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Deep Cuts: Sappy Duets

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Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Artist: Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

Album: Single

Released: April 20,1967

Devotion and loyalty are two subjects that are underexplored in pop music. After all, it’s easy to be in love when it’s convenient, but the best relationships are often quite the opposite. Call me old-fashioned, but I think there’s something to be said for sticking it out when the going gets tough. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” is the ultimate ode to making long-distance work, something some McGill students can relate to. Add in hints of glockenspiel and a classic James Jamerson bass groove and you get a timeless example of Motown’s feel-good R&B.

Under Pressure

Artist: Queen & David Bowie

Album: Single

Released: 1981

I know everyone knows this song. I know everything meaningful to say about it has likely already been said. I know it’s played at nearly every wedding reception and bar mitzvah as an ironic “throwback” song and will most likely be continue to be played at such events far into the future. I know it’s your dad’s favourite song. But every once and a while, this song will come on the radio or come up on shuffle on my iPod and I’ll start grinning like an idiot and forget how grown up I’m supposed to be. It taps into a youthful innocence that few other songs touch and for God’s sake, it’s just so catchy. Hey, at least admit it’s better than that “Dancing in the Streets” abomination that Bowie put out with Mick Jagger later in the ‘80s.

Don’t Give Up

Artist: Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush

Album: So

Released: May 19, 1986

Cheesy? Maybe, but there’s a humanity that shines through Gabriel and Bush’s 80’s pop-rock that makes it hold up almost 30 years later. Sometimes the best songs are the simplest. Don’t be fooled by the flowing synthesizers and sparse production, Gabriel’s character is going through some tough times. When he croons “No one wants you when you lose,” it feels like a punch to the gut. All is redeemed by Bush’s warm and tender chorus, in which the simple phrase “Don’t give up”  has never been presented with more intimacy or immediacy.

Grandloves

Artist: Purity Ring ft. Young Magic

Album: Shrines

Released: April 23, 2012

This is synth-pop at its finest. Megan James’ robotic siren song serves as the perfect foil to Young Magic’s mumble. They duel over Corin Roddick’s swelling beats, perfectly capturing the feeling of painful love. As with any Purity Ring song, the lyrics are cryptic enough that you never really know what the song’s about, but they work towards producing a truly mysterious and fascinating track.

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