Sometimes there are just so many new singles out there, you can’t keep up! We all know that two is better than one, and these three new duets going to or currently at radio prove it. They’re all on the lighter side of the spectrum, but they also provide a worthwhile listening experience. Once the Christmas rush is over for the year, here are three sizzling soft-rock duets to keep on your radar as we going into 2013.
COLBIE CAILLAT featuring GAVIN DEGRAW – “We Both Know”
Taken from the soundtrack to the forthcoming movie Safe Haven, this collaboration between Caillat and DeGraw is a lush piano-based ballad, with some additional strings accompaniment. The two have never collaborated on a single together, yet they sound like they’ve been duet partners for decades. Honestly, this kind of track could have come out in the 90’s and been a huge national success. Not sure how far it can go in today’s music market, but the names will certainly help it along. Between this track and another on Caillat’s recent release, Christmas In The Sand, I guess they’re making up for lost time. For all I know, they could be the new Carly Simon and James Taylor if they keep putting out consistent work for a few more years. (Just don’t tell that to Taylor Swift and Jason Mraz.) The song tells of a couple who have been separated for some time, but now, are taking the steps to reconnect. They sing together, “We both know our own limitations and that’s why we’re strong.” DeGraw sings about letting go of events in the past, while Caillat appeals to her partner that they should “wait and see the light.” They pull it off effortlessly. One of the highlights is a dramatic middle eight, with a tight and tense arrangement as the two performers croon about how dreams “can take us further that what anybody can see.” I suppose I’m not the right audience that would become emotional hearing this kind of song, but in the context of the movie, it may make for a powerful statement. It’s absolutely beautiful. I don’t know why they don’t collaborate more often. They’ll be singing this song together for the first time live on The Today Show on New Year’s Day. Check your local listings for the correct time.
AEROSMITH featuring CARRIE UNDERWOOD – “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You”
One of the more tender moments on the Boston band’s new album is this slower song with one of the reigning queens of country music, Carrie Underwood. “Stop” is the followup single to another downtempo single, the mid-charter “What Could Have Been Love”, which easily could’ve been a reject from Aerosmith‘s last original studio album, Just Push Play. I can basically say the same for this one, though the overall result is a little bit stronger on this record. Tyler is down and out of luck and love; it’s as if he “fell from holy Moses mountain, where love’s a slippery slope,” but he finds a girl in Underwood’s character, a “wild…mountain child” and they begin to embrace one another. Underwood then speaks about her “old timey cowboy”, though she seems to suggest that a first kiss with her newfound lover doesn’t sit right with whatever kind of relationship status she’s in: “And for all it costs, for getting lost, there ain’t no better sin.” Does she have a regular boyfriend or is it just creepy that Tyler wants Underwood with the whole age difference? Pick your choice. In the end, they spend the night together, and that’s about as far as it goes (at least in lyric.) It’s the classic Aerosmith sound, lots of guitar and drum, with not too much twang to drive it in a more folky direction. It’ll strictly be an adult contemporary hit. I would hope it can be one of Underwood’s stronger placings on the survey considering that the appeal of the song isn’t limited to solely a country audience. Whatever happens, both of them will still sell records individually; that’s something they certainly “can’t stop”.
CHRISTINA AGUILERA with BLAKE SHELTON – “Just A Fool”
The dance sound isn’t paying off for Christina Aguilera as evidenced by two leadoff singles that had very front-loaded sales and a very short chart life afterwards. Now, the chanteuse and her label have decided to release a hybrid country and pop ballad, which features fellow The Voice judge, Blake Shelton. This is a much more natural direction for Aguilera. No synthesizers, no overly promiscuous lyrics, just a simple out-of-love song with some bare bone guitar and drums to back her and Shelton up. Aguilera’s character finds herself lonely at the bar, trying to forget the pain of a relationship gone awry as the result of infidelity: “I waited and waited so long / For someone who’ll never come / It’s my fault to think you’d be true / Yeah, I’m just a fool.” Shelton’s character wants to move on, but hesitates at the thought of rekindling what he and Aguilera’s character once had. They deliberate, but ultimately, in the end, the two of them don’t give into their weakness and stay apart. This is really a true ballad; they are both so vocally expressive and that’s what makes the song great. It’s smooth, but edgy: can’t help but get some goosebumps when Aguilera starts to wail out. Yes, it might be a tad better if it wasn’t so forced, but that’s the point of a slower song. It’s glossy and strives for perfection, and so, Aguilera and Shelton have done the best they can. Already gaining some adult contemporary and pop airplay, the big question is, will this transition to the country airwaves and become a charting hit there? With some initial unsolicited airplay on the format at the moment, this could be the big breakthrough to come out of an otherwise generally forgettable era. Thank goodness they’re not foolin’ around with this song.
Do you have a favorite of the three duets? Like one that I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.