Top Ten Thursday: Dynamic Duos

PB & J

The week of Valentine’s Day, we did a breakup songs list and nothing else relating to love. This week, we have given off a couples barrage with reviews of Sleigh Bells and Tennis, two duos, and now this list. While most bands are five, the Beatles were the Fab Four, and three is a magic number, two can no doubt still kill it in rock & roll. Here is our top ten musical duos.

10.   The Knife

The Knife Musical Duo

The masked Swedish brother-sister duo create one of the more intoxicating brands of electronic music, highlighted in their 2006 masterwork, Silent Shout. Proving once more, Scandinavia is one weird, enchanted place.

9.       Black Star

Set to reunite this year, two of the best social conscious rappers, Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey (formerly known is Mos Def), made one near perfect rap album in 1999, but  still managed to leave quite a mark on hip hop. Look for the two at Bonnaroo this year.

8.       The Chemical Brothers

The Chemical Brothers electronic duo

These two Brits fused dance, rock, and rap into one of the best electronic acts of the past twenty years. It doesn’t hurt either that they put on one monumental live show.

7.       Sleigh Bells

The band that was the reason for making this list also deservedly made the list. While the New York duo is only two albums young, what has come out thus far is fantastic enough and groundbreaking enough to earn a nod.

6.       Steely Dan

Steely Dan two man band

Your dad’s favorite rock band may not be the greatest band in the world, but they should no doubt merit your respect. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen are absolute studio gurus, and released several good jazz-influenced rock albums in the 70s.

5.       Simon & Garfunkel

The greatest folk duo of all time, Simon & Garfunkel were one of the preeminent voices of the 60s and have created numerous folk standards of their own. This is a duo where one half is clearly greater than the other (Paul knocks out Art every day of the week), but  Garfunkel’s skills harmonizing as a tenor wonderfully complements Simon’s whispery vocals and poetic songwriting.

4.       The Black Keys

The Black Keys two man band

Alongside the White Stripes, these two suburban kids from Akron, Ohio have revitalized the blues in rock music over the past decade, making seven great records and finally breaking out to commercial success in the past couple years. Dan Auerbach’s souful crooning and reverb-drenched guitar works just perfectly over Patrick Carney’s thunderous drumming.

3.       Daft Punk

Daft Punk electronic duo

These two French robots shrouded in myth and mystery have brought through a new wave of house and electronic dance music. Not only have songs like “One More Time”, “Around The World”, and “Digital Love” rocked dance floors around the world, but Daft Punk has also figured prominently on Youtube,  in rap music, and in the remake of Tron.

2.       Outkast

While the two can’t seem to share a room these days, Outkast made for one electric rap duo in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. The two rap styles balance each other wonderfully, with Andre 3000’s funky, fast, and highly creative flow well complementing Big Boi’s understated, classic, but equally lightning fast delivery.

1.       The White Stripes

The White Stripes two man band

The White Stripes were our undisputed number one, which may be surprising to some since Meg White is usually at best considered a serviceable drummer. In my mind though, that’s part of what makes the White Stripes great: Meg simply provides the simple backbone on top of which Jack White blows your mind. If the Stripes drummer was any better, that person would take away from Jack White’s spotlight, thus breaking  a law of rock music; more Jack White is always better.

Three musical pairings that couldn’t muster enough momentum to make the list:

Austin: Flight of the Conchords

The self-proclaimed “fourth most popular Kiwi folk-parody duo”, Flight of the Conchords just missed our list on back-to-back weeks, missing last week’s breakup songs list with “I’m Not Crying”. Unfortunately, Bret and Jemaine will still be crying this week.

Wes: Beach House

Beach House two person band

Victoria Legrande’s dreamy vocals rest sweetly upon Alex Scally’s billowy guitar which makes for a very reflective, timeless form of pop music. It’s great for every season of the year, contrary to their name.

Todd: The Kills

The smoky, garage punk duo also is coupled in with garage rock duos The Stripes and The Keys, though Alison Mosshart brings her very ferocious female presence into the category. The two will also chew you up and spit you out live.

So there is the list. Let us know what we unforgivably missed, or got right, but still feel free to just rip on us in general.


Follow us on Twitter | Facebook

Author: Wes

Hoosier. Writer. Music Buff. Media Man. Tourist. Polar Bear.

5 thoughts on “Top Ten Thursday: Dynamic Duos”

  1. Probably qualify as a “Dad”, as I like Steely Dan (a lot), and am a Dad. On dynamic duos, how about the reggae rhythm kings, Sly and Robbie. And I guess Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart – The Eurhythmics – would be in with a shout too. Totally agree with the brilliance of the White Stripes. Saw them live once at Alexandra Palace in North London, which is quite a big, cavernous venue. They made a Zepplinesque noise and you had to pinch yourself to remember it was just one guitar and some drums.

    My own musical musings are on my blog, Thoughtsfromwestfive at

    It may be deliberate but you don’t have the standard WordPress “Follow” button on your blog, which means it doesn’t appear on the “Read Blogs” feature, just on email.

    1. John, thanks for the note. Glad you enjoyed The White Stripes live show as much as we did. A show that is truly unforgettable. The Eurhythmics were discussed as a possible candidate for our list, but alas, did not quite make the final cut.

      I checked out your blog as well. I very much enjoyed the Radiohead/Portishead piece you just did. I gave you a follow and am looking forward to reading more from you in the future.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Daft Punk has got to have one of the absolute best live shows in recent years, and the accompanying live album (Alive 2007) is my favorite electronic album hands down. The Black Keys are a favorite of mine as well. I’m really glad that they’re renewing the popularity of more classic styles of rock (blues rock on Brothers, Led Zeppelin style rock on El Camino). I do posts about albums I enjoy from time to time on my blog, , though I’m not really well-versed in review-style writing yet.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s