Duets, duettists duos: Entertaining the listening public

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Sep 2019 Duets, duettists duos: Entertaining the listening public

By Derek Mead

THERE has always been doubt and sometimes cynicism about musical/vocal duets available to the listening public many of which have become famous only by repetitive playing and overstated publicity.

Currently, the media offers offers a very limited menu – for example, Kiki Dee and Elton John singing Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, which is a sort of standard offering on a regular basis and may perhaps be over-rated as could other similar duettists. These are often played to the detriment of other vocalists who have great voices but are so often overlooked.

Why are duets necessary at all and why should two vocalists usually male/female find it necessary to to sing together when song is basically the duty of a single soloist to entertain?

Should only established duettists perform, or should otherwise solo artistes/duos, who come together from time-to-time, be permitted to intervene: for example Simon & Garfunkel, who have greatly influenced popular music – The Proclaimers – Carpenters and others.

Many individual vocalists may have superior voices to regular duettists and feel no need to sing with a partner. Duets need shaking up, modernising and improving! I am offering 10 personal ‘duet’ choices to partly replace the current limited menu, and the rules have been bent just a little for the good of musical entertainment.

Some numbers are from established duettists others from duos soloists and others and readers will no doubt criticise, replace and improve upon. All popular music, including duets, must entertain, and the reasons for mychoices take this into account – ahead of others matters, such as the popularity of the vocalists and the atmosphere created by them singing together.

Here they are!

Simon & Garfunkel 1964 ‘The Sound Of Silence’.
Amazingly, the original version never charted although it became the 18th most-performed song of the 20th Century. It reached the Top 10 in numerous countries and is considered to be a classic folk song. The Bachelors version from 1966, was placed third in the hit parade. There is a connection to the JFK assassination and it was released three months after that event.

Carpenters 1970 ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’.
An obvious choice and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Song of the Year. Often used as a wedding song, it became the duos third single, and Karen and Richard consider it their signature song.
It was their best performer with seven weeks a tNo.1 in the US Adult Contemporary singles chart. Richard did not play the piano and stood close to Karen. Most interesting cover was Johnny Mathis 1971.

John Denver/Cass Elliott 1972 ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’.
The song is for fun but the title is poignant. Both died early – Cass in 1974 aged 32, and John in 1997, aged 53, when his plane crashed in California. Both voices are well remembered, with Cass having one of the finest female singing voices of recent years. Not a dry eye!

The Proclaimers 1988 ‘Sunshine On Leith’.
This is a modem folk song with some religious connections popular throughout Scotland, sung with strong Scottish accents by Charlie and Craig Reid. It is their second studio album released in 1988, and the song is about their birthplace in Leith in the north of Edinburgh, with a stage musical and film being released in 2007 and 2013.

It is apparently the unofficial anthem of the local football club Hibernian FC.

These are the first few. More next month. Readers may have their own choice, so write in and tell us.