NPR’s Pop Off this morning was a conversation about the shifting dynamics in duets. Back in the day, when a man and a woman did a duet, you generally learned what each was thinking and gained insight into both of their psyches. For example, check out I Got You Babe by Sunny and Cher or Hit the Road, Jack by Ray Charles featuring the Raettes.
Nowadays, duets usually feature a male rapper and female singer, and the woman echoes what the rapper is thinking. Examples include Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys and Hip Hop Saved My Life by Lupe Fiasco feat. Nikki Jean, among many others. Even California Gurls by Katy Perry ft. Snoop Dogg, which is Perry’s creation and gives her much more airtime than Snoop Dogg, essentially takes place inside the male rapper’s mind – the girl sings about his thoughts.
Pop Off features music writer Maura Johnston and Jay Smooth in conversations about pop music. Read more and listen to today’s segment, “He Raps, She Sings. Does It Still Count As a Duet?” here.