Top 10 +1 | Best Collaboration Songs Of The '80s & '90s

Every second song these days is a collaboration. A quick glance over the Oz charts as they stand right now and you can see that you've got your Calvin Harris' featuring your Rihannas, and you've got your Drakes featuring your Rihannas too. Then you've got Drake featuring Wizkid & Kyla; and your Charlie Puth (whoever the fridge magnet that is!) featuring Selena Gomez, and so on & so forth. There's plenty more where those came from just in the Top 20 alone.

A slightly jaded child of the '80s might postulate that some of today's musos can't carry a decent song on their own... said the slightly jaded child of the '80s.

I can't believe I'm actually going to say this, but... back in MY day (it's ok, I'm cringing too!) our music stars built their careers around their own awesomeness, and the duet or collaboration with another artist was something really special, and something really memorable.

I guess only time will tell if any of today's collabs prove to be as significant as any one of the Top 10 (+ 1) below, but the cynical '80s child in me scoffs in the faces of Rihanna, Drake, and Charlie Puth (whoever the french fry that is!).

Click on the cover art for all of the collab awesomeness you can handle...


#10.  Jimmy Barnes & John Farnham | When Something Is Wrong With My Baby (1991)

Barnesy & Farnsey. Farnsey & Barnesy. Jimmy & Johnny. What an amazing powerhouse of Aussie voice!

I love the way these two gents not only compliment each other, but also kind of influence each other on this one song. Farnsey gets a smidge more rock n roll than his normal, and Barnesy reigns in his signature 'scream' an equal smidge. Add to that they're both stylin' it up in this music video like it's nobody's business, and you've got yourself one helluva memorable duet.

It makes me sad that cracking good songs like this wouldn't stand a chance of cracking the charts these days. It's crackers!



#9.  Iggy Pop & Kate Pierson | Candy (1990)

Iggy these days means Iggy Azalea. Sorry to lead with that depressing truth.

Story Time! I was on set a few months ago, filming a short film. It was one of those moments where production was held up as we waited for something or other to happen before all of the other things could happen. It happens. So yours truly broke out the 'ol iTunes 'random playlist' on her phone & what should come on but Iggy Pop & Kate Pierson. I looked around the room to find there wasn't a single person not singing, including some who were barely out of nappies in 1990, some who weren't even born in 1990, and people from varying backgrounds and countries. And that's the power of a well-crafted song & a little Iggy Pop/Kate Pierson magic sprinkled on top.


#8.  Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds + Kylie Minogue | Where The Wild Roses Grow (1996)

Sometimes the best collabs are the least likely collabs. Who would've thought Kylie Minogue & Nick Cave could be such a tantalising match?

Where The Wild Roses Grow is a beautiful song, with a haunting lyric. It's everything you would expect from Nick Cave. But Kylie Minogue? Really?

Yes, really. And what a genius pairing it is. Nick Cave loves her so damn much that she must die. And rather violently too, the poor love. Taking a rock to someone's head is one of the more gruesome ways to go, and Nick Cave paints a disturbing picture with his words.

The last word though comes from Kylie's corpse from its final resting place among the weeds of a riverbed. If you can reconcile the slaying part, it's actually quite beautiful.


#7.  Tom Jones & The Art Of Noise | Kiss (1988)

By 1988 ol' mate Tom Jones was getting a bit 'long in the tooth' (by a 10 year-olds standards anyway).

What's cool about Tom Jones though is he never lost his Suavey McSuave sex god status. Kiss was one of those songs that helped keep that status high.

A couple more collabs from Tom Jones helped to keep him current going in to the 21st century, and bloody good on him I reckon.

Great songs like I Wanna Get Back With You (1994), with Tori Amos, and Burning Down The House (1999) with The Cardigans are two of my own faves. Tommy's been pretty quiet of late, but I reckon he's earned himself a nice vacation in Miami for the Summer.


#6.  Kylie Minogue & Jason Donovan | Especially For You (1989)

Especially For You should be number one. I mean really... it's Kylie. And Jason. Perhaps if Kylie & Jason had made it down the real life aisle the song would be bigger, but hey, it was still pretty big.

Australia & the UK were in the grip of Stock Aitken Waterman fever, and Especially For You was the duet that just had to happen. And oh my lordy wordy lordy yes, it was everything we could've hoped for, and so much more.

My favourite thing about the music video is when Jason cracks up laughing, then pulls himself together & carries on crooning with our Kyles all wrapped in his arms. Seamless.

Oh how I wish it had worked out for those two crazy cats. The babies would have been adorable little cherubs.


#5.  David Bowie & Mick Jagger | Dancing In The Street (1985)

It's David Bowie.

And Mick Jagger.

And they're dancing.

In the street.

'Nuff said.

#4.1Eurythmics & Aretha Franklin | Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves (1985)

#4.2Dannii & Kylie Minogue (Live) | Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves (1986)

Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves is the first of Aretha Franklin's TWO entries on this Top 10 (+ 1).

With Annie Lennox & the Eurythmics, this was a powerful and soulful song, and it quickly became an anthem for sisters everywhere wanting to do it for themselves. You can interpret that any way you wish, thou shalt not judge.

I had to mention the Minogue sisters here since I remember so vividly watching this performance on Young Talent Time in mid '80s. The outfits, the hair, the YTT cast bopping all around them, the hair, Dannii's bazaar eyes-popping-out-of-her-head expressions. And the hair. Gah! It was just so good! A truly beautiful moment in Australian television history.


#3.  Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney | The Girl Is Mine (1982)

Wowsers! Duets don't come much bigger than Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney. Ok, so obviously that doesn't hold up since The Girl Is Mine is only #3 here, but you catch my drift. It's pretty big. 

For me, this song is pure calm. It's just so smooth and easy listening. And, in my opinion, '80s Michael Jackson is Michael Jackson at his very very best. 

Although The Girl Is Mine was released as a single, a music video was never made (that I know of anyway)... and a big boooo to that! Too late now. Le sigh.

#2.  George Michael & Aretha Franklin | I Knew You Were Waiting For Me (1985)

That Sassy McSassquatch Aretha Franklin is at it again, making fabulous music with other fabulous musicians.

This pairing echos the nature of our #10 collab - Barnesy & Farnsey - just in the way that Aretha & George Michael compliment each other so beautifully. It's two great voices coming together to make a really great, memorable song.

I love the music video for this song! George Michael being the sexy beast we all know him as with his smooth as vanilla custard voice, and saucy minx Aretha Franklin with her effortless soul-mother voice. Bravo!


#1.  Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes | (I've Had) The Time Of My Life (1987)

I don't know who Bill Medley is, and I don't know who Jennifer Warnes is, but I DO know who Bill Medley AND Jennifer Warnes is. They're the voices behind the most amazing duet I can possibly think of.

From the ah-may-zing soundtrack of one of the BESTEREST movies ever made, Dirty Dancing (1987), this song brings together that awesome climactic scene where Johnny declares his love for Baby, and Mum tells Dad to sit the farm animals back down to allow Johnny to sweep Baby off her feet... literally! 

If this song, in that movie, doesn't lift your spirits as high as Jennifer Grey's pre-surgical procedure nose in the final lift, then I'm really sorry but I do need to inform you that your chest cavity is currently home to a heart of stone.


+ 1.  Cliff Richard & The Young Ones | Living Doll (1986)

To finish off our awesome countdown (if I do say so myself), this corker is a deserving inductee into the + 1 Hall of Fame.

I don't know who came up with this idea, but I'm sure glad they did. In a world of unlikely pairings, Cliff Richard & The Young Ones provides a benchmark for all other unlikely pairings to aspire to.

Cliff Richard has a voice that's really easy to listen to, which is incredibly handy since Rick Mayall's voice is like cleaning your ears out with a screwdriver.

Living Doll is felafel-fudge funny, and a great way to finish up our Top 10 (+ 1) music collaborations of the '80s & '90s.


Got beef with this list? Berate me in the comments. I can take it.