Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald

First Hit #1: June 14, 1986

Duets are tricky, you’ve got to have two voices that go well together, and any miscalculation on either side can lead to one singer dominating a track and pushing their partner out of the picture. It’s especially difficult when you’ve got someone like Michael McDonald, who, apart from sporting one of the most amazing beard and hair combos in human history in the video, has a strong and complex baritone that, I have to say, I suddenly began to appreciate part-way through this track. It’s a good, powerful voice, and since he’s invested in the song he is putting out a strong performance. Luckily, he’s matched with Patti LaBelle, who also has a strong voice but one whose strength is distinctly different from McDonald’s. They are well matched but somehow incompatible, which sounds like a bad thing but is appropriate for the song. They do sound good together, each bringing something completely different to the table in order to form a complete whole, but they also don’t sound like they could work together for very long. In essence, they sound like a good idea for a short time, but perhaps not a duo that could collaborate on a large number of tracks. Perfect, then, for a song about breaking up.

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2 Responses to Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald

  1. RBerman says:

    This should not be a 1986 song. This song belongs in the early 80s between tracks by Air Supply and Christopher Cross. Still, a decent he said/she said duet in the spirit of Diamond/Streisand’s “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” or Gotye/Kimbra’s “Somebody That I Used To Know,” though more wistful and less bitter than either of those. McDonald and LaBelle are too tired to be mad anymore.

  2. RBerman says:

    P.S. I can see why you’d call Michael McDonald a baritone, given his rich voice. But he’s actually a tenor, which is why he’s able to sing in the same octave and key as Patti Labelle, a mezzo-soprano.

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