Elton John's most mind-blowing duets | Virgin Media
Elton John's most mind-blowing duets

Elton John's most mind-blowing duets



With nearly five decades in the pop game, it's no surprise Elton John has made a few dodgy decisions in his time. That duck costume. Those glasses. That single with the Frog Chorus. Oh, no, sorry, that was Paul McCartney.

Where he's really excelled himself is in his choice of collaborators. Sometimes he hits the mark, sometimes he doesn't. For every number one smash with Kiki Dee, there's a dubious disco stomp with Gary Barlow. For every stellar team-up with John Lennon, there's a mushy Christmas song with Joss Stone. At least he's never boring.

As Sky Arts and BBC Four celebrate the great man tonight (Friday 6 May), we look back at 10 of Elt's most bizarre partnerships. We didn't even find room for Kanye.

RuPaul (Don't Go Breaking My Heart, 1993)

Elton John scored his first ever UK number one duetting on this with Kiki Dee back in 1976, so naturally he'd want to revisit his finest hour. And naturally he'd want to re-record it with legendary drag queen RuPaul. Only number seven this time, but they had a good time even if we didn't.

Pnau (Sad, 2012)

Aussie dance duo Pnau hit on a wizard wheeze in 2012, taking a bunch of old Elton tracks and weaving samples into a whole new album – Good Morning To The Night. The hit, Sad, features elements from Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, Crazy Water and more, with Sir Elton comfortable in new electro surroundings. Call it a slightly coerced duet.

Luciano Pavarotti (Live Like Horses, 1996)

When you're Elton John, you can get pretty much anybody to sing with you, no matter how bananas the idea. So who better than leading opera warbler Luciano Pavarotti? Elton puts in a decent effort, but the Maestro from Modena blows him away.

2Pac (Ghetto Gospel, 2005)

I mean, just look – Elton can even persuade dead guys to duet with him. The late 2Pac unwittingly brought the former Reg Dwight on board in 2005, and they took their grisly collaboration all the way to the top of the charts.

Jennifer Rush (Flames Of Paradise, 1987)

If your grandkids ever ask you what the 1980s were all about, just point them to this video. It's got Jennifer Rush in it for a start – a singer who barely seemed to exist outside 1985 (apart from, um, here) – the kind of graphics that would embarrass the sharpie scrawls on your school rucksack, and Elton trying to dance in a fitted leather suit. Let's face it, we all want to go back there.

Eminem (Stan, 2001)

Anything Dido can do, I can do better. Everyone's thought that at some point, but Elton took the notion to its logical conclusion, singing the Thank You sample that Eminem nicked for Stan in his best early-noughties honking style.

Lady Gaga (Poker Face/Speechless/Your Song, 2010)

The 2010 Grammy Awards almost combusting in a camp ball of flame when Elton and his ordained heiress Lady Gaga got together for this medley. Faced with a friend/adversary of this stature, Elton really upped his spectacles game.

Blue (Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, 2002)

The one thing Elton John's 1976 hit obviously lacked was Simon Webbe going, "Yeah, yeah" after every one of Elton's lines. Well, thank god Blue were around a quarter of a century later to rectify this. And how sweet of them to let Reg come along for the (low) ride.

Fall Out Boy (Save Rock And Roll, 2013)

Emo wet blankets Fall Out Boy were never going to save rock and roll on their own, so they roped in Mr John to hand them drumsticks and guitars in a godlike manner. This was also the year that Elton played on Queens Of The Stone Age's Fairweather Friends, as he carried out his rock saviour role with the utmost sincerity.

Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder (That's What Friends Are For, 1985)

More of a quartet than a duet, but let's not split hairs. Elton can't afford to anyway. This unlikely knees-up with a bunch of US soul legends went all the way to number one in the States but only 16 over here, where we're a little more discerning about our schmaltz. Note Elton's appearance in the thick of the Hat-Wearing Years.

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