7 Great Pop Duos That Arrived In The 1980s

7 Great Pop Duos That Arrived In The 1980s

Eurythmics, 1986. Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images.

From Simon & Garfunkel and The Carpenters to The White Stripes and Twenty One Pilots, good things often come in twos. That was especially true in the 1980s, with some of the best pop pairs of all time making their debut during the decade.

1. Eurythmics

Biggest ’80s hit: “Would I Lie To You?” (number 1, 1985)

With their previous band, The Tourists, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart scored a solitary hit with a remake of “I Only Wanna Be With You”, but when they decided to go it alone, they amassed 15 top 20 singles in the space of six years. Ranging from the clinical synthpop of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” to “There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)” and its joyous gospel inflections to the rock-influenced “Thorn In My Side”, Eurythmics proved themselves as versatile as they were popular.

2. Wham!

Biggest ’80s hit: “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” (number 1, 1984)

From their initial socially aware singles like “Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)” and “Young Guns (Go For It)” to the buoyant pop of “Freedom” and “Edge Of Heaven”, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley left an indelible mark on the world with their string of upbeat pop gems and sultry ballads. Wham! was never intended to be a long-term deal, and the duo went their separate ways while they were still at the top of their game (which for George meant moving on to a hugely successful solo career), but they achieved more in their short lifespan than many acts do across decades.

3. Pet Shop Boys

Biggest ’80s hit: “West End Girls” (number 5, 1986)

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe met in an electronics store in 1981, and by the middle of the decade had embarked on a career that continues to this day – 14th album Hotspot is released this month. Known for their prolific output, wry humour and inspired lyrics, Pet Shop Boys’ 1980s catalogue includes hits like “West End Girls”, “It’s A Sin”, “Domino Dancing” and their version of “Always On My Mind”, although their highest charting single in Australia came in 1994 when they recorded a Eurodance song inspired by British comedy Absolutely Fabulous.

4. Tears For Fears

Biggest ’80s hit: “Shout” (number 1, 1985)

Although keyboardist Ian Stanley and drummer Manny Elias were officially members of the band for their first two albums, The Hurting and Songs From The Big Chair, the cover image of the latter featured only Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, with the co-lead vocalists generally perceived as being Tears For Fears. Although things soured between the duo in the 1990s, they released some of the 1980s’ most ambitious pop, especially on 1989’s grandiose The Seeds Of Love.

5. Go West

Biggest ’80s hit: “We Close Our Eyes” (number 8, 1985)

Mostly remembered these days for 1990’s Pretty Woman hit “King Of Wishful Thinking”, British duo Peter Cox and Richard Drummie made a splash five years earlier with a trio of hits, “We Close Our Eyes” (complete with its memorable wrench-featuring video directed by white-hot pair Godley & Crme), “Call Me” and “Don’t Look Down”. Go West are regulars on the ’80s revival tour circuit, most recently visiting Australia in late 2019.

6. Yazoo

Biggest ’80s hit: ”Don’t Go” (number 6, 1982)

In between his time as a founding member of Depeche Mode and the launch of Erasure (and, less memorably, The Assembly), synthpop legend Vince Clarke teamed up with future solo star Alison Moyet for a couple of albums as Yazoo (or Yaz, as they were known in the US). The project didn’t last long, breaking down acrimoniously, but they managed to squeeze in back-to-back Australian top 10 hits with “Only You” and “Don’t Go” in 1982, as well as synth classic “Situation”.

7. Roxette

Biggest ’80s hit: “The Look” (number 1, 1989)

Successful in their homeland from the outset – their debut album, Pearls Of Passion, was released in 1986 – the late Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle went global in 1989, with a little help from an American exchange student who’d heard second album Look Sharp! while visiting Sweden. In Australia, Roxette quickly racked up seven straight top 10 hits, including “Listen To Your Heart”, “It Must Have Been Love” and “Joyride”, and continued to chart more modestly into the mid-’90s.

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