The Late Movies: 10 Weird Duets

Natalie Cole and her dead father. Bing Crosby and David Bowie. Eminem and Elton John. These notably weird duets shocked and (usually) entertained us, but there are plenty more odd musical couplings out there. Here are 10 of our favorites.

1. Nelly and Tim McGraw

When hip-hop star Nelly and country singer Tim McGraw teamed up in 2004 for "Over and Over," off Nelly's album Suit, the song soared to the top of Billboard's Top 40 chart within just four weeks of its release after debuting at the number 7 spot. This marked the largest position jump to number 1, tying Nelly with Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey for quickest rise to the top spot. Two singers apparently were friendly before the collaboration, but when Nelly's people called McGraw to ask for his vocals on Nelly's country song, McGraw responded, "There ain't nothing country about it!"

2. David Bowie and Marianne Faithfull

As her career and her personal life declined, singer-songwriter Marianne Faithfull pulled back from the public spotlight. However, in 1973, she paired with David Bowie to cover Sonny Bono's "I Got You Babe." Bowie and Faithfull briefly dated in the early 1970s, but their relationship ended well before this performance on NBC. The results are ... interesting.

3. Bruce Willis and the Pointer Sisters

Before finding stardom in action movies, in 1987, Bruce Willis recorded a moderately successful album called The Return of Bruno. The lead single "Respect Yourself," a cover of the Staple Sisters' original, featured vocals from June Pointer of the Pointer Sisters, who all appeared in the video. The song peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

4. Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue

Australian singer, songwriter and all-around badass Nick Cave collaborated with pop star Kylie Minogue on 1995's "Where the Wild Roses Grow," a musical dialogue between a murderer and his victim. Cave reportedly wrote the song with Minogue in mind and it went on to become the most successful single for Cave's band The Bad Seeds, reaching number 3 in Norway, the top 5 in Australia and the top 20 in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany and New Zealand.

5. Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra

Recorded over a weekend in April 1999, Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra's two-disc album S&M features performances of Metallica songs with additional symphonic accompaniment, composed by Michael Kamen, who also conducted the concert.

6. Ben Folds and William Shatner

The former frontman of Ben Folds Five and the former captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise hooked up for Fear of Pop, an experimental recording project. Their first (and only) album, Volume 1, was released in 1998. The album is considered Ben Folds' first solo project, but the band included other musicians, notably Caleb Southern and John Mark Painter. Shatner provided vocals on "In Love."

7. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Phil Collins

Phil Collins' 1985 song "Take Me Home" got a hip-hop upgrade in 2002, when he teamed up with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony on their album Thug World Order. The song features verses by the rap group, with the chorus sung by Collins. The song was panned in the U.S., but received so much praise in the U.K. that Bone Thugs named Collins an honorary member and dubbed him "Chrome Bone."

8. Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney

Although it's well-known that this pair had already collaborated on "The Girl Is Mine," from Michael Jackson's Thriller album, they also worked together on "Say Say Say" for Paul McCartney's Pipes of Peace. "Say Say Say" was recorded at Abbey Road Studios between May and September 1981

9. P. Diddy and Jimmy Page

In 1998, Godzilla got a movie makeover thanks to director Roland Emmerich. The flick's song, "Come With Me," was performed by rapper P. Diddy and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, who samples Zeppelin's classic "Kashmir."

10. Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Cabelle

Spanish opera singer Montserrat Cabelle partnered with Freddie Mercury of Queen to record "Barcelona" in 1988. The pair became friends when Mercury appeared on a Spanish talk show and mentioned wanting to meet the famous songstress. "Barcelona" was later named the 1992 Olympic anthem, though the song was not performed at the ceremonies because Cabelle refused to sing it with anyone else after Mercury's death from AIDS earlier that year.

twitterbanner.jpg

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
These Sparrows Have Been Singing the Same Songs for 1500 Years
iStock
iStock

Swamp sparrows are creatures of habit—so much so that they’ve been chirping out the same few tunes for more than 1500 years, Science magazine reports.

These findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, resulted from an analysis of the songs of 615 adult male swamp sparrows found in six different areas of the northeastern U.S. Researchers learned that young swamp sparrows pick up these songs from the adults around them and are able to mimic the notes with astounding accuracy.

Here’s what one of their songs sounds like:

“We were able to show that swamp sparrows very rarely make mistakes when they learn their songs, and they don't just learn songs at random; they pick up commoner songs rather than rarer songs,” Robert Lachlan, a biologist at London’s Queen Mary University and the study’s lead author, tells National Geographic.

Put differently, the birds don’t mimic every song their elders crank out. Instead, they memorize the ones they hear most often, and scientists say this form of “conformist bias” was previously thought to be a uniquely human behavior.

Using acoustic analysis software, researchers broke down each individual note of the sparrows’ songs—160 different syllables in total—and discovered that only 2 percent of sparrows deviated from the norm. They then used a statistical method to determine how the songs would have evolved over time. With recordings from 2009 and the 1970s, they were able to estimate that the oldest swamp sparrow songs date back 1537 years on average.

The swamp sparrow’s dedication to accuracy sets the species apart from other songbirds, according to researchers. “Among songbirds, it is clear that some species of birds learn precisely, such as swamp sparrows, while others rarely learn all parts of a demonstrator’s song precisely,” they write.

According to the Audubon Guide to North American Birds, swamp sparrows are similar to other sparrows, like the Lincoln’s sparrow, song sparrow, and chipping sparrow. They’re frequently found in marshes throughout the Northeast and Midwest, as well as much of Canada. They’re known for their piercing call notes and may respond to birders who make loud squeaking sounds in their habitat.

[h/t Science magazine]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer
iStock
iStock

Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. ROSÉ WINE GLASSES; $60

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

Find It: Amazon

2. NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE; $25

Nerf SurgeFire
Hasbro

Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

Find It: Hasbro Toy Shop

3. BUSHEL & BERRY PLANTS; $34

plant
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

Find It: Amazon

4. INFLATABLE DONUT; $17

Doughnut float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

Find It: Amazon

5. STAR SPANGLED SPATULA; $21

American flag spatula
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked ... with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

Find It: Amazon

6. MLB HOT DOG BRANDERS; $8 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

Find It: Amazon

7. UNA GRILL; $139

grill
MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, after hitting up MoMA, or anywhere in between.

Find It: MoMa Shop

8. HAMBURGER GRILLING BASKET; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

Find It: Amazon

9. COPPER FIRE PIT; $121

metal fire pit
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

Find It: Amazon

10. BENDY STRAW POOL NOODLE FLOAT; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

Find It: Amazon

11. GRIDDLER DELUXE; $111

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

Find It: Amazon

12. VINTAGE SNOW CONE MAKER; $30

Vintage Snow Cone Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

Find It: Amazon

13. DACHSHUND CORN ON THE COB HOLDERS; $7

Dog Corn Holders
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

Find It: Amazon

14. ICE CREAM SANDWICH MAKER; $16

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

Find It: Amazon

15. UE WONDERBOOM; $68

Bluetooth speaker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

Find It: Amazon

16. ROLLORS GAME; $38

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

Find It: Amazon

17. HAMMOCK; $174

hammock
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

Find It: Amazon

18. VSSL SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS; $59

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Amazon

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios