BBC Culture

From Lady Gaga to Radiohead: The most unlikely duets

Metallica/Lang Lang

(Getty)

Metallica will perform with pianist Lang Lang at this month’s Grammy Awards. BBC Culture picks five other unlikely collaborations, from Lady Gaga to Eminem.

It’s a match made in Grammy heaven: Metallica announced this week that they’ll be teaming up with Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang at the awards ceremony later this month, for what the band called “one of the most unique performances of our career”.  Meanwhile, Daft Punk will be performing with Stevie Wonder in the electronic duo’s first televised appearance since 2008.

The history of pop music is filled with offbeat live collaborations: here are five of the most memorable.

Pavarotti and Barry White

The Italian tenor and the American soul singer make sweet music together in this performance of You’re The First, The Last, My Everything for the 2001 Pavarotti & Friends Concert. Held annually from 1992 to 2003 in the opera singer’s home town of Modena, the charity concerts featured memorable duets, with James Brown, Jon Bon Jovi and Grace Jones. Here, the Walrus of Love sings one of his most famous songs while Pavarotti riffs over the top in a way that only Pavarotti can.

David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails

A performance of Hurt that could rival Johnny Cash’s version for watchability, this duet took place during Nine Inch Nails’s 1995 Dissonance tour. David Bowie brings his trademark eeriness, while a sweat-drenched, leather-clad Trent Reznor gives a rock edge. Raw, yet powerful enough to fill a stadium.

Lady Gaga and Kermit the Frog

Kermit the Frog must have been nervous before joining Lady Gaga for this duet last November; the pop star wore a coat made out of the Muppet Show character in 2009. This time, she dressed in fur to sing Gypsy for her Thanksgiving TV special. Kermit hits the high notes and manages to nod his head in time to the pounding beats of the track from Gaga’s Artpop album.

Radiohead and the USC marching band

The Grammys are known for inspired collaborations: in 2009, Radiohead gave their first-ever performance at the awards ceremony, playing a version of 15 Steps with the University of Southern California’s marching band. Frontman Thom Yorke accompanied the band’s insistent percussion with some jerky dance moves that predated his twitchy appearance in Atoms For Peace’s Ingenue video.

Eminem and Elton John

Despite protests about Eminem’s involvement in the 2001 Grammys because of his homophobia-tinged lyrics, gay activist Elton John chose to join the rapper onstage for a performance of Stan. Facing accusations of betrayal from gay groups, John appeared with his own keyboard and sang Dido’s sample on the hit song about a stalker; the pair embraced at the end.

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