A duet is any piece of music made for two singers or instruments. They show up mainly in music-oriented media, like songs, musicals, and opera.
Due to the intimacy that comes with sharing a song, by far the most common form of duet is the Silly Love Songs type, where the two participants are meant to be lovers. Some composers play on this intimacy to give the duet a humourous or unsettling feel— for example, having two Heterosexual Life-Partners sing about their bromance, or giving the hero and the villain a duet to show they’re actually pretty similar.
Of course, that's only the thematic reason for duets; there are many other reasons for having them, including boosting a song by having two star performers lend their voices to it. Compositionally, duets are nice because the performers can harmonize, adding an extra layer to the song that would otherwise have to be achieved with backup singers.
- Call-and-Response Song
- Counterpoint Duet
- Distant Duet
- Duet Bonding
- Duet of Differences
- Final Love Duet
- Hero vs. Villain Duet
- Quarreling Song
- Solo Duet
- Soprano and Gravel
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Sayaka and Kyoko's joint Image Song And I'm Home, which is actually sang by their respective voice actresses. Made all the more poignant by the fact that it plays over the credits of the episode where Kyoko sacrifices herself to be Together in Death with Sayaka.
- Tsukiuta has each of the six pairs sing two duet songs together, one by each of their composers. Some are heavy on sexual tension/Ship Tease (e.g. "Koiwasuregusa"), some are more purely friendship songs (e.g. "Dakai"), and some seem to be romantic with a third party, the listener (e.g. "Tsuki to, Hoshi to, Maboroshi to").
- The Bolt Chronicles: Near the end of "The Wedding Reception," Bolt and Rhino teasingly serenade Mittens, who is suffering from severe Hangover Sensitivity, in tandem with a humorous Song Parody of Richard Wagner's bridal chorus from Lohengrin.
- Used at the climax of Songs Uncle Sings.
- Arcane has an official Mandarin theme that is clearly based on Vi and Powder but was sung by one (male) singer; however, there is a popular Cantonese fan dub of the theme that is explicitly sung as a duet between Vi and Powder by two female singers.
- Aladdin has a duet between Brad Kane and Lea Salonga as Aladdin and Jasmine, respectively, in "A Whole New World."
- Frozen franchise:
- "Love is an Open Door", sung by Anna and Hans (voiced by Kristen Bell and Santino Fontana, respectively), is something of an Affectionate Parody of when a duet is used to make characters instantly fall in love. It's retroactively quite dark when you discover one half of the duet, Hans, was evil.
- The sisters Anna and Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) also share a couple of Distant Duet and Counterpoint Duet lines in "For The First Time In Forever" and its reprise, but it is not until Olaf's Frozen Adventure do the sisters truly sing together in "When we're Together".
- Tangled has "I See The Light" between Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi as Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, respectively. In context, it doesn't become a love song until Flynn starts singing though one wouldn't assume it listening to it straight.
- The movie Duets is about people singing duets.
- Walk Hard has a song about duets actually called "Let's Duet," with more than a few Double Entendres.
Let's duet, in ways that make us feel good.
Lets duet, and make that sacred sound
Put two and two together, perfect harmony we found.We know it's only natural, lets duet!
- In Enchanted, Giselle and Prince Edward sing "True Love's Kiss" together when they meet and fall in love in their fairy-tale world:
Edward: You're the fairest maid I've ever met.You were madeGiselle: ... To finish your duet!
- In the film It Should Happen to You, Pete and Gladys sing "Let's Fall in Love''.
- Strange Magic: Marianne and The Bog King sing a duet of the song 'Straight On' while dueling each other.
- The High School Musical movies have tons, mostly between Troy and Gabriella. "Breaking Free", "Can I Have This Dance?", and "Right Here, Right Now" are just some of them.
- One of the first indications that Emma may have feelings for Mr. Knightley in Emma. (2020) is Emma's confusion when Mr. Knightley and Jane Fairfax perform a duet (Jane on piano and vocal melody, Knightley on violin and vocal harmony) immediately after Mrs. Weston tells Emma that Mr. Knightley may have feelings for Jane.
- Johann Sebastian Bach's two duets (the duet from Bei Jesu Leben freudig sein and Ich furchte zwar/nicht des Grabes Finsternissen) from the cantata Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen (BWV 66) are unique examples, for the two singers in each duet sing lyrics that have opposite meanings to each other. To illustrate this, here are a few lines from the duet in Bei Jesu Leben freudig sein, a dialogue between Hope and Fear:
Hope: Mein Auge sieht den Heiland auferweckt, (My eye beholds the Savior reawakened,)
Es hält ihn nicht der Tod in Banden. (Death does not hold Him in its bonds.)Fear: Kein Auge sieht den Heiland auferweckt (No eye beholds the Savior reawakened,)
Es hält ihn noch der Tod in Banden. (Death still holds Him in its bonds.)
- The "Hope" and "Fear" parts are sung together. One must listen to the music in order to fully understand how the duets work.
- Out to Lunch! by Eric Dolphy has a track called "Something Sweet, Something Tender", which is a duet between Richard Davis on bass and Dolphy on bass clarinet.
- John Lennon and Yoko Ono did this on all three of John's solo albums, Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins, Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions and Wedding Album. On the latter album, we find the most famous example: "John & Yoko", where they have a Call-and-Response Song where they call each other's names to a Heartbeat Soundtrack.
- The Walk Hard example above is probably inspired by Cole Porter's equally Double Entendre-filled duet, "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)".
- Tears for Fears:
- On the album version of "The Hurting", Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith sing all the non-chorus lyrics in unison to impart to their listeners that they both suffer from the same psychological pain. However, when performed live, Orzabal sings the final 8-verse stanza on his own.
- "Woman in Chains" is a duet with Orzabal and Oleta Adams, and they take turns singing different verses.
- Orzabal and Smith sing "The Tipping Point" in its entirety together. The song is a tribute to Orzabal's late wife Caroline, who died of liver cirrhosis, and since Caroline was Smith's Childhood Friend, he would also be affected by her passing to some degree. Both men share the lead vocals to express their mutual sadness at the loss of a person who was very dear to them and whom they've known since they were young teenagers.
- "Dueling Banjoes", of all things, is itself a duet.
- Glee, of course. They even had an entire episode featuring duets that played with the concept. Most of the duets were with romantic couples, but a few were fairly unique— like Kurt's duet, which he sang by himself, and the Mercedes/Satanna duet (they're usually enemies).
- Jeeves and Wooster got some comedy out of Bertie getting Jeeves to sing with him while he played a duet on the piano.
- Legion: In "Chapter 27", David Haller and Gabrielle Xavier sing Pink Floyd's "Mother".
- Episode 2 of Mongrels has a wonderful duet about the Jailbait Wait here.
- Odd Squad:
- In "Disorder in the Court", Olive and Danny T sing Soundcheck's latest song, "The Work of Heart", in order to drive the final nail in the coffin of the former not stealing the town museum. The song, which lasts exactly a minute, manages to be a driving factor in Oprah's verdict, and she soon announces Olive is innocent and free of all charges.
- "A Likely Story", from the Season 2 episode "The Cherry-on-Top-inator", is a duet between Olympia and Otis as they explain to Oona how the eponymous gadget aided them in stopping the Puppy Master's evil plan. About halfway through the song, it turns into a Gratuitous Rap before shifting back to a Broadway-style musical piece.
- In "Agent Orchid's Almost Half Hour Talent Show", Olympia develops Performance Anxiety when she gets onstage since she has nothing to perform. Upon Otis realizing this, he grabs two headsets and breaks out into a duet with her in order to help her save herself from the embarrassment of being humiliated in front of every single Odd Squad precinct in the world. The beat eventually drops mid-song, creating a Dubstep vibe and allowing the partner pair to show off their dance moves.
- In "Slow Your Roll", Opal and Orla perform a yodeling duet together in order to calm down a Madmelodia on the hunt for them. They get so into it that when Omar manages to unlock the door leading to the Mobile Unit van's Main Control Room, they stick around to perform a big finish before leaving.
- Schitt's Creek has David volunteering to do The Number with his mother Moira, even as it mortifies him because it is the middle of summer. It's a Christmas duet/medley, complete with awkward banter with the audience, they used to perform at the family's lavish Christmas parties. Later, we see a flashback of The Number, in the Christmas Episode.
- The musical episode of Scrubs has J.D. and Turk sing "Guy Love," a duet about their bond as Heterosexual Life-Partners.
- Smash's episode 'Tech' opens with a montage of the main characters packing up and traveling to Boston for their out of town previews. We see Tom and Sam at Tom's apartment around his piano, playing around and singing 'Another Opnin', Another Show' which is the Background Music for the montage.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation. In "Lessons", the normally reserved Captain Picard finds himself opening up to a female officer though their shared love of music. In a notable scene, they find a Jeffries tube with good acoustics and, with her playing a portable piano keyboard and Picard on the flute, play a duet based on the tune he learned in "The Inner Light". The scene ends in their first kiss.
- Lampshaded in Star Trek: Voyager:
Kim: Susan Nicoletti and I have been working on a new orchestral programme for the holodeck.
Paris: Lieutenant Nicoletti? The one I've been chasing for six months? Cold hands, cold heart?
Kim: (smirk) Not when she plays the oboe.
- Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: In "Children of the Comet", Uhura and Spock sing together with their respective soprano and bass vocals in order to open the "egg" on the comet.
- Lampshaded in "The Song That Goes Like This" from Spamalot.
- Mixing this with "The Villain Sucks" Song, "Pore Jud is Daid" in Oklahoma! is a duet sung by the hero and the villain, containing a bunch of thinly-veiled jabs the villain, who doesn't catch the insults.
- How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying has "It's Been A Long Day", much of which is Smitty (Frump in the reprise) narrating the complementary thoughts going on inside Finch and Rosemary's heads (Frump is the go-between for Hedy LaRue and Biggsley). Part of the song almost has the feel of this trope, but it's played with and twisted around for laughs.
- In Wicked, the song "What Is This Feeling?" is a duet, initially built up as love-song...except the feeling is loathing.
- There's also a Played Straight example in Act Two with "As Long as You're Mine", sung by Elphaba and Fiyero in a moment of passion.
- Anastasia has "In a Crowd of Thousands", which for various reasons doesn't qualify as a Final Love Duet but which nevertheless serves as Anya and Dmitri's sweeping, dramatic love song in which Anya remembers a detail of their first meeting that she could't possibly have known if she wasn't Anastasia.
- Lamp shaded and parodied in one strip of Questionable Content. When Marten specifically requests that their band not devolve into sappy love songs, his two bandmates (who are dating) break into spontaneous song about how they met at a mosh pit when she knocked out his tooth.
- Kevin & Kell sing a song together in song written for Bill (the strip's creator) by Tom Smith. The song retells the story of how they met each other in a chat room and then agreed to see each other in person. More information is available here, and lyrics can be found here.
- The SpongeBob SquarePants song "This Grill Is Not A Home" is a duet between the titular character (played by Tom Kenny) and Mr. Krabs (played by Clancy Brown).
- My Little Pony:
- My Little Pony: Rescue at Midnight Castle: "Dancing on Air", the first in-universe song, is a duet between Megan and Firefly. Up until the end Megan isn't buying Firefly's assurances that she will be of help to the talking ponies.
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
- "May the Best Pet Win": Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash start off the songs of Season 2 with an epic duet about picking out the best pet.
- "A Canterlot Wedding": Cadence and Chrysalis wrap up the season with a legitimately epic Villain Song duet about the latter's plan to imitate the former and use Shining Armor for her own nefarious purposes.
- Get Ace: The finale of "Comeback Mr. Walker" has Mr. Walker and Ned Krinkle (disguised as Mr. Walker) both show up on stage. Neither really notices the presence of the other and the in-universe audience believes it's just the real Walker singing by himself.
- Grojband: In the episode, "All You Need is Cake", Corey and Laney perform a duet for a wedding gig. Their heartwarming song "Please Come Back" isn't for the bride and groom however, but rather to bandmates Kin and Kon as an apology for letting Grojband break up.
- Some in Ready Jet Go!:
- "Let's Fly Our Little Saucer to the Moon", essentially a silly love song, performed by Jet's parents, Carrot and Celery in "How Come the Moon Changes Shape?"
- "Enceladus vs. Europa", another Carrot and Celery duet, sung in "Which Moon is Best?". This time it's about them arguing about which moon is better - Enceladus or Europa.
- "I'm Not Afraid of New Ideas", sung by Jet and Sydney in "Lone Star". It's about, well, not being afraid of new ideas.
- "There's No Planet Like My Planet", sung by Jet and Sean in "Back to Bortron 7". A Ho Yay-laden song that involves Sean singing about how he might like Jet's planet, Bortron 7.
- Steven Universe:
- "Strong in the Real Way" from "Giant Woman". A Distant Duet sung by Pearl and Steven about what being strong means.
- "On the Run" from the episode of the same name, sung by Steven and Amethyst. It is sung as they journey away from Beach City and to the Prime Kindergarten on a train.
- "The Jam Song" from "Sworn to the Sword", sung by Connie and Steven as they have a picnic.
- From the same episode, there's "Do It for Her", sung by Pearl and Connie as Pearl trains her to be a sword-fighter.
- "What Can I Do (For You)" from "We Need to Talk", sung by Greg and Rose.
- "Something Entirely New" from "The Answer", sung by Ruby and Sapphire about their feelings about fusing for the first time.
- "Don't Cost Nothing / Empire City", sung by Steven and Greg in "Mr. Greg" about how to spend Greg's money, and then about the city of Empire City.
- "Here Comes a Thought", sung by Garnet and Stevonnie in "Mindful Education" about how to deal with inner demons.
- Thomas & Friends: From The Great Race, there's "You Can Only Be You", a song sung by Ashima and Thomas about her trying to get him to be himself, and him self-deprecating.
- The Casagrandes: The theme song is a duet by Izabella Alvarez (Sung in Ronnie Anne's voice) and Ally Brooke. Bonus points because in real life they are also friends with one another.