Like some sort of fantasy couple from the depths of my inner psyche, Andrew Bird and Fiona Apple have released a beautiful music video for "Left Handed Kisses" off of the upcoming album, Are You Serious, due out April 1st. (Bird is also going on tour, the dates of which you can see here.)
I'm pretty obsessed. Besides that "Sorta Fairytale" Tori Amos video with Adrien Brody, I think this might be one of the sexier music videos I've ever seen. ( I mean, I happen to enjoy a passionate argument, and a passionate argument that also features a guitar, a violin, and Fiona Apple is the stuff of dreams.)
This video got me thinking about other duets that overflow with chemistry. Not all are romantic in nature, but there's a certain quality to them that keeps me returning to them time after time.
Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks — "Stop Dragging My Heart Around"
I know it's never going to happen, but I ship for Nicks and Petty. I saw them in Portland together when I was seventeen, and their chemistry on stage was palpable and adorable. They performed the above number (along with a few other of Petty's tunes) and it was, to be frank, transcendent.
The Band with Emmylou Harris — "Evangeline"
This song, which was featured on The Last Waltz, shows how good Canadians can be at Southern rock, and proves that you can truly be anything you want to be. Emmylou and Levon Helm lend a bit country credibility to the bayou-inspired tune, but it's Emmylou's angelic presence that makes the number.
Bonnie Raitt and John Prine — "Angel from Montgomery"
Prine wrote this song when a friend suggested he write "another song about old people" and it's one of his best. It's a sad but beautifully poignant look at the mundanity of middle age, and Bonnie's flawless vocals make it just a tiny bit more tragic.
Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland — "Dilemma"
Maybe it's because I was sixteen, but I was absolutely entranced by this video, particularly the moment when Kelly sees Nelly at the theater with some other lady friend. The forbidden sexual tension appealed to me, and I still think the song is super catchy.
The Magnetic Fields — "Papa Was a Rodeo"
Shirley Simms doesn't feature until the end of the song, but the moment she comes in with last chorus feels beyond tender, and shows how great The Magnetic Fields are at crafting and performing love songs, whether they have any basis in reality or not. The studio version (which appears on 69 Love Songs) is of course flawless, but the below live recording is a testament to the technical proficiency of everyone in the band, particularly Simms, who hits a note I can't even begin to fathom hitting. (To be fair, I am a terrible singer, but still.)
Belle & Sebastian with Monica Queen — "Lazy Line Painter Jane"
No shade to any of the four vocalists in Belle & Sebastian, but Monica Queen's vocals on this track off of Push Barman to Open Old Wounds are simply the strongest to appear on any B&S recording ever. Vocally speaking, these are hard shoes to fill, which is why the song is rarely performed live. Jenny Louis did a pretty good job back in 2010, but it still doesn't touch the raw power of Queen's performance.
Now you tell me your favorite duets. I know I failed to include some obvious ones, but these are the pairings that I never tire of. Let's also discuss "Left Handed Kisses" because I almost can't deal with how perfect it is.