Double Duds: The 10 Worst Duets Since "Ebony and Ivory"

ebony and ivory.jpg
This duet sucks.

Thirty years ago this week, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder hit No. 1 on the charts with their duet, "Ebony and Ivory." The song spent seven weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and the past three decades as a joke.

Perhaps history's most hackneyed call for racial harmony (which, admittedly, is a good thing), "Ebony and Ivory" is pretty impossible to take seriously in 2012. It's even been named the worst duet of all time in a few polls. But is it really that bad?

Well, yes, it is pretty bad. But it's not the worst duet ever.

"Ebony and Ivory?" It can still make for some amusing karaoke, can't it? There have been plenty worse duets put out since, with all the crap that's been produced in the past three decades. Maybe "Ebony and Ivory" was the worst duet ever at one time, but that was, like, 17 boy bands ago. The worst of pop has caught up and surpassed it.

You want proof? You got it. Behold the official Rocks Off list-post of the ten worst duets released in the past 30 years. Consider yourself warned -- this is going to suck in stereo.

10. Bono & Frank Sinatra, "I've Got You Under My Skin": By 1993, the Chairman of the Board was all but done as a recording artist, so somebody came up with the brilliant idea to record a bunch of superstar Sinatra fans singing along to his pre-recorded vocal parts and sell it as a duets album. Supposedly, Sinatra himself personally chose the participants, but I'm having a hard time picturing Frank as genuinely excited about the prospect of collaborating with Kenny G.

There are more than a couple sketchy collabos on the Duets disc -- really, Sinatra's heard of Natalie Cole? -- but it's the ever-modest Bono who turns in the biggest travesty. The smug-as-fuck U2 front man coos and chews his way through a big-band arrangement of the Cole Porter classic "I've Got You Under My Skin." His falsetto warbling here is particularly offensive, likely to have earned him a Rat Pack bitch-slap in a bygone era.


9. Nelly & Tim McGraw, "Over and Over": Somewhere out there, somebody thought this was a good idea. It seems almost logical that it could work -- country and pop stars have raked in big bucks in recent years by crossing over, so why not try out a shotgun wedding between country and "Country Grammar"?

Enough people were seeing the dollar signs to convince Tim McGraw and Nelly to try what no one had ever been able to do before: create a country/hip-hop hybrid that wouldn't be played for laughs. Surprise! They failed.

This song contains nothing of what people love about either country or hip-hop. There's no story, no wit and no charm here. It only works as a bizarre pop curiosity, which was apparently enough to take it to the top of the charts in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the UK in 2004. It wasn't enough, however, to convince me that Tim and Nelly have ever actually met one another in real life.


8. Britney Spears & Madonna, "Me Against the Music": It was supposed to be huge. "Me Against the Music" was put together to capitalize on the heat produced when Brit-Brit and Madonna locked lips at the 2003 VMAs. A sexy dance track with these two should have been a no-brainer, but it came out weird. Britney's doing these half-rapping, half-singing verses, like ""I'm up against the speaker / Trying to take on the music / It's like a competition."

No, a competition would have been cool. Instead, we get Madonna crooning about saving Britney's soul. I assume she got her a Kabbalah bracelet. This major production pairing two megastars was liked well enough to go No. 1 in Denmark. I'm sure that issue of Billboard is framed in Britney's office.



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