Daryl Hall & John Oates
This self-titled album, the duo’s fourth, took Hall & Oates back to the blue-eyed soul sound that had been mostly missing from their previous album, the Todd Rundgren–produced War Babies. This set's breakthrough hit, “Sara Smile,” gave Hall & Oates name recognition and proof that they had commercial potential, if it were properly tapped. The album was also their first for RCA Records, which would eventually figure out what to do with them. (Atlantic hadn't been able to find them a comfortable niche—though the excellent Abandoned Luncheonette would benefit from the post-“Sara Smile” rerelease of “She’s Gone.”) In later years, Hall’s “Grounds for Separation” from this album was sampled by Kanye West in his song “Fight with the Best,” while Oates’ “Alone Too Long” was chosen as the theme song for the HBO program Hello Ladies. From the gorgeous smooth rock of “Camellia” to the "bonus demos" “What’s Important to Me” and “Ice,” this album largely succeeds as a mix of smooth singer/songwriter folk-soul-pop and modest rock.