Just Listen: Hall and Oates

I seriously dig Hall and Oates. I believe they epitomize everything that was awesome about music in the 80’s. Their songs have really strong hooks that get stuck in my head, but in a pleasant (rather than annoying) manner. The melodies are often upbeat, incorporating elements of soul, rock, pop and new wave. Basically, they are amazing.

I won’t pretend to have knowledge of their entire catalog; I’ve pretty much kept it to their singles only. The great thing about Hall and Oates is that they have had so many singles, there is a large selection to choose from. I wanted to focus on my favorites, which happened to be mostly clustered around 1981. Coincidence or best year in music? Enjoy!

“Sara Smile” (1976)

I remember listening to this with my mom as a child, her singing along as it played. I enjoy the slower tempo; most of H&O’s hit songs are very upbeat so this is a nice contrast. My favorite part is the end of the first verse:

When I feel cold, you warm me
And when I feel I can’t go on, you come and hold me
It’s you and me forever

Such a great sentiment. And what everyone wants to hear. This is just a really pretty love song.

“Kiss On My List” (1981)

The beginning of this song is worth the price of admission. The drums done via keyboard? So eighties and so wonderful.

I enjoy this song solely for the lyrics. And the sweet drums mentioned above. It’s just so sweet and innocent. Can’t resist kisses? That’s adorable.

“You Make My Dreams” (1981)

Can anyone hear this song and not think of the scene in The Wedding Singer where Sammy is driving the limo on a practice run and hits two cones? “They were cones!”

With the first hit of the drum, my feet begin tapping. The song keeps a steady beat, just asking for you to dance to it. I love the backing vocals. For some reason I really get a kick out of the “ooh” in the chorus. Daryl Hall is awesome, sounding like he’s having a total blast (as the music video confirms). He really sells making dreams come true. Finally, my favorite part:

I’m down on my daydream
Oh, that sleepwalk should be over by now
I know
‘Bout you
Yeah, yeah
You make my dreams come true

The way Hall sings the line “‘Bout you” is priceless. It gets me every time.

“Private Eyes” (1981)

This is my absolute favorite song by Hall and Oates. I love the opening guitar riff. It is instantly recognizable (to me) and really holds it own against the keyboard. The handclap chorus is epic. Why don’t more songs feature clapping?

The best part, in my opinion, is the fact that the chorus is a little creepy:

You can’t escape my
Private eyes
They’re watching you
They see your every move
Private eyes
They’re watching you
Private eyes
They’re watching you watching you watching you watching you

Yes, this sounds like a serial killer’s manifesto. It also sounds like the greatest song ever written by Daryl Hall.

“I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” (1981)

One word for you: saxello. I didn’t know what one was until I began doing “research” for this post (aka watching youtube videos and reading Wikipedia). Now I know and I don’t think I would go back if I could.

More words for you: I’ve never heard the word “I” sung in such a sensual manner. Seriously, I’m digging it. Bonus points for Oates and Charles DeChant contributing the most amazing “no” I have ever heard.

I’d like to talk specifically about the video for a moment. Smoke fills the room as Hall snaps next to the keyboard. He continues to saunter around the room snapping before turning that keyboard up and getting down to business. We are treated to a mysterious hand that I believe belongs to John Oates, along with more finger snapping. Why isn’t this the model for ALL music videos ever created?

Veronica Mars

Best use of a Hall and Oates song? EVER? I think yes.


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