Holy crap, did I not post on Valentine’s Day? Ah well, the holiday sucks anyway.

Hmmm…there’s no good segue there. Lemme start over.
I spent all of last week exhibiting at a trade show in Vegas (don’t get excited, it was work work work…then again, that might be a good thing considering I made it through the week with only limited financial losses), and one night at dinner with my direct supervisor and her supervisor, the topic of music came up (as it often will when the attendees all work in the music biz), and one of us brought up two of the most underappreciated names in popular music:
Daryl Hall and John Oates.
If you’re under a certain age, you probably don’t know who the hell I’m talking about.
If you’re over a certain age, you are either nodding your head in approval or you’re just about to go into your favorites and click on another site, because you’re so “cool” that the thought of anyone having anything positive to say about Hall & Oates makes you retch. That’s okay. Go on to Pitchfork and read all the articles from people who enjoy mainstream music ironically.
Someone (I think it may have been Boy George) once said that it was more difficult to make music that millions of people can appreciate than it was to make something that a selected few “with it” people can enjoy and the mass public kinda scratches their head at (I’m paraphrasing wildly here, just so you know). For a few years, no one made earworms like Hall & Oates. The pop kids loved ’em, the soul kids loved ’em, even the hard rockers and the new wavers dug ’em on occasion. Even if you turn your nose up at the notion of digging some H2O, I bet you know the chorus to at least five of their songs.
As a product of the “Solid Gold”/”American Top 40” generation, it seemed like Daryl & John were inescapable for a minute. They were an oil-and-water duo from Philly. Oates was swarthy, short and mustachioed. Hall was blond, tall and pretty. He also had one hell of a voice (many consider him to be the best blue-eyed soul singer in history…I rank him up there with Van Morrison and Michael McDonald). While I don’t know that any of their albums are indispensable (and this will be the point where I admit that I own…counting…8 of their studio works in addition to two Daryl Hall solo albums), you should at the bare minimum own one of the several Hall & Oates singles compilations on the market (my vote is for the 2-disc “Essential” set).
Check out a short live clip of “Sara Smile” here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=U7Hducs6pdI
Over the course of a career that’s spanned some thirty-five years, Daryl & John have proven themselves adept at everything from slow-grooving balladry (“Sara Smile”) to power pop (“Kiss On My List”) to folk-y harmony ballads (“She’s Gone”). Along the way, they courted controversy with one of the gayest album covers in musical history (I remember Hall saying in an interview that even if he was gay, Oates wasn’t his type), they got the word “bitch” all the way to #1 on the pop charts way back in 1977 (“Rich Girl”), they inspired Michael Jackson’s best song (I’ll wait while you listen to the bassline of “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” and then listen to the bassline of “Billie Jean”), they gave Paul Young his biggest hit (“Everytime You Go Away”), created a song that makes an extended basketball metaphor sound incredibly sexy (“One On One”), made one of the 80s best Christmas songs and videos (“Jingle Bell Rock”), worked with everyone from Todd Rundgren and Robert Fripp to Mariah Carey and Bon Jovi, chipped in to Wu-Tang Clan’s most recognizable hit (“Method Man” borrows a portion of it’s chorus from 1984’s “Method Of Modern Love”-a song that had strong hip-hop elements long before any pop artists, white or black were making concessions to rap music) and made urban-radio airwaves safe for everyone from Madonna to George Michael. Although their primary genre was pop, they by no means played it safe. Their Seventies albums are extremely eclectic, featuring everything from country-folk to disco to avant-rock, and as stated before, they jumped aboard the hip-hop train pretty early.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=vouDK-LELEU (“I Can’t Go For That”-one of the Eighties best songs, period)
Despite a handful of offenses (Oates titling his solo album “Phunk Shui”, an irredeemable cover of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”), Daryl and John are still out there touring every summer, even as they both approach 60, playing to the fans that have been there from jump street, as well as their kids and grandkids at this point (we can thank newer bands like Gym Class Heroes for recognizing the duo’s brilliance and keeping their name alive).
Not just a great 80s band, not just a great pop band but one of the best singles acts in musical history, we salute you, Hall & Oates. Your musical kisses will forever be on our list.
The Essential Hall & Oates Mixtape:
“Sara Smile” (from Daryl Hall & John Oates, 1975)
“Grounds for Separation (from Daryl Hall & John Oates, 1975)
“Do What You Want, Be What You Are” (from Bigger Than Both of Us, 1976)
“Rich Girl” (from Bigger Than Both of Us, 1976)
“Melody for a Memory” (from Along the Red Ledge, 1978)
“Have I Been Away Too Long” (from Along the Red Ledge, 1978)
“I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” (from Private Eyes, 1981)
“Your Imagination” (from Private Eyes, 1981)
“Maneater” (from H2O, 1982)
“Open All Night” (from H2O, 1982)
“Family Man” (from H2O, 1982)
“One On One (12” Remix) (originally 1982, appears on “The Ballads Collection”)
“Say It Isn’t So” (from Rock ‘n Soul Part 1, 1983)
“Out of Touch” (from Big Bam Boom, 1984)
“Someone Like You” (from Hall’s solo album “Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine, 1986)
“Everything Your Heart Desires” (from Ooh Yeah!, 1988)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=Z30Nwiju-1Y (I’d love to find this mix somewhere)
“So Close” (from Change of Season, 1990: co-written by Jon Bon Jovi!!)
“Don’t Hold Back Your Love” (from Change of Season, 1990)
“She Got Me Bad” (from Do it for Love, 2003)
“Love T.K.O.” (from Our Kind of Soul, 2005)