The surge of musical duos rising to fame in recent years has enveloped all genres. It is often the simplicity and rawness of their music that attracts people to a nuance and originality in the sound. Whether the band plays their instruments live or to a backing track, the effect of just two people on stage is remarkably striking.
Simon and Garfunkel were the pair that popularised the singer-songwriter genre. They propelled themselves into the limelight in the 1960s becoming counterculture icons of the decade’s social revolution. Although their turbulent partnership led to their split in 1970, they produced some of the most recognisable hits of their genre, such as “The Sound of Silence” (1964) and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (1969). Although they have had multiple reunions in their time, Simon has had a hugely successful solo career after writing most of the duo’s hits, with Graceland achieving high acclaim.
Looking ahead to the 1990s, The White Stripes emerged in Detroit as part of the garage-rock revival scene. After many years of writing intricate and increasingly layered songs, it was the six-note riff conceived in a sound check that the pair are most remembered by, “Seven Nation Army” (2003). Meg and Jack White, who were divorced but promoted themselves as siblings, were praised for their aesthetic design and fashion through their use of a simple colour scheme and their fascination with the number three.
After a prolonged hiatus and Meg’s difficulty with anxiety and performing live, the band dissolved in 2011. Jack White is known for his musical feud with blues-rock duo, The Black Keys. Patrick Carney, drummer of The Black Keys, claimed that White tried to fight him in a bar in New York. White also claimed that The Black Keys stole his sound, an ironical concept, as both bands are famous off the back of the rhythms from blues artists from the Deep South in Northern America.
A band who challenge the complex, structured musical style are post-punk duo Sleaford Mods. They’re known for their abrasive, minimalist style and their embittered explorations of austerity-era Britain, epitomising the spirit of working class life. The band is led by vocalist Jason Williamson, and accompanied by musician Andrew Robert Lindsay Fearn, whose onstage role consists of pressing play on the backing track and drinking a can of lager. Williamson recently slammed the punk revival duo, Slaves, for ripping his band off, and labelling them as “appalling” (Gigwise).
The duo partnership expands to multiple genres of music, not solely rock. The mystery of French electronic duo, Daft Punk, meant that their debut album, ‘Homework’, was hugely awaited, launching them into worldwide fame. They both started their musical carrier in an indie-rock band known as Darlin’. Their image is one of the most striking parts about them, claiming in interviews that they don’t want to be photographed. They began donning robotic outfits to combine humanistic and machine-like qualities, utilising their shyness to their advantage, as it is visually exciting to an audience.
OutKast were heralded as one of the most successful hip-hop partnerships of all time through their distinctive personas and idiosyncratic sound. The pair met in Atlanta and formed in 1992 after having fought in rap battles at their high school. They have gone on to receive six Grammy awards for their work, with the popular 2003 single, “Hey Ya!” helped revitalise the Polaroid corporation and the public’s perception of their products.
There are several notable Brighton-based duos to look out for at the moment. Frank & Beans’ impeccable live performances are combined with intricate drumbeats and strong guitar riffs. Originally from Northern Ireland, the duo encompasses the sound of post-hardcore band, Fugazi, mirroring their DIY ethical stance. Their most commended song “God And His Bikini Girls” can be found on their SoundCloud. Garage-rock band, Fuoco, have attracted attention through their music videos on Youtube and their performances supporting The Amazing Snakeheads and Crows. They released their first EP, “Perverted Gaze” in 2014. The pair are often praised for their high energy onstage and their complex, distorted sound.