey-dovey song I chose from Billboard’s list.
   “Phil Bailey, the longtime member of Earth, Wind & Fire, and former Genesis drummer Phil Collins came together for this song  off Bailey’s 1984 album “Chinese Wall.” The track was Bailey’s biggest hit by far,” Billboard wrote.\

1 (Billboard 24) “You’re The One That I Want” by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, 1978.
   “The peppy collaboration between “Grease” stars Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 in June 1978. “You’re The One That I Want,” along with the actors’ other duet “Summer Nights,” helped the soundtrack to the hit 1978 film become certified eight-times platinum, according to the RIAA.” Billboard wrote.

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