Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hall & Oates Discover New Wave And Run With It

In Episode 2 of Yacht Rock, Oates slams Hall against the wall and shouts "Get your dick out of your heart. You even know what the kids in the street are listening to? Disco, motherfucker!" I doubt it went down quite like that, but at some point they must have turned the radio dial to a dance station and realized that their precious Philly Soul had become passe. They grabbed a synthesizer and a drum machine, and beginning with 1981's "Kiss On My List," they became ... inescapable.

Hall & Oates may have been huge, releasing five US #1 hits in the span of three years, but they weren't exactly "cool." At this point, Both Hall and Oates were in their 30s. To hip listeners, it was probably a bit like watching your dorky uncles try to "get down" with "the kids." Like any of that mattered to me. I was three years old, and as far as I was concerned, Hall & Oates were fucking gods.

My favorite moment of "You Make My Dreams" would have to be when Hall exclaims: "Now listen to this!" (at 1:43). And then nothing happens. Like, wait, what am I listening for exactly?

I remember when I was little I took "Private Eyes" literally and I imagined a bunch of private investigators in trench coats following some woman around. I didn't get the pun. "Private Eyes" may also feature the best use of hand claps in a pop song ever. And there have been a lot of pop songs with hand claps in them.

The title of "sleaziest Hall & Oates song" would have to go to "One On One," where Hall attempts to compare lovemaking to the playing of basketball:
I'm tired of playing all the team
Oh it seems I don't get time out anymore
What a change if we set the pace, face to face
No one even trying to score

How do you know when you're on fire? When even the new song you tack onto your Greatest Hits collection becomes a hit! Released in conjunction with Rock 'n Soul Part I (sadly there was never a Part II), "Say It Isn't So" doesn't sound like a classic Hall & Oates single right off the bat. But Hall & Oates are like ABBA or the Bee Gees: you need to have faith. Because when the chorus arrives...well, it touches me in places I didn't know I could be touched.

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