Whether or not you think Valentine’s Day is a complete joke, it’s a good excuse to celebrate love in all its forms. Which, in this case, means celebrating love in its most pure, exuberantly intimate form: music video couples.
Music history is riddled with visual duets of lovers sharing their feelings across four minutes of confessional balladry. And in spite of hearing just about every combination of this medium imaginable, there are several gold standards (particularly from the blissfully wonderful early 2000s) that have yet to outstay their welcome.
While most of these picks see well-shot, high-budgeted celebrations of plain old romantic love, some celebrate bad ass friendships and the simple joys of being promiscuous. Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Drake and Rihanna, and old school pairings like Ja Rule and Ashanti, Eve and Gwen Stefani are here to get you in the mood for love. Regardless of whether or not you have a boo, bust open the chocolates and get down to our Top 10 Favorite Music Video Couples.
10. Ciara & Ludacris – “Ride”
Easily the sexiest video of 2010, “Ride” has got Ciara moving to some unreal choreography and wearing a floor-length fur coat and bodysuit. Ludacris doesn’t even show up until halfway through, right before Ciara proceeds to “ride the beat” on a mechanical bull. The video caused some controversy as it was allegedly banned from BET, when in reality Ciara never got back to them with PG-rated edits. Whoops.
9. Beyoncé & Jay Z – “03 Bonnie & Clyde”
Before twins, Blue Ivy, and “Drunk In Love” (even before “Crazy in Love”) Bey and Jay collabed on “03 Bonnie & Clyde”. Driving across the U.S.-Mexico border, on the run from the authorities for some sort of bad ass criminal activity that has them counting cash in sketchy motel rooms, their undeniable chemistry sparked rumours about their relationship status immediately upon its release back in 2002. Key moments include a telephone booth makeout session, whilst both wearing Timberlands (in true early 2000s style, Bey’s are Manolo Blahnik) and Beyoncé casually chilling with a majestic horse by the beach.
8. K-Ci & Jojo – “All My Life”
Depending on how old you are and where you’re from, this one may have been a middle or high school slow dance staple. And if so, how lucky you are. K-Ci and Jojo, a team of gal-pals for the ages, serenade a crowd in a ridiculous marble concert hall interspersed with heartwarming displays of regular people love in the deliciously ’90s visual interpretation of their duet. The matching outfits alone make the video iconic – white gloves and scarves, Versace sunglasses and silk vests forever.
7. Sean Paul ft. Sasha – “I’m Still In Love With You”
Jamaican dancehall king Sean Paul teamed up with DJ and songstress Sasha for a reggae love ballad. This was generally perceived to be an excellent choice. They spend most of the video dancing on a yellow and orange set, which may be confining, but does little to dull their smoldering chemistry. Meanwhile, clubgoers perform impressively choreographed couple’s dances. It’s cute and all but let’s be real, Sasha should have probably given up on Sean Paul if he insisted on wearing those terrible jeans in public.
6. Nelly Furtado & Timbaland – “Promiscuous”
Nelly Furtado’s first foray into R&B was “Promiscuous” featuring rapper/producer extraordinaire Timbaland. It found international success and forever set the tone for both guys and girls of the mid-2000s to take pride in their burgeoning need to sleep with everyone possible.
The set up for the video is pretty straightforward: a nightclub, some sensual lighting, sensual dancing, lots of low rise jeans and hats. But there is one defining, true star of the video: Timbaland’s facial expressions. And though he and Furtado aren’t your typical couple, the video proves that anyone can be a great fit when you’re a promiscuous.
5. Usher & Alicia Keys – “My Boo”
Imagine for a moment, that it is still 2004. Usher and Alicia Keys have both just released career-defining albums and are the biggest artists around. And now they appear in a music video together. And it also happens to be one hell of a head trip. Usher is watching his own music video, then turns it off as he’s so consumed thinking about Alicia Keys, who is conveniently lounging in a silky slip at home.
They are both separately compelled to go to Times Square, Usher choosing an environmentally-friendly subway trip, nearly getting run over by a cab in his love-induced daze, while Alicia rolls up in a car. “Back when R&B made you WANT to fall in love…”, writes one YouTube commenter, summing up in a few words the feeling of every second of this video.
4 . Eve & Gwen Stefani – “Let Me Blow Ya Mind”
This dynamic duo is clearly up to no good as they, true to their word, effectively blow our minds for four minutes. Gwen pulls up to Eve who is rolling deep riding a four wheeler, obviously, and decides to abandon her sweet ride to go crash a black tie event with the crew. Despite not being dressed for the occasion, they waltz right in, take over the stage, turn up the party, and upset some old, boring white people who get them thrown in jail for reasons that seem more than a little shady.
But at the end of the day, Eve and Gwen are here to remind you that regardless of your relationship status or felony convictions, you can always go cause a ruckus with your best friend. That’s a love that holds just as true.
3. Ja Rule & Ashanti – “Always On Time”
Ja Rule was the reigning king of early 2000s R&B duets, pairing up with J.Lo, Mary J. Blige, and Ashanti multiple times, most notably with the latter on this classic gem. In the video, Ja Rule is blessed enough to have several women in his life that are there when he needs them.
They make him breakfast after he’s finished giving himself a pep talk in the bathroom mirror, when he needs an escape boat to leave his mansion in the middle of breakfast, when his Continental breaks down on the side of the road and needs fixing, and even when he absolutely must leave his concert in a Murder Inc. branded hot air balloon while some sort of strange, exploding-sun apocalypse is going down.
We occasionally catch glimpses of Ashanti chilling with Ja on some bleachers and alone in some sort of CGI grotto, but their minimal shared screen time means little when stacked up against the weight of their truly deep connection.
2. Drake & Rihanna – “Take Care”
Since 2009, Drake and Rihanna have been relentlessly teasing us with their undeniable chemistry. They’ve collaborated on four hit songs, have dated on and off, and have most recently added to their saga with the sultry video for Rihanna’s “Work” and Drake’s subsequent declaration of his love for Rih at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards.
But it is here, with “Take Care,” that their story truly begins. Compared to the sensory overload of the other videos on this list, the visuals of “Take Care” are sparse and strikingly minimal. All you need is the sublime beauty of nature – Mountains, fish, birds, Drake and Rihanna.
1. Nelly & Kelly – “Dilemma”
A canonical music video in its own right, regardless of whatever theme you tie it into, “Dilemma” is nothing short of a cultural milestone. It features Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland on her own with everyone’s favourite face bandage wearer Nelly engaged in what has become synonymous with music video romance.
It goes a little like this: Kelly moves into Nellyville with her mom, immediately catching Nelly’s eye from across the street. They make eyes at each other from their respective porches, but Kelly’s boo soon shows up in his two-seater Benz. Soon after, Kelly swoops Nelly in said two-seater, and they eventually dance in the middle of the moonlit street.
Seeing as Kelly seems fed up with her current boo, it’s strange that her and Nelly don’t get together, but perhaps it’s due to communication issues, as Kelly inexplicably attempts to text him via Microsoft Excel. Shakespeare would have killed to write a romance as legendary as this one, and they are undoubtedly our favorite music video couple.
For more of our music features, take a look at some of the most egregious Grammy robberies in history right here.