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From Jay-Z to Axl Rose: The five worst duets in the history of rock music

Rock ‘n’ roll is a weird and wonderful world. While the genre has given us some of the best music in history, it has also conjured up some of the worst – along with no end of crazy tales. It’s almost as if to be a successful musician, it comes as a prerequisite that you have to be slightly unhinged.

Thankfully though, these days, the age-old stereotype of the ‘rockstar’ seems to be dying out. It has been proven time and time again that as a way of life, it is futile, and all the excess and total commitment to hedonism will only end in one way.

Nonetheless, there still exist those who we still perceive as ‘rockstars’. They’re either part of a dying breed, like the surviving Rolling Stones or Beatles members, or are now a total walking caricature. The likes of Mötley Crüe and Kid Rock are those that instantly spring to mind. Either way, rock music continues to be the gift that keeps on giving whether it be in the form of good music or material that is so awful it’s funny.

Musicians are musicians, there’s no getting away from it, and there will always exist a degree of going against the grain due to just how naturally different from your everyday Joe they seem to be. Whether it be backstage fights or crazy drug-addled stories, there will always exist these kinds of tales, just maybe not in the massive volume that they did once upon a time.

Given that this set of individuals have a penchant for a surprise, they’ve also given us something else on numerous occasions across the years; the duet. There have been so many, it is truly dizzying. However, there does seem to be a common thread with duets, whether it’s in rock, pop or otherwise – they’re rarely good.

Duets tend to rank among some of the worst pieces of music ever released, serving only as a vanity project for those involved. If you quickly cast your mind back to some of the duets that have sent shivers down our spines over the years, you’ll heed this point loud and clear.

This got us thinking, then, what are the worst rock duets of all time? With an innumerable amount to pick from, this was no easy task. We’ve stripped it down to just five in the hope of giving you a concise picture of what a rock duet should not sound/look like.

Unsurprisingly, expect to see some of the most ridiculous characters in rock and roll history.

The five worst rock music duets ever:

U2 / Green Day – ‘The Saints Are Coming’ (2006)

This truly is an abomination. It is a sonic embodiment of everything that’s wrong with modern rock, a total vanity project, and there’s no surprise that it features U2.

Apart from the fact that both bands managed to ruin the Skids’ classic punk track via U2’s overdone, overproduced sound, they take all of the organic fury out of the original and water it down to a flimsy husk of its former glory via their very, very mediocre musicianship. The guitar playing is so vanilla that the late Stuart Adamson would be turning in his grave.

Additionally, Billie Joe Armstrong’s pointless recital of the verse of The Animals’ ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ is nothing but cringe. The 2000s were crap, weren’t they?

Linkin Park / Jay-Z – ‘Numb/Encore’ (2004)

Ok, there were parts of the 2004 Linkin Park/Jay-Z EP, Collision Course, that were decent. Separately, early Linkin Park and Jay-Z are untouchable, there’s no denying it. 

However, the ‘Numb/Encore’ mashup is pure cheese. It doesn’t matter if it’s the studio version or the live version that features Paul McCartney; again, it is a case of the 2000s being too ridiculous. It doesn’t hold up well, and the self-awareness of all involved ranks at about 0.5%. It’s just too much.

Sebastian Bach / Axl Rose – ‘Back in the Saddle’ (2007)

Even in 2007, it was hard to believe that this sort of music still existed. An awful blend of cock-rock and heavy metal, this is the sort of music that has been parodied so many times over the years. It is in this realm of music where we still get our musicians who are guilty of taking themselves very seriously, the Aldous Snow prototype.

The worst part about it is rendition is that it’s an Aerosmith cover, and they do Perry, Tyler and the rest of the band no justice. Taken from ex-Skid Row vocalist Sebastian Bach’s third solo record, Angel Down, this is just one of three tracks that featured Axl Rose’s unmistakable vocals. Two words: not good.

Sammy Hagar / Kid Rock / Joe Satriani – ‘Knockdown Dragout’ (2013)

On paper, ex-Van Halen vocalist, Sammy Hagar, everyone’s least favourite Dixie rocker Kid Rock and guitar virtuoso, Joe Satriani, sounds god awful. To everyone’s total and utter surprise, it was! One of the worst songs I’ve ever heard, it’s hard to believe that there’s even a market for this kind of effort.

Again, it can only be described as a vanity project and a joke. It’s because of songs like this that rock lost its supremacy in music. Hagar, Rock and the like should be sent into space via Bezos’ floating dildo, and stay there.

Alice Cooper / Donovan – ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ (1973)

This one is just weird. It is so very ’70s, and the vocal back and forth between Cooper and Donovan is one the clearest examples in music of why you should not abuse drugs. Donovan’s falsetto that’s panned in your left ear is really strange, and almost sinister sounding. He tries to be hard rock, but he’s just not. While the track is rolling it’s almost unfathomable that Mr. ‘Mellow Yellow’ is attempting to be all rock ‘n’ roll.

Furthermore, Cooper sounds like he’s underwater, giving the song a really jarring feel as Donovan’s creepy whispers sound like he’s stood right behind you. Just like the 2000s, the 1970s was a very weird time. It was projects like this that culminated in punk’s arrival and attempting to wash all the egos of the ‘classic’ rockstars away.