As frequent love songwriter Paul McCartney once sang, "Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs / And what's wrong with that?"

Love has been one of music's main themes throughout history. Its universality and persistence have inspired almost every songwriter and artist to express themselves with love songs at some point. "Although people change and their bodies change, and their hair grows grey and falls out and their bodies decay and die ... there is something that doesn't change also about love and about the feelings we have for people," Leonard Cohen said in 1992. "Love never dies."

The best love songs aren't necessarily limited to straightforward romantic proclamations, but also include messages of devotion, forgiveness, lust, kindness and friendship. Beyond lyrics, the tempo, rhythm and instrumentation can also fill in the gaps where ordinary words fail. Music can speak volumes and convey a greater sense of passion and fulfillment. And who better to sing those silly love songs with than a partner?

With that in mind, we take a look at the Top 20 Romantic Duets below. So cozy up with a partner, dim the lights and soak in these classing cuts.

20. "Close My Eyes Forever," Ozzy Osbourne and Lita Ford (1988)

The ‘80s were a blurry time for Ozzy Osbourne, and one of the biggest hits of his career stemmed from a song he wanted little to do with. Buried at the end of former Runaways guitarist Lita Ford’s 1988 album Lita, "Close My Eyes Forever" proved to be a winning combination. The song conversationally suggests an emotional struggle between a weary couple, a tone carried over to the track itself - a likely side effect of the many attempts to record the song. - Matt Wardlaw

 

19. "Almost Paradise," Mike Reno and Ann Wilson (1984)

The story goes that Ann Wilson and Mike Reno were asked who they wanted to duet with on "Almost Paradise," the love theme from Footloose. Wilson named Lou Gramm and Paul Rodgers; Reno said just two words: “Ann Wilson.” (The Loverboy singer once said the soundtrack song almost broke up his band.) Working from a gospel-infused piano demo by Eric Carmen, who wrote the song with Dean Pitchford, Reno and Wilson scored one of the biggest hits of their respective careers. - Wardlaw

 

18. "Surrender to Me," Robin Zander and Ann Wilson (1988)

The pairing of Heart’s Ann Wilson and Robin Zander of Cheap Trick was a dream team-up in 1988. Luck was starting to turn for Cheap Trick thanks to the success of their Lap of Luxury album and No. 1 single “The Flame,” released the same year as “Surrender to Me.” Wilson’s other soundtrack duet from the '80s - “Almost Paradise” - is the more popular song, but "Surrender to Me," from Tequila Sunrise and co-written by Richard Marx, remains an underrated gem of a duet from the era. - Wardlaw

 

17. "Up Where We Belong," Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes (1982)

In 1982, there was no movie moment more romantic than Richard Gere carrying Debra Winger off in his arms at the conclusion of An Officer and a Gentleman. The famous scene was made even more poignant by “Up Where We Belong,” the soaring ballad performed by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes. The track was a hit, topping the Billboard chart and earning the singers a Grammy Award. Songwriters Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Will Jennings scored even more hardware, taking home both the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. - Corey Irwin

 

16. "Stick With Me Baby," Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (2007)

There are some duet partners whose voices meld together as though they were meant for the pairing all along ... like Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, whose harmonies across their collaborative albums Raising Sand (2007) and Raise the Roof (2021) exude tenderness and compassion. (Their chemistry is so profound that fans wonder whether Plant and Krauss' relationship has ever been more than platonic. Plant says no and pointed out if that was the case, "we'd be in trouble now.") Not all of Plant and Krauss' duets are traditionally "romantic"; it's their blended voices that give the music its romance, which is especially evident in "Stick With Me Baby," a song first recorded by another famed duo, the Everly Brothers. - Allison Rapp

 

15. "Guilty," Barbra Streisand Ft. Barry Gibb (1980)

Flush with Saturday Night Fever success, Bee Gees were asked which act they were most interested in producing. They had a frankly inexplicable response: "We said, 'Barbra Streisand,'" the late Maurice Gibb later recalled. She didn't just agree to the unusual pairing; Streisand gave Barry Gibb complete control of the process. "Just call me," she quipped, "when you're ready for me to sing." Gibb wrote or co-wrote every song on Guilty and sang on two (including the title track) while serving as producer and sometimes sideman on acoustic guitar. Perhaps unsurprisingly, "Guilty" sounds nothing at all like a Barbra Streisand record. This Grammy-winning Top 5 smash is just proof that anything Bee Gees touched back then turned to gold. – Nick DeRiso

 

14. "Do That to Me One More Time," Captain & Tennille (1979)

Get your mind out of the gutter. According to Toni Tennille, the "that" in “Do That to Me One More Time” refers to kissing. In later years it was revealed that Tennille was channeling frustrations about her relationship with husband Daryl "Captain" Dragon into her songwriting. Viewed through that lens, it’s easy to hear the melancholy undertone running throughout the song. Still, the song remains a pleasant and airy listen, even if there’s not much substance to it. - Wardlaw

 

13. "You're the One That I Want,"  John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John (1978)

"You're the One That I Want" wasn't part of the Broadway version of Grease, which instead included the Elvis Presley-inspired "All Choked Up" during the scene where Sandy and Danny finally get on the same page. For the 1978 movie version, the producers wanted a more contemporary-sounding song, so they hired longtime Olivia Newton-John collaborator John Farrar to come up with this infectious duet. It was a perfect fit and a worldwide smash, selling 15 million copies across the world. Guess which song gets used in new productions of the musical now? - Matthew Wilkening

 

12. "Reunited," Peaches & Herb (1978 )

This heartfelt love song was born in a rather sterile environment. Songwriting duo Dino Fekaris and Freddie Perren - who also penned ‘70s hits “I Will Survive” and “Shake Your Groove Thing” -- came up with “Reunited” in a purposeful attempt to write a love ballad. Still, it was Peaches & Herb who gave the track its soul. With lyrics about a couple that had called it quits, only to come back together and have their romance burn brighter than ever before, “Reunited” struck a chord with music lovers everywhere. The song spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979 and sold more than 2 million copies. - Irwin

 

11. "Take Me With U," Prince (With Apollonia) (1984)

When Purple Rain movie director Albert Magnoli suggested the project needed a romantic duet, Prince took back the gorgeous "Take Me With U"  from his protege group Apollonia 6, who were planning to use it on their debut album. Although it took some serious coaching to guide singer Apollonia through her vocal parts, the song's tumbling percussion and soaring strings proved to be a perfect fit for the scene where the couple hops on Prince's motorcycle and head for the purifying waters of (what's supposed to be) Lake Minnetonka. - Wilkening

 

10. "Insider," Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Ft. Stevie Nicks (1981)

Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks were speculated to be more than friends, but it's a testament to their kinship that their collaborative work feels so intimate. The result is one of the '80s' best love songs, which Petty admitted he wrote with Nicks' voice in mind. "I loved her voice," Petty said in the 2005 book Conversations With Tom Petty. "We could make a pretty good sound, singing with the acoustic guitar." In contrast to the duo's other big collaboration, the searing "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," "Insider" is remorseful, emotive, vulnerable - a "quiet world of white and gold." - Rapp

 

9. "Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” Elton John and Kiki Dee (1976)

Like a long-distance relationship, Elton John and Kiki Dee recorded their respective vocals for “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” hundreds of miles apart. John and his band recorded their parts in Toronto during the sessions for his 1976 LP Blue Moves. The material was then sent to Dee, who added her vocals in London. Despite the far-flung nature of their recordings, the two singers show clear chemistry on the upbeat number. John and Bernie Taupin had been trying to tap into the same energy that helped Marvin Gaye score several duet hits. Judging by the success of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” - which reached No. 1 in both the U.S. and U.K. - that mission was accomplished. - Irwin

 

8. "Our House," Graham Nash and Joni Mitchell (2021)

It's no wonder two of the early '70s' best singer-songwriters would fall in love. Graham Nash and Joni Mitchell split in 1970 but continued to pen songs about each other. ("I just want to hold you, I don't want to hold you down," Nash sang on 1971's Songs for Beginners — "Now I've gone and lost the best baby that I ever had," Mitchell answered a few months later on Blue.) Before the breakup, Nash wrote about their domestic bliss in "Our House," which appeared on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's 1970 album Deja Vu. In 2021 an intimate demo featuring Nash and Mitchell appeared on the 50th-anniversary edition of the album. The sentiment has only gotten sweeter over the years. - Rapp

 

7.  "Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around," Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty (1981)

Duetting with Tom Petty on "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" was a dream come true for Stevie Nicks. Not so much for Petty, though, who was initially skeptical of working with a member of what he considered a "big corporate rock band." He was determined to put "Draggin'" on the Heartbreakers' Hard Promises LP until producer Jimmy Iovine convinced him to give it to Nicks instead. His intervention proved a blessing: Nicks brings an extra layer of gritty defiance, flipping the perspective and laying down a scorching harmony on top of his pre-recorded chorus vocal. The danger of "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" isn't that one of them will buckle under the pressure of their fraught relationship; it's that they'll destroy each other before either admits defeat. - Bryan Rolli

 

6. "I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That),” Meat Loaf (With Lorraine Crosby) (1993)

Meat Loaf's 1993 comeback hit isn't technically a duet because only the late singer is credited, but Lorraine Crosby's powerhouse performance during the song's climactic lines are pivotal. Meat Loaf and songwriter Jim Steinman were never quite clear what "I'd Do Anything for Love" was about (they've said the answer is right there in the song, but you need commander-level navigational skills to follow the winding path); what is clear is how much Crosby (credited only as Mrs. Loud) elevates the song. Be sure to stick with the 12-minute album version, which heightens the drama to curtain-tearing theatrical levels. – Michael Gallucci

 

5. "Islands in the Stream,” Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton (1982)

Few songs provide as much joy as this early '80s summit of music legends. Written by Bee Gees, co-produced by Barry Gibb and sung by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, "Islands in the Stream" offers new thrills with every turn of its melody and vocal shifts. Parton's solo entrance around the 90-second mark is breathtaking, but she's just as exhilarating when she blends with Rogers. And she wasn't even supposed to be on the track. "Islands in the Stream" was originally intended for Marvin Gaye and ended up with Rogers as a solo cut before Parton was recruited at the last minute - she was recording in an adjacent studio - for the duet. It went straight to No. 1. – Gallucci

 

4. "It Takes Two," Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston (1966)

Motown took this song's title to heart. They were determined to shake Marvin Gaye out of his throwback commitment to the Great American Songbook and figured pairing him with a female singing partner might encourage some chart action, too. It led only to a series of heartbreaks. Motown tried in 1964 with Mary Wells, but she subsequently exited the label. They tried in 1965 with Kim Weston, and the billowing passions found on "It Takes Two" helped it become Gaye's breakthrough single in the U.K. But then Weston followed Wells out the door. Gaye suffered through a failed collaboration with Oma Page, before finally finding the perfect match later in 1966 with Tammi Terrell. They scored a remarkable seven Top 40 singles before Terrell collapsed into Gaye's arms while onstage in 1967. She died at age 24, after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. – DeRiso

 

3. "Leather and Lace," Stevie Nicks and Don Henley (1981)

"Leather and Lace" could have just as easily been called "Whiskey and Honey" for Stevie Nicks and Don Henley's gorgeous vocal alchemy. The collaborators and former romantic partners weave a tale of two embattled lovers — one callous, the other tender — struggling to find common ground. An elegant acoustic guitar arrangement lays the foundation for Nicks and Henley's vocals — plaintive and captivating on their own, but truly spellbinding when they join forces in the song's heartrending chorus. - Rolli

 

2. "I Got You Babe,” Sonny & Cher (1965)

Sonny Bono was barely able to rouse Cher from a late-night slumber to sing her part on "I Got You Babe." "I didn't like it and just said, 'OK, I'll sing it and then I'm going back to bed,'" she explained to ABC News. Luckily, his persistence paid off. Bono was working for Phil Spector at the time and wisely kept this song - in which the couple vows everlasting love in the face of skeptical judgment from the outside world - for himself and his real-life wife. The chorus' insistent oboe adds an element of sophistication and timelessness. Released as the duo's first single in July 1965, "I Got You Babe" spent three weeks at the top of the chart. It has gone on to become of of the most enduring love songs in music history, boosted by media appearances such as the divorced couple's 1987 reunion on Late Night With David Letterman and its recurring role in Bill Murray's 1993 movie Groundhog Day. - Wilkening

 

1. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (1967)

Songwriters Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson knew what they had with "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and refused to give it to Dusty Springfield. "We felt like that could be our entry to Motown," Simpson told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2011. "Nick called it the 'golden egg.'" He was right: Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell took their song to the Billboard Top 20, establishing a sweetly romantic foundation that Diana Ross would mimic when the Supremes recorded an update of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" a year later with the Temptations. In 1970, she was convinced to take another swing and saw a radically reworked solo version streak to No. 1. – DeRiso

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