9 of Michael Jackson's best duets ever, from Paul McCartney to Stevie Wonder

9 March 2018, 17:38

Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney

During his incredibly successful career, Michael Jackson surprisingly didn't record or perform duets very often.

So, if you managed to secure a collaboration with the King of Pop, you knew you were doing something right.

We've picked our favourite ever duets featuring Michael Jackson, is yours in there?

1. 'I Just Can't Stop Loving You' (with Siedah Garrett)

The first single taken from Michael's Bad album, Siedah's presence on the track was a last-minute decision by Michael and producer Quincy Jones, after their first two choices, Barbra Streisand and Whitney Houston, both declined.

Before then, Siedah was a protégé of Jones's who co-wrote 'Man in the Mirror', and she didn't know that she would be singing the song until the day of the recording session. That must have been rather terrifying!

2. 'The Girl is Mine' (with Paul McCartney)

Perhaps surprisingly, this pop ballad was the first single to be taken from Jackson’s Thriller. The year before, Jackson and McCartney had duetted on the latter’s ‘Say Say Say’. The song features the pair fighting it out over the same girl. That girl must not have had a particular type.

Jackson said it was “one of my favourite songs to record” as there was “lots of playing, and throwing stuff at each other, and making jokes.” Bonus fact: Many members from Toto took part in the recording!

Jackson and McCartney fell out a few years later after Michael bought the rights to most Beatles songs. But first...

3. 'Say Say Say' (with Paul McCartney)

Produced by Beatles collaborator George Martin, this song was actually recorded before 'The Girl Is Mine', but was released a year later.

Michael stayed at the home of Paul and his wife Linda during the recording sessions, and became friends with both. While there, Paul apparently showed Michael a booklet that showed all the songs that he owned publishing rights for.

"This is the way to make big money", he told Michael. "Every time someone records one of these songs, I get paid. Every time someone plays these songs on the radio, or in live performances, I get paid." Whoops.

4. 'Just Good Friends' (with Stevie Wonder)

This song is somewhat similar to 'The Girl is Mine', in which it involves Michael and Stevie quarrelling over a girl.

Taken from the Bad album, the pair only ever performed it live together once, during the Australian leg of Jackson’s Bad tour. 

5. 'Scream' (with Janet Jackson)

This track was an aggressive attack directed at the tabloid media and their treatment of Michael throughout his career. 

Its music video cost $7 million, which was by far the most expensive ever made at the time.

Read more: 8 of the best duets from the 1980s

6. 'Thriller' (with Vincent Price)

Technically this was a duet!

Horror icon Vincent Price performs a famous ‘rap’ in the song. He recorded it on only his second take, after it had been written by Rod Temperton in the taxi on the way to the studio.

7. 'There Must Be More To Life Than This' (with Freddie Mercury)

Michael is known to have recorded several tracks with Queen legend Freddie Mercury in the 1980s.

One of these songs - 'There's Must Be More To Life Than This' - was later released on the Queen Forever album. They also recorded 'State of Shock', which was later reworked as a duet between The Jacksons and Mick Jagger. There was a third song - 'Victory' - which is still unreleased.

Read more: 8 secret songs we'll never get to hear

8. 'Upside Down' (with Diana Ross)

Taken from Diana Ross's 1981 TV special Diana, the Motown legend began singing her then-new track 'Upside Down'. Already a great performance, she then decided to bring up her good friend Michael Jackson for an impromptu duet of the song.

No gimmicks, no autotune, no miming, just pure brilliance between the pair.

9. 'Why' (with 3T)

Michael teamed up with his nephews 3T for this underrated ballad in 1996.

The song was meant to feature on his album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I, but Michael decided to give it away to his nephews.