the 12 best female pop duets ever

With Rita Ora, Charli XCX, Cardi B and Bebe Rexha teaming up for the anthemic Girls, we look back at some of the greatest girl power collabs of all time.

by Alim Kheraj
11 May 2018, 7:00am

Regularly, music fans get themselves into a tizzy debating on Twitter about which of today’s crop of female pop stars should join forces in a display of girl power to record a 2018 version of Lady Marmalade. This happens because, as everyone knows, women make the best pop music (sorry, it is fact).

There have been some attempts to recreate the mystical female force that Xtina, Pink, Mya and Lil’ Kim exhibited, too. Earlier this year, Dua Lipa enlisted the help of Charli XCX, Zara Larsson and Alma and for a live version of her hit IDGAF; Charli also brought together Alma and Tove Lo for Out Of My Head from Pop 2. Then there are the other female collabs that have sizzled: Beyoncé x Nicki, Ariana, Jessie and Nicki, and now Rita Ora, Charli XCX, Cardi B and Bebe Rexha with their new female-lovin’ anthem Girls.

To celebrate so much greatness, we’ve decided to look back at the greatest ever female collabs.

1. Britney Spears and Madonna, Me Against the Music
After The Kiss at the VMAs, it was inevitable that Britney and Madonna would record a song together. The result is the kind of slick and sweaty R&B pop that you want from two of pop’s power players. And there’s literally nothing better than when Madonna coos: “Hey Britney, come over here I’ve got something to show ya.”

2. Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, Telephone
Beyoncé telling Lady Gaga that she’s been a bad girl before they go off and kill a whole diner full of people is one of the greatest music video moments of all time. Telephone is also the sort of pop banger that you want two bloody megastars like Bey and Gaga releasing. It’s absurd and bombastic and just totally insane.

3. Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, When You Believe
In this house we stan vocalists. Specifically The Voice herself Whitney Houston and vocal acrobat Mariah Carey. The fact that this song came about after years of rumoured feuds and shade throwing, is perhaps a testament to the song’s message: who knows what miracles you can achieve when you believe?

4. Destiny’s Child and Celine Dion, Emotions
This entry is technically cheating as it was never recorded and released by both artists together, but there is a lot to be said for this totally insane duet between Celine Dion (!) and Destiny’s Child (!!). Not only does Beyoncé really go for it, but Celine exhibits some power behind her falsetto, even if she does look a bit like she’s stumbled into the wrong room for karaoke.

5. Eve and Gwen Stefani, Let Me Blow Your Mind
Dr Dre’s minimal and breezy production barely contains the attitude that both Eve and Gwen Stefani exude on Let Me Blow Your Mind; it’s the sort of song you wouldn’t want to meet down a dark alley. Eve spits bars of fire, while Gwen’s aloofness is the epitome of cool. This is “you can’t sit with us” in musical form.

6. Brandy and Monica, The Boy is Mine
Ahh, Brandy and Monica. While normally we’d put the brakes on a song where two women battle over the affections of a man (gross), The Boy is Mine was actually inspired by Brandy watching an episode of The Jerry Springer Show, which is 100% amazing. Also, Monica and Brandy collaborated to quash rumours that the pair were feuding, too. And then there is that Darkchild harp and the piston-like percussion. Total perfection.

7. Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj, Bang Bang
Sure, at times Bang Bang verges on being a racket, but this Number 1 smash featuring Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj is maybe the closest we’ve come to a replica of Lady Marmalade in its sheer pop recklessness. It’s a throw in the kitchen sink kind of song but sometimes that’s what the world needs.

8. Beyoncé and Shakira, Beautiful Liar
We’ve included the Freemason’s remix of Beyoncé and Shakira’s Beautiful Liar because it is clearly the superior version of this stomping wronged-woman anthem. Shakira’s unique warble compliments Beyoncé’s flawless vocal delivery, the pair shaking their hips like no-one’s business.

9. Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera, Do What U Want
Imagine if, instead of performing this on an episode of The Voice, Xtina and Gaga had debuted this duet as a lip sync for your life on Rupaul’s Drag Race. Now THAT would have been a moment.

10. Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé, Feeling Myself
Why is it taking so long for Beyoncé to release a rap album? Seriously, B! Nevertheless, Feeling Myself is one badass tune that’s so fire it could stop the world. The hypnotic production and Beyoncé’s soothing voice offset Nicki’s unpredictable virtuoso and delectable boasting.

11. Christina Aguilera, Pink, Mya and Lil’ Kim (+ cameo from Missy Elliott), Lady Marmalade
God is clearly a woman because how else would this, the greatest achievement of womankind, have come into existence? Mya’s innocence, Pink’s grit and Lil’ Kim’s blunt-as-they-come contribution are more than just warm ups for Christina’s colossal final verse. But goodness, when Christina comes in it’s like an angel descending from heaven. The vocal runs. The sheer confidence. The crimped hair! The greatest of all time.

12. Rita Ora, Charli XCX, Cardi B and Bebe Rexha, Girls
Because it’s new and shiny, we’re also going to include this new girl-lovin’ jam featuring a Who’s Who of today’s female pop upstarters. Rita (back from musical purgatory) is confident, Charli is boastful, Bebe is vulnerable and Cardi is, well, Cardi.

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