Throughout the history of music, there have been been some pretty amazing musical parings; Simon & Garfunkel, Lennon & McCartney, Captain & Tennille, the list goes on. But some of the greatest pairings have come from the coming together of vocalists of different genders in a way that they complement each other brilliantly and maintain some gorgeous harmonies that would otherwise be unheard.
There have been plenty of acts that have utilised this male and female dynamic, creating some brilliant tunes in the process. Of course, Australia isn’t excluded from this either, with plenty of these groups coming from our fine country. Acts such as The Seekers, Angus & Julia Stone, and San Cisco are all notable Aussie examples of this.
So we’ve decided to take a look back at some of the greatest bands that employ a healthy mix between female and male vocalists.
Fremantle’s San Cisco broke onto the Aussie music scene in 2011 thanks to their infectious hit ‘Awkward’. Fresh from capturing the hearts and minds of music fans around the country, the group kept in the public eye by releasing their debut, self-titled record in 2012, and their follow-up, Gracetown, in 2015.
Featuring Scarlett Stevens and Jordi Davieson tackling vocal duties, San Cisco have managed to make a name for themselves not only in Australia, but internationally as well, after their famous cover of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ went viral. With their third record, The Water, in the pipeline, the Western Australian quartet are set to dominate the airwaves yet again as they continue to do what we love to see them doing.
Undoubtedly one of the most famous alternative rock groups of all time, Sonic Youth formed in 1981, and throughout their 30 year career, managed to become one of the most influential and well-known groups of the last few decades. With a penchant for experimenting with odd time signatures, varied guitar tunings, and heavily experimental rhythmic structures, the group also pushed the boundaries of what was expected of a rock group by having two vocalists.
Often seen as being fronted by Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon frequently took on vocal duties throughout the history of the group, appearing as the lead vocalist in some of the group’s biggest hits, such as ‘Kool Thing’, and ‘Bull In The Heather’. Sadly, the group split up in 2011 at the same time as Moore and Gordon’s marriage, but who knows if they’ll reconcile and if we’ll see another Sonic Youth tour.
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The Dead Weather
The Dead Weather are known to a casual music listener as ‘one of Jack White’s bands’, but to the discerning music fan, there’s more to it than just that. The Dead Weather are a supergroup consisting of Jack White (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs), Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Dean Fertita (Queens Of The Stone Age), and Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs, City And Colour).
Formed in 2009 after White lost his voice before a Raconteurs show, the group is fronted equally by White and Mosshart, featuring vocal contributions from both musicians. One of the most charismatic performers alive, Alison Mosshart frequently overshadows Jack White’s performances, adding an extra level of intensity to her live shows, and blowing away concert crowds in the process.
Angus & Julia Stone
Angus & Julia Stone are a brother and sister duo who started making music in 2006, much to the future delight of legions of fans around the worldwide. The group saw success almost immediately thanks to the intoxicating voice of Julia, and the chilled out voice of Angus. The duo’s success kept on growing, culminating in them reaching the top spot in the triple j Hottest 100 for 2010 with ‘Big Jet Plane’.
Both Angus and Julia have embarked on solo journeys, with Angus’ solo career taking on three different names, once as Lady Of The Sunshine, once as Angus Stone, and most recently as Dope Lemon. Meanwhile, Julia has seen her fair share of success, and has recently been a featured vocalist on many songs by artists such as Golden Features and Jarryd James.
Fleetwood Mac are one of the most successful rock groups of all time, with their magnum opus, 1977’s Rumours, having gone on to sell more than 45 million copies. Originally having formed in 1967 by drummer Mick Fleetwood, the group added Christine McVie in 1970, and Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks in 1974. With a well established lineup, the group began to record a number of hits before they hit gold with Rumours.
The vocal interplay between Buckingham and Nicks was one of the key factors in the albums success, with the emotion and variety apparent between the two vocalists being very apparent. Arguably, Fleetwood Mac’s status as a group that employs both female and male vocals appears to be one of main reasons that the group became as famous as they did, especially considering the lukewarm critical reception their earlier record garnered.
Indie pop duo Chymes are the perfect example of a male and female vocal dynamic that works so perfectly, it almost seems like two halves of a single voice. Having met working on an earlier project, the Central Coast duo of lead vocalist Kierstan Nyman and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Cameron Taylor discovered that their writing styles meshed, allowing them to develop dark and intimate lyrical themes, and deliver them as one.
The pair have impressed with last year’s Grow EP, and their delicate new single ‘Bloom’ shows us the songwriting partnership has plenty left in the tank.
The B-52s have long been considered as one of the most well-known new wave bands that emerged during the 1970s. Formed in Athens, Georgia in 1977, the group’s debut single ‘Rock Lobster’ was released the following year and took music fans by surprise due to its kooky nature. The song features a typically new wave approach to songwriting, but with Fred Schneider’s unconventional vocals, backed by the equally adventurous vocals of Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson, music fans were cautiously fanatical about the group.
Sadly, original guitarist and older brother of Cindy, Ricky Wilson passed away in 1985, with the group continuing as a four piece. The infectious vocal styles of Schneider, Wilson, and Pierson still remain, becoming one of the most well-known and beloved aspects of the group.
Forming in Montreal, Canada in the early ’00s, Arcade Fire quickly rose to prominence as one of the most beloved indie-rock collectives of recent years. With the success of their debut record Funeral, in 2004, the group toured internationally, receiving awards and acclaim for their work, before eventually settling down to work on their follow-up, Neon Bible, in 2007. Their 2010 record, The Suburbs, won the Grammy award for album of the year, leading many fans to seriously question “Who the fuck are The Suburbs?”
But the heart and soul of the band can be traced back to its members, most notably its dual lead vocalists, the husband and wife team of Win Butler and Régine Chassagne. The duo’s vocals complement each other in such a way that while one sings lead, the other is able to perfectly accompany the other in such as way that their vocals sound almost like another instrument in the mix, rather than another vocalist.