Why So Many Duets?

Marina Chiafullo ‘20

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Let’s face it, music is the soundtrack of our lives, especially here in Ridge. With countless types of genres, music effectively has the power to shape our every mood and spark our imagination. The creative artistry of duets and collaborations among artists rising in the music industry brings a resurgence of an “out-of-the-box” sound. A look at the top ten charting songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart list eight collaborations with upcoming artists.  There is something here that cannot be ignored. Who can resist the R&B sound of SZA and rap icon, Kendrick Lamar, as the two sing “All the Stars” in the Black Panther soundtrack, or marvel over Ed Sheeran’s and Andrea Bocelli’s duet of the song “Perfect”, with half of the song performed in the Italian language?  It’s an exciting time for the music industry.

So why are duets and collaborations growing in popularity nowadays? Well, duets have been around for decades. Artists Billy Joel and Ray Charles, two men with completely different styles, recorded a duet called “Baby Grand” in 1986. In the same year, Aerosmith and Run DMC took music listeners by surprise with the famous song “Walk This Way”. Though collaborations aren’t a new idea, the intentional mixing of genres and experimentation of technology within songs has grown into an advanced artform over the past thirty years.  This generation’s need to create what some may call a “mash-up” of style is no different. The blending of sound and creative use of technology allows collaborating artists to consider new directions, creating hidden surprises for their listeners.

Rap and hip-hop particularly allow for a popularity in duets, due to the fluidity of sound between styles. For example, Chance the Rapper’s “Coloring Book” has more than half of its songs as collaborations. The trend of collabs and duets has grown as time progressed, and as such, the listener has come to expect a certain amount of sharing of style and sound.

When talking with students at Ridge, the enthusiasm for duets and collaborations in music is reaching new heights. Through the halls, on the bus, and in the lunchroom, students have the opportunity to check out new releases and listen to their favorite collaborations. Carollyne Conway ‘18 says she “likes the “Mic Drop” collab with BTS, Steve Aoki, and Desiigner, because it really thrilled [her] that American celebrities were working with international stars and making neat music for multiple audiences to enjoy”. Julian Janeczko ‘20 is a particular fan of the Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli duet, saying “Bocelli’s strong and classical operatic quality of vocals blends with that of the well-known pop guitarist Ed Sheeran in pure perfection”. The obvious mix of different styles and genres opens up new interests and love for newfound music.  That’s the surprising thing about music; each new tune has the ability to invade the ears, hook the listener, and creating a fan of jazz, rock, pop, rap–whatever the genre may be.

People are tuning into new styles due to this inspiring combination of vocal technique, technology, and artists. The future of music is in our hands, and what we’re doing with it provides a new form of art and expression that we just can’t get enough of.

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