Corey: It's, uh, like a rule.
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 Not So Different.
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
- Quarreling Song
- Solo Duet
- Soprano and Gravel
- Used at the climax of Songs Uncle Sings.
- 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 soundPut 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 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)"
- "Dueling Banjoes", of all things, is itself a duet.
- 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.)
- 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 musical episode of Scrubs has J.D. and Turk sing "Guy Love," a duet about their bond as Heterosexual Life-Partners.
- Episode 2 of Mongrels has a wonderful duet about the Jailbait Wait here.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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".
- Aladdin has THE duet in "A Whole New World."
- Tangled follows up with "I See The Light." In context, it doesn't melt into love song until Flynn starts singing though one wouldn't assume it listening to it straight.
- Frozen has the song "Love is an Open Door" which is something of an Affectionate Parody of when this trope 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.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode "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.
- In "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.
- "Dancing on Air", the first in-universe song in the original My Little Pony pilot, 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.
- GrojBand has Corey and Laney perform a duet for a wedding gig.