I am a sucker for songs/bands that feature both male and female vocalists, like Arcade Fire, Mates of State and the granddaddy of them all, Fleetwood Mac. I love the call-and-response format of a good duet, although I prefer the more casual, unexpected kind — like some really cool chick showed up in the garage where the band was practicing and decided to pick up a mic — over the glitzy, hyper-produced kind à la “Islands in the Stream” or “Endless Love.” (But don’t get me wrong, “All Cried Out” is easily one of the best songs. Ever.)
I’m also a huge fan of songs that blend the male and female voices. There’s just something about the way the two genders’ voices entwine into gorgeous harmonies, all the while singing lyrics that are typically about discordant relationships and pain and loss, that gives me shivers.
I’ve compiled a short list of some of my favorites for your viewing pleasure:
“My Only Offer” – Mates of State. This song kills me every time. The seemingly upbeat tempo only makes the stark reality of the banality of married life all the more jarring.
“Just a Dream” – Great Northern. My friend Katy turned me on to this band and song, and it has haunted me ever since. It is so rich and beautiful, and so very sad.
“Nothing Better” – The Postal Service. The relationship might be falling apart, but the song sure is catchy. Plus it features guest vocals by Jenny Lewis, who will always be a Troop Beverly Hills cookie-timer to me.
“Sometimes Always” – The Jesus and Mary Chain. Like the clip before, a call-and-response song about a relationship exploding…in such a fun fashion. Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star’s melancholy voice has the same effect on me as a full-bodied glass of red wine: it makes my insides warm, a little sleepy and a little sad, and it is delicious.
“Tusk” – Fleetwood Mac. Admittedly not one of the best examples of the band’s pitch-perfect harmonies, but it’s such a killer song…and I couldn’t pass up this clip of Christine McVie playing the accordion, Stevie Nicks on the cowbell and Lindsey Buckingham howling like a banshee.