Last Monday was the 16th wedding anniversary of me and my wife Kaye, a public relations executive who has her own music column in another paper. We tried to be extra sweet sixteen and recall our pre-pandemic videoke room duet-singing. That led us to the same page that the best bunch may have come from the 80s even if we were teenagers in the 90s and there are still nice duet hits coming out.
My take is, that era was superbly competitive for pop songwriting, or killer melodies as the King of Pop Michael Jackson himself called it.
Here are ten ‘80s songs and the singers behind them.
After All (Cher and Peter Cetera, 1989): This love theme from the movie Chances Are was nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars. The plot starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Cybill Shepherd was okay but I found it more interesting that this one’s from that film. Interestingly, both singers never performed the number together. But just the intro notes would make you stop what you’re doing.
Don’t Know Much (Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville, 1989): This duet version won the Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the Grammys. Once I told Kaye that both singers look like they’re eating peanuts while singing this song in perfect pitch and harmony, live.
Especially For you (Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, 1989): The British public voted this recording as a favorite 1980s number one in a 2015 poll.
First Love Never Dies (Eugene Wilde and Joanna Gardner, 1985): This tune appeared on the soundtrack of a forgotten movie titled Rappin.’ Lose yourself to the emphatic singing of these singers, especially when Wilde starts delivering the chorus from his diaphragm. The title couldn’t be more convincing.
Come Into My Life (Joe Esposito and Laura Branigan, 1988): Few people know that this number was featured in the soundtrack of the Eddie Murphy-starrer Coming To America. Yeah, “Let’s take it all the way.”
Can’t We Try (Dan Hill and Vonda Shepard, 1987): This piece became Billboard’s No. 1 Adult Contemporary Song of the Year. Kaye and I would not miss this in our private duets tracklist. We ask the same question each time.
What If We Fall In Love (Sheena Easton and Eugene Wilde, 1987): Sharonians screamed to the ends of the earth when the Megastar hooked up with then-matinee idol Richard Gomez with this number.
What Do We Mean To Each Other (Joe Pizzulo and Lisa Bevill, 1986): Why it’s credited to Sergio Mendes and not to them sounds like a puzzle, isn’t it? But who cares? The song’s a classic and so is Sergio.
What Kind of Fool (Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb, 1981): Two legends!
Come What May (Lani Hall and Herb Alpert, 1980): Alpert is the only musician who reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 both as vocalist and instrumentalist while Hall scored another classic in I Don’t Want You To Go.
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