When Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw launch their Brothers of the Sun tour at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Saturday, the cowboys will almost certainly share the stage to perform smash duet Feel Like a Rock Star.
It's a big show — last year's Chesney bash at Ray Jay drew a whopping 50,548 fans, making it the largest concert crowd of the year — and it calls for big, buzzworthy moments. Look for Chesney to also pal around in the spotlight with the bill's other players: Jake Owen and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals.
Potter's presence aside (she and Kenny have a duet called You and Tequila), Chesney has always been a big fan of the mano-a-mano duet: In years past, he's also buddied up with Uncle Kracker for 2004's When the Sun Goes Down, George Strait for 2007's Shiftwork and Dave Matthews for 2009's I'm Alive.
He's not alone in Nashville. More than any other genre, country music likes its male musical bonding. Just last year, two of its top stars, Brad Paisley and Blake Shelton, teamed up for bawdy bromance Don't Drink the Water, which they crooned together during their summer tour.
Chesney is a good musician and an even better marketer. He knows what sells. All walks of life will be at Saturday's show — young and old, bikini'd and otherwise — but there is always a pervasive playful sense of "boys will be boys" at his shows. Never underestimate the Bro Factor!
All this cuddly, scruffy dude dueting got us thinking about our favorite male duets over the years. We're not talking about bands or duos, folks like the Everly Brothers or Simon & Garfunkel, Hanson or the Backstreet Boys. We're talking random musical hook-ups, just a couple of fellas spending a little quality time around the microphone.
Here are some favorite "dude-ets."
Kenny Loggins and Steve Perry Don't Fight It
"Live long enough you're bound to find / Moonshine'll make a man go blind!" What does that mean? Who cares! The Pooh Corner scruff and the former Journey frontman, both of whom owned the early '80s charts, aren't the toughest hombres in the world. But the bullwhip cracks of this goofy-fun collaboration help juice the testosterone. In fact, Loggins admitted to the Times a few years ago that those whip cracks should sound rather familiar: "The bullwhip is from the locker where they kept the Indiana Jones soundtrack sounds. We snuck in there and we got the bullwhip and we sampled it."
Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson Say, Say, Say
This effervescently pleading love song was recorded in London's Beatles-famous Abbey Road Studios and released after the success of their first duet, The Girl Is Mine from Thriller. Jackson lived with McCartney and his then-wife Linda during the making of the song.
Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash Girl From the North Country
The opening track on Dylan's Nashville Skyline, this quiet, growly remake of an earlier Dylan came about when Cash, an ardent supporter of the mercurial folkie, was recording in a nearby studio. Other duets were recorded during the jam session — That's All Right, Mystery Train, and Cash's I Walk the Line — but it was this soft rumination that got pressed.
Jay-Z and Kanye West Otis
Rap loves its "feat" guest spots, so the boys-club vibe isn't anything new here. However, Jay and 'Ye have a special bond, and on the braggart's thump of this single from the Watch the Throne LP — which is driven by a sample of Otis Redding's 1966 Try a Little Tenderness — the stars take delight in each other's puffed-chest boasts: "Photo shoot fresh, looking like wealth / I'm about to call the paparazzi on myself."
Phil Collins and Philip Bailey Easy Lover
This synthy blast of '80s cheese is fairly nonsensical, more Phil's Genesis than Philip's Earth, Wind and Fire funk. And yet the Phil-ish camaraderie shines through. Oddly enough, this was the theme song for the very first Wrestlemania in 1985. Okay, it was just the instrumental version. But still, that's just weird.
Bono and Luciano Pavarotti Miss Sarajevo
The Dublin frontman and the opera icon match ego and bluster on this cut from Original Soundtracks 1, a side project between U2 and Brian Eno. The song's birth is in the Bosnian resistance movement, which got the documentary-film treatment by Bill Carter, a filmmaker friend of Bono. The singer produced Carter's movie, which was also called Miss Sarajevo.
David Bowie and Freddie Mercury Under Pressure
Bowie has recorded duets with such disparate dudes as Bing Crosby (Little Drummer Boy) and Mick Jagger (Dancing in the Street), but this classic with Queen's Mercury is a still-vital call for love and tolerance. The song originated from another cut called Feel Like. Bowie had come into the studio to work on Queen song Cool Cat, but after a loose, scat-singing jam session, Under Pressure was born. Regrettably, high-haired dope Vanilla Ice swiped the famous bassline for his 1990 rap hit Ice Ice Baby.
Information from Songfacts.com, Allmusic.com, Billboard.com was used in this story. Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected]