In Love, In Conflict, or In Something Else Entirely: 20 All-Time Great Records With Both Male and Female Vocals

08/03/2012 12:05 PM |

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With The xx presumably just exiting New York City after last night’s sold-out Terminal 5 show (some video from which has already popped up here), and buzz surrounding their sophomore LP reaching a steady roar, it got us thinking about the band’s main appeal. Records with two lead singers, one male, one female, have a specific power to them that’s denied other band configurations. Romance, or more bluntly, sex, is the primary reason. It’s hard to listen to two people singing together, without imagining some kind of personal entanglement. The ways different groups play into, or against, that human need has been one of pop music’s endlessly fascinating aspects.

Accordingly, we pieced together 20 of the finest records whose quality is dependent on the interaction of one male and one female singer. Whether singing together, or trading off over a record’s running order, it’s cross-gender chemistry that makes these albums immortal. For purity, we’ve excised bands with an “everybody gets their turn” approach (so no Fleetwood Mac, no Belle & Sebastian, no New Pornographers or Broken Social Scene). More painfully, perhaps, we’ve even chucked out the Sonic Youths and Yo La Tengos of the world, bands whose primary man/woman story is complicated by the presence of an undeniably vital third wheel (Lee and James cannot just be photoshopped out of those pictures).

These are records of two people coexisting. In love, in conflict, or in something else entirely.

5 Comment

  • I can’t believe you left out The Moldy Peaches!!

  • Capped it at 20. (And I mean, I left out some records that I actually like, also. :) )

  • ok let’s color this whipster list

    the quintessentials :
    Ella and Louis
    Womack And Womack
    Ashford and Simpson
    Ike and Tina

  • Ike and Tina were really a singles group though, and a compilation felt like a cheat. Ella and Louis a little further back than I was aiming, and again their best album would probably be a compilation, right?

    Womack and Womack’s “Love Wars” could have been on here, I’ll concede. (But it isn’t a personal favorite.)

  • I suppose Fairytale of NY was too obvious. Another good one: the Jesus and Mary Chain song with Hope Sandoval.