Daryl Hall and John Oates received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame today, giving sleazy Hall & Oates impersonators an exciting new place to pose for photos. Hall & Oates originally met in a service elevator, escaping a melee at a concert where they were both scheduled to perform with their respective bands (Hall with The Temptones and Oates with The Masters). The two musicians made plans to hang out, and the rest is rock ‘n’ roll history.
Born of Philadelphia soul, Hall & Oates released albums throughout the ‘70s with a mix of soulful singing and pop hooks. With 1980’s Voices, the duo truly began to embrace what would be the Hall & Oates sound: A hooky mix of blue-eyed soul and new wave power-pop that would give way to their breakthrough album, Private Eyes, released 35 years ago this week. The album featured Temptations-style soul (“Looking For A Good Sign”), Oates’ crunchy power-pop (“Friday Let Me Down”), and the album’s second single, “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” which showcases the Roland CompuRhythm, an early drum machine. The album made it to the top of the Billboard U.S. R&B chart—not rare for a Philly soul group, but certainly rare for a couple of white boys.
Hall & Oates continued to dominate the Reagan era with their pop songwriting, but also embraced the era of MTV with their sometimes silly—but always memorable—music videos (usually featuring G.E. Smith, bassist T-Bone Wolk, and most of the Saturday Night Live Band). The duo continued to put out music throughout the ‘90s and ’00s.
John Oates will be releasing his memoir Change Of Season in April of 2017, while Daryl Hall continues having all of his rich musician friends over to eat, drink, and rock out on Live At Daryl’s House.
These days, Hall & Oates have retained a cult following from young people who mistakenly refer to the duo as “Yacht Rock,” supporting the assumption that they’re more into irony than actual music (or actual Yacht Rock, for that matter). As Nicholas Pell of L.A. Weekly argued earlier this year:
What you can’t do is not like Hall and Oates. And sorry, some ironic karaoke appreciation of them isn’t going to cut the mustard, nor is labeling them a “guilty pleasure.” Though, if you’re not doing “Kiss on My List” at karaoke, you’re kind of fucking up. You’re right, Captain Bonnaroo. Radiohead are definitely way better, and you’re mad smart for listening to boring, “difficult” music.
The reason Hall and Oates make for such a compelling litmus test is that you have to be either an idiot or a genius to appreciate them. The tunes are catchy, hearkening back to the best of what made Motown’s poppiest pop great. It’s that simple and that complicated. You can groove on the sugary sweet simplicity of the melody or you can dive down deep into the nuances of the rhythm section and the harmonies. The choice is yours.
And for those who want to know “What did Oates do?,” simply check out his Wikipedia for a list of the songs he sang lead on. Hall & Oates attended the unveiling ceremony earlier today in Hollywood.