The 1980s are remembered fondly and celebrated to this day for their many cultural, social, and technological advancements, but perhaps the most significant aspect of the era was its music.

From the rise of MTV to the emergence of new wave, synthpop, and hair metal/glam rock, the 80s gave us some of the best musical work ever.

While the sounds of the 80s are synonymous with pulsing synths, shimmering melodies, electronic drums, and catchy hooks, the duet was another defining aspect of 80s music, with some of the decade’s most memorable songs being collaborations between male and female artists.

Today, I’m going to break down the 20 best male/female duets of the 80s that continue to capture the hearts and ears of music lovers around the globe. So, follow me as we dive right into some of the greatest duets songs ever sung.

The 20 Best Male/Female Duets of the 80s

“Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League

“Don’t You Want Me” is a classic synth-pop song by the great British 80s group, The Human League.

Released in 1981, “Don’t You Want Me” quickly became a massive hit and is now considered one of the greatest 80s songs ever written. The iconic song features a male/female duet between the group’s lead vocalist Phil Oakey and band member Susan Ann Sulley.

Known across the world for its extremely catchy synth hook and memorable chorus, the song is an enduring fan favorite and a shining example of the appeal of a great male/female duet.

“Islands in the Stream” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton

“Islands in the Stream” is sung by American country music legends the late great Kenny Rogers and the inimitable Dolly Parton.

Even though it was originally written by the Bee Gees, the song was released in 1983 as the lead single from Rogers’ 15th studio album, “Eyes That See in the Dark”.

“Islands in the Stream” features some truly melodic male/female duets, with Rogers and Parton beautifully singing about loving and supporting each other. The song’s infectious upbeat tempo and heartfelt chorus made it an instant hit, but it was the palpable vocal chemistry between Rogers and Parton that elevated it to classic status.

“Endless Love” by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie

“Endless Love” is a timeless ballad by American music legends Diana Ross and Lionel Richie.

Originally written for the soundtrack of the 1981 film of the same name, “Endless Love” features a delicately beautiful male/female duet between two of the greatest singers to have ever graced our ears.

The song was a massive hit and earned a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. To this day, “Endless Love” remains one of the most iconic love songs of all time and a shining example of the power of the male/female duet.

“Up Where We Belong” by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes

“Up Where We Belong” is a soaring 80s ballad sung by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes.

Released in 1982, the song was written specifically for the classic 80s romantic drama “An Officer and a Gentleman”.

“Up Where We Belong” won an Academy Award for Best Original Song and a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, which gives you an idea of how well received it was. If you want a showcase of the power of the male/female duet, this impressive song is the perfect example.

“I’ve Had The Time Of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes

“I’ve Had The Time Of My Life” is another iconic duet by Jennifer Warnes, this time with the great Bill Medley.  Released in 1987, the duet became an instant classic after its inclusion in the film “Dirty Dancing”.

Its upbeat tempo, catchy melody, and powerful vocals by Medley and Warnes make it an unforgettable moment in 80s history. So many years later, it remains a beloved duet that captures the joy of falling in love and is sure to make anyone want to hit the dance floor.

“It’s Only Love” by Bryan Adams with Tina Turner

“It’s Only Love” is a bluesy rock tune with a super catchy chorus and a perfect mixture of raspy vocals with more powerful singing from Bryan Adams and Tina Turner respectively.

 This dynamic and passionate duet was an electrifying chart-topper at the time of its release in 1985 and remains a hit to this day.

“Separate Lives” by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin

“Separate Lives” is a powerful ballad featuring both male and female vocals, released in 1985 by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin.

The song topped the charts in both the US and Canada and was also included in the film “White Nights”.

The song’s haunting melody combined with Collins’ signature voice and Martin’s soulful vocals results in a beautiful and highly emotive duet.

The lyrics, which deal with the pain of a failed relationship, are poignant and timeless, making “Separate Lives” a true classic.

“Opposites Attract” by Paula Abdul and The Wild Pair

Like most Paula Abdul songs, “Opposites Attract” is a catchy tune, this time sung in a duet format with The Wild Pair.

Released in 1989, the song was a chart-topper, and its partially animated music video became a pop culture phenomenon.

As always Abdul’s smooth vocals give the track a tangible upbeat likeability, and The Wild Pair’s rap verses blend seamlessly to create a playful example of just how much fun 80s music could be.

Its infectious beat and easy-to-remember chorus make this one a perennial favorite among fans of the genre.

“Don’t Give Up” by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush

This next entry was released in 1986 by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, two of the most unique and innovative voices in the 80s music scene.

The haunting song features beautiful vocals by Peter Gabriel accompanied by soaring harmonies from Ms. Bush that highlighted the powerful message of perseverance and hope in the face of adversity.

Many people also fondly remember the song’s video, a minimalistic take of the singers performing the song in the dark as they embrace each other, adding to the strong emotional impact of the lyrics.

“Feel The Fire” by Teddy Pendergrass and Stephanie Mills

In 1980 Teddy Pendergrass (one of my favorite male singers of all time) and Stephanie Mills got together to give us one of the most soulful duets between a male and female ever released.

Soaring strings give way to powerful and highly melodic vocal runs from both artists, with Pendergass providing a silky smoothness and Stephanie Mills injecting the song with an infectious dose of passion and longing.

The lyrics tell a passionate story of two lovers who are not able to fight against their chemistry and desire. The lyrics are stirring and the vocal performance is highly memorable, making “Feel the Fire” one of the standout male/female duets of the 80s.

“Solid” by Ashford & Simpson

“Solid” is a classic 80s R&B duet by the legendary songwriting husband and wife duo Ashford & Simpson.

Released in 1984, the song is structured around a playful call-and-response dynamic between the two singers, who pledge their love and commitment back and forth to each other.

Written with an upbeat tempo, a super catchy melody, and some very soulful vocals, “Solid” was a hit then and it remains a hit now.

“All I Ask Of You” by Sarah Brightman and Cliff Richard

This next male/female duet, released in 1986, comes to us by way of Sarah Brightman and Cliff Richard.

“All I Ask of You” is a beautiful ballad from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s timeless musical “The Phantom of the Opera” featuring some stunning vocal harmonies and a stunning emotional depth.

“Tonight, I Celebrate My Love” by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack

This 1983 ballad duet, performed by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack, tells the story of two people who have found true love and are celebrating their joy together.

The song is very emotional and showcases some incredible duet action thanks to the range and chemistry of both singers.

“Baby, Come to Me” by Patti Austin and James Ingram

“Baby, Come to Me” is a sweetly romantic R&B duet released in 1981 by Patti Austin and James Ingram.

Originally released on Patti Austin’s album “Every Home Should Have One,” it was re-released as a single in 1982 after being featured on the tv show “General Hospital,” where it became a bona fide hit.

The song features smooth vocals and a superbly catchy melody, and it stands as an enduring classic male/female duet of the 80s.

“I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” by Aretha Franklin and George Michael

“I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)”  is a powerful duet by the unlikely duo of Aretha Franklin and George Michael.

Released in 1987 the song was a booming commercial success, reaching No. 1 on both US and UK charts, and winning a Grammy for R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals 1987.

The duet is upbeat and highly soulful, and both Franklin and Michael bring their A-game to the song.

“Friends and Lovers” by Carl Anderson and Gloria Loring

“Friends and Lovers” is another classic 80s duet, this time by Carl Anderson and Gloria Loring. Released in 1986, the song is a melodious ballad that tells the story of two friends who find romance in each other.

The vocals are very powerful and Anderson’s melodies complement perfectly the impressive range on display by Loring.

“Friends and Lovers” was a huge commercial success, reaching the top of the charts and becoming a popular wedding song for many couples. The song remains a hit these many years later, landing it a spot on our list of the best 20 male/female duets of the 80s.

“The Next Time I Fall” by Peter Cetera and Amy Grant

This duet by Peter Cetera and Amy Grant was released in 1986 when it reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The duet showcases Cetera’s smooth vocals and Grant’s impressive range, making it a standout in a decade with a staggering number of great male/female duets.

Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around by Stevie Nicks With Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers

“Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” is a highly popular duet from the 80s, performed by the one-of-a-kind Stevie Nicks, of Fleetwood Mac fame, and the amazing Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

Released in 1981, the song offers the signature Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers sound, with a dose of Nicks’ distinctive voice and poetic lyrics.

“Leather and Lace” by Stevie Nicks and Don Henley

Stevie Nicks gives us another of the decade’s best male/female duets, this time with the help of Don Henley.

Peaking at number six on the US Billboard Hot 100, the track appeared on Nicks’s debut solo album “Bella Donna”.

“Love Power” by Dionne Warwick and Jeffrey Osborne

This duet is sung by Dionne Warwick and Jeffrey Osborne. Released in 1987, the song was a major hit, reaching #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

The vocal performances by Warwick and Osborne are some of the most emotional and passionate on this list, and the combination of Warwick’s soulful sensibilities with Osborne’s powerful phrasing makes this one of the truly unforgettable duets of the decade.