The week of Valentine’s Day, we did a breakup songs list and nothing else relating to love. This week, we have given off a couples barrage with reviews of Sleigh Bells and Tennis, two duos, and now this list. While most bands are five, the Beatles were the Fab Four, and three is a magic number, two can no doubt still kill it in rock & roll. Here is our top ten musical duos.
10. The Knife
The masked Swedish brother-sister duo create one of the more intoxicating brands of electronic music, highlighted in their 2006 masterwork, Silent Shout. Proving once more, Scandinavia is one weird, enchanted place.
9. Black Star
Set to reunite this year, two of the best social conscious rappers, Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey (formerly known is Mos Def), made one near perfect rap album in 1999, but still managed to leave quite a mark on hip hop. Look for the two at Bonnaroo this year.
8. The Chemical Brothers
These two Brits fused dance, rock, and rap into one of the best electronic acts of the past twenty years. It doesn’t hurt either that they put on one monumental live show.
7. Sleigh Bells
The band that was the reason for making this list also deservedly made the list. While the New York duo is only two albums young, what has come out thus far is fantastic enough and groundbreaking enough to earn a nod.
6. Steely Dan
Your dad’s favorite rock band may not be the greatest band in the world, but they should no doubt merit your respect. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen are absolute studio gurus, and released several good jazz-influenced rock albums in the 70s.
5. Simon & Garfunkel
The greatest folk duo of all time, Simon & Garfunkel were one of the preeminent voices of the 60s and have created numerous folk standards of their own. This is a duo where one half is clearly greater than the other (Paul knocks out Art every day of the week), but Garfunkel’s skills harmonizing as a tenor wonderfully complements Simon’s whispery vocals and poetic songwriting.
4. The Black Keys
Alongside the White Stripes, these two suburban kids from Akron, Ohio have revitalized the blues in rock music over the past decade, making seven great records and finally breaking out to commercial success in the past couple years. Dan Auerbach’s souful crooning and reverb-drenched guitar works just perfectly over Patrick Carney’s thunderous drumming.
3. Daft Punk
These two French robots shrouded in myth and mystery have brought through a new wave of house and electronic dance music. Not only have songs like “One More Time”, “Around The World”, and “Digital Love” rocked dance floors around the world, but Daft Punk has also figured prominently on Youtube, in rap music, and in the remake of Tron.
While the two can’t seem to share a room these days, Outkast made for one electric rap duo in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. The two rap styles balance each other wonderfully, with Andre 3000’s funky, fast, and highly creative flow well complementing Big Boi’s understated, classic, but equally lightning fast delivery.
1. The White Stripes
The White Stripes were our undisputed number one, which may be surprising to some since Meg White is usually at best considered a serviceable drummer. In my mind though, that’s part of what makes the White Stripes great: Meg simply provides the simple backbone on top of which Jack White blows your mind. If the Stripes drummer was any better, that person would take away from Jack White’s spotlight, thus breaking a law of rock music; more Jack White is always better.
Three musical pairings that couldn’t muster enough momentum to make the list:
Austin: Flight of the Conchords
The self-proclaimed “fourth most popular Kiwi folk-parody duo”, Flight of the Conchords just missed our list on back-to-back weeks, missing last week’s breakup songs list with “I’m Not Crying”. Unfortunately, Bret and Jemaine will still be crying this week.
Wes: Beach House
Victoria Legrande’s dreamy vocals rest sweetly upon Alex Scally’s billowy guitar which makes for a very reflective, timeless form of pop music. It’s great for every season of the year, contrary to their name.
Todd: The Kills
The smoky, garage punk duo also is coupled in with garage rock duos The Stripes and The Keys, though Alison Mosshart brings her very ferocious female presence into the category. The two will also chew you up and spit you out live.
So there is the list. Let us know what we unforgivably missed, or got right, but still feel free to just rip on us in general.