For centuries, men have known that the real power of music lies in its ability to get you laid. From "panty-dropper" mixtapes that your parents made back in the day, to John Cusack standing outside the window with Peter Gabriel on the boombox, to that little boy banging on the drums in Love Actually, music has sped the plow. Here are ten of the hottest duet pairings in which the partners used this premise to generate undeniable heat in the studio, which obviously translated well on the records for the listeners, and some of which later led to greater intimacy outside the studio for the participants. On this Valentine's Day, may you get as lucky as Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin did in the studio way back in 1969.
10. Beyoncé & Jay-Z Once upon a time, a 34-year-old rising rapper/mogul known for "taking down" his share of actresses and R&B singers recruited a fresh-faced, 22-year-old Southern belle to duet with him on this "Bonnie & Clyde '03." Whatever you're thinking right now, the world was thinking even more back in 2002, when this track hit the airwaves. At the time, Hov and B denied any romantic involvement, but as Jay-Z has said himself, he only raps the truth -- so what are we to make of lines like "Only time we don't talk is during Sex and the City/She gets Carrie fever, but soon as the show's over/It's right back to me and my soldier"? If that wasn't enough evidence, listen to Beyonce as she interpolated the Prince lyric: "If I was your girlfriend/I'll be there for you if somebody hurt you even if that somebody was me/Sometimes I trip on how happy we could be."
9. Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson met in church. They sang together and quickly became a musical duo. An innocent, lovely story, right? Not so fast: Let's judge this book by its album cover. A quick look at some song and album titles reveals what may have been music's most freaky-deaky songwriting partnership. Now we know why Nick stayed looking like a much younger man until he passed away.
8. Brandy & Wanya R&B, as a genre, is rife with duets. Some are great, some bad; most of them lead to some uglies bumping into each other, either in the studio or in the listeners' homes. Allegedly, Brandy's virginity was no match for the awesome power of her duet "Brokenhearted" with Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men. A story that has been recounted by Brandy herself on her Behind the Music special, a then-fifteen-year-old Brandy was on tour opening for then megastars Boyz II Men, and Brandy was crushing something fierce on Wanya. He soon took an interest in recording a remix duet of her song "Brokenhearted," and soon after that, she confessed her love and they began a secret affair, secret so as to protect Brandy's image. One day, a much older Wanya finds someone else to love and throws Brandy away, but for two years, it was smoking-hot secret makeout sessions!
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7. June Carter & Johnny Cash Some studio hookups can last a lifetime. June was "handpicked" by Johnny to sing some songs with him and his band after her family's band had accompanied him on tour. It wasn't too long before Johnny stopped the music in the middle of a show and proposed to June in public. "Jackson" is flirty and edgy in a way only a couple with a very healthy sex life would know.
6. David Bowie & Freddie Mercury You've heard that longstanding rumor about Mick Jagger started by Angela Bowie. Unfortunately, "Dancing in the Streets," their 1985 duet, is too terrible to make this list. Rampant internet speculation is as close as we get to the truth about Freddie Mercury and David Bowie. They met while Queen was recording in Montreux, where Bowie was living at the time. Here is what we know: 1) Both men were at the height of their fame, young, attractive and DTF. 2) Freddie Mercury got it IN! a lot. Like all the time. He took down men and women on the reg. 3) Bowie was no slouch, and come on, he's one pretty man. Throw in some drugs and the liberated air in Switzerland, and who knows? All we have are unreleased tracks and "Under Pressure," and that's kind of enough, right?
5. Prince & Sheila E The "artist formerly known as freaky" deserves his own tier for musical hookups. No duet on this list can match "Erotic City" in pure filthy hookup heat. You may remember this song from your childhood, or at least the first 45 seconds. If you were born after 1984, you most likely had to go into the other room whenever this came on -- and for good reason. At the time, Sheila was a hot, up-and-coming percussionist in whom Prince showed a special interest. Lyrics like "All of my hangups are gone/How I wish you felt the same," and "We can fuck until the dawn/Erotic City come alive" underscore the tension that must have been in the studio as these two "friends" recorded their first (first!) song together.
4. Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb This is pure speculation, especially since Babs is so secretive. Let's examine the facts at hand, though: First, Streisand was single at the time that she and Barry Gibb recorded together. The content of the material they recorded is Barbra's most sexually charged (and successful). Both stars were white-hot at the time, and the album is called Guilty (Guilty!). Given all those facts, it's still only about 50 percent sure that they hooked up, because Streisand was such a professional. You be the judge: Notoriously stage-shy Babs is looking pretty comfy in her matching outfit with Barry -- pretty comfy, indeed.
3. Keith Sweat & Jacci McGhee Keith Sweat & Jacci McGhee's 1988 duet is the stuff of legend: It's sexy, soulful and damn near perfect. Is it any surprise that it happened because Keith met Jacci on tour and "wanted to hit," as he put it? But don't take our word for it: Listen to Keith tell the story.
2. Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin Leave it to the French to just simply get to the point, or "le petit mort," as it were. In 1969, (you just can't make this stuff up), Serge, one of France's biggest stars, hit the studio with his lover Jane Birkin to "record an album of duets." The quotations are necessary because what happened in the studio was mostly sex, plus a little music. The proof lies in the worldwide hit "Je t'aime...moi non plus," which features, among other things, the sound of Jane's orgasm at the end of the song. In typical French style, Gainsbourg claimed the song was an existential exercise "about the desperation and impossibility of love," something he said right after he asked Birkin to put her face in the pillow.
1. Rick James & Teena Marie Let's set the scene here: It's the late '70s at the Motown offices, and a pretty new signee to the label, plucked fresh from a bubblegum girls' group, catches the lustful, freaky eye of one Rick James. He immediately begins "working closely" with the new artist, writing and producing songs for her debut album and even singing a duet or two with her. All of this is amazing considering the amount of sex they are having. Two years later, as the last embers are burning out on the joint that was their affair, the two of them record their last duet together. The result is the Rosetta Stone of duets. I believe that God has them singing this for him live this Valentine's Day.
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