Daryl Hall and John Oates

The Quintessential 1980s Pop Due Known as Hall & Oates

Hall and Oates
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Comprised of Daryl Hall and John Oates, the musical duo Hall & Oates is responsible for some of the most profoundly catchy pop hits of the 1980s, from "You Make My Dreams" to "Maneater." Their lyricism and charm wooed American audiences, resulting in commercial if not critical success in the mid-1980s. 

However, by the end of the decade, the duo seemed to have fallen out of touch with mainstream culture and instead continued their musical careers as lyricists and composers, offering guidance and inspiration to generations of aspiring artists to this day.

A Rough Start

Hall and Oates met and played music together briefly during the late 1960s while attending Temple University in Philadelphia. However, they didn't begin a fruitful partnership until a couple of years later, after both had pursued music separately through session work and other bands. 

Together, under the name Hall & Oates, the duo signed with Atlantic Records and began to record and perform folk-inspired music. Their debut album "Whole Oates" started an early trend of mocking the breakfast-sounding last name of John but garnered little commercial success. Shortly thereafter, Hall & Oates followed with 1973's "Abandoned Luncheonette," but only charted once during this period with the initially underrated "She's Gone" off that album.

As their sound began to evolve, Hall & Oates released a final album with Atlantic with 1974's "War Babies," which featured more of a rock sound that disappointed many of the duo's soul fans.

Instant Stardom and Hit Machines

After shifting over to RCA Records in 1975, Hall & Oates began to explore some disparate styles, including rock, soft rock and pop by releasing a rebranded self-titled album. The hit "Sara Smile" served as a bridge between the duo's searching, exploratory period and its eventual chart-topping sound.

In 1977, "Rich Girl" revealed Hall's knack for keyboard riffs, a talent he would soon perfect when the pair exploded after the new decade arrived. By 1980 and the release of "Voices" — their biggest album to date — Hall & Oates had expertly tapped into the new era of music.

Embracing electronic sounds and employing funk and disco strands in its music, the duo had embarked upon a lengthy songwriting peak. Over the next two years Top 10 hits "Kiss on My List, " "You Make My Dreams, " "Private Eyes" and "Maneater" were all over the airwaves. Despite an inability to garner positive reviews, the Hall & Oates train was rolling along just fine.

Falling Out of Touch

In 1984, Hall & Oates surpassed The Everly Brothers as the most successful duo in rock history, having earned 19 gold and platinum awards. The duo amassed 14 Top 10 singles within a 12-year period at its peak, including five Number 1 hits.

However, the 1980s music landscape was nothing if not fickle, and the treachery of the business began to take its toll on Hall & Oates during the mid-Eighties even as the pair continued to make hit records.

The quality of songs suffered as well, and with the duo's best work behind them, the image-conscious MTV age gradually left the duo behind. Nevertheless, the pair continued to record and tour together intermittently into the '90s and perseveres today as a popular live act.

More Than Just Nostalgia

Even though Hall & Oates seemed even in their heyday to be destined for eventual time-capsule status, the quality of the duo's songwriting has stood the test of time.

And while the opening keyboard chords of "Kiss on My List" certainly have the ability to bring up wistful memories of a lost age, the tune itself displays an impressive mastery of melody, harmony and lyrical gifts. And, after all, the songs will always be the duo's greatest legacy.