Daryl Hall & John Oates

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  • H2O

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About Daryl Hall & John Oates

The American songbook would be considerably slimmer were it not for the contributions of Daryl Hall & John Oates. Since they teamed up in Philadelphia in 1970, many of their songs have gone on to become enduring radio staples and standards for generations of musicians to cover. That influence is only fitting for a duo who drew from the distant past, smuggling doo-wop, rock ‘n’ roll, and vintage R&B into the MTV era by virtue of sleek production and irresistible vocal harmonies. It took them some time to get the balance right: Flirting with folk rock on 1973’s Abandoned Luncheonette and disco on 1975’s self-titled LP, the duo gradually hit upon a sound they would come to call “rock and soul,” but that barely begins to capture the range that Hall & Oates would make their trademark from 1980’s Voices onward. Few chart-topping artists better encapsulate the 1980s’ anything-goes pop ethos: hard rock, power pop, and New Wave all found a home in their tightly arranged yet expansively visionary sound, even as they paid tribute to classics like The Righteous Brothers’ 1964 hit, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” With 1981’s “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do),” they drizzled liquid synths and vocals over slinky electronic drums; on 1984’s Big Bam Boom, they turned to hip-hop pioneer Arthur Baker to beef up their beats. Yet the very next year, they were onstage at the Apollo Theater with members of The Temptations, the Motown act that taught them half of what they knew about singing. But as modern as they could sound—and they never sounded fresher than on 1982’s H2O, with its gated drums and high-gloss synths, the very epitome of ’80s pop-rock—it’s Hall and Oates’ timeless hooks that keep minting new generations of fans. Their effortless soul, meanwhile, cemented their legend status, influencing Daft Punk, Chromeo, Bruno Mars, and similarly retro-minded pop fusionists, and making the duo a staple of the 2000s’ yacht-rock revival.

Philadelphia, PA, United States
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