May 032012

I caught the following Daryl Hall performance on Conan last night. It was a re-run.

I don’t have what’s called a “good ear.” In band practices, for instance, I’m often the last to know that someone’s singing off-key. It’s probably because of my limited vocal abilities that I treat vocal pitch like horseshoes and hand grenades.

As soon as this performance got underway, however, I suspected that Hall was singing way off key. He is, right? Please confirm that this is not just a matter of the song sucking.

Bring back Oates—and his ‘stache. And the blond beard’s still not working, Daryl.


  30 Responses to “It’s the Singer AND the Song, Right?”

  1. hrrundivbakshi

    Hmm. I listened out to the 1:30 mark, and — while ol’ Darryl did get off to a rocky start — he’s pretty much on target. He’s pushing *really* hard to hit those notes, though, and that makes the first 20 seconds or so pretty hard to listen to. Dude should have warmed up! My main question, though: where’s the bratwurst?

  2. tonyola

    I agree – Hall is staying pretty much on pitch though he is having to really work for the high notes. I think Oates looks better without the porn-star mustache.

  3. misterioso

    He’s not off key, he’s just going raga.

  4. Interesting. I was sure I had finally recognized a case of really poor pitch throughout. The choice of notes in that song’s melody is puzzling to me. Maybe the melody is inherently “unsingable.” Maybe it’s a problem of Hall “singing through his beard.” (Do we have a Glossary term for that practice? If not we should. The great E. Pluribus Gergely was a pioneer in defining that concept.)

  5. Conan’s voice seems unnaturally high. Is the whole clip sped up?

  6. misterioso

    No, you’re thinking of when Robert Johnson was on Conan.

  7. A standing ovation to the two of you for that routine.

  8. Thanks! (except I was being serious)

  9. misterioso

    Oh, and I suppose that means I’m not?

  10. Happiness Stan

    I just can’t stand Hall and Oates so much that I can’t bring myself to switch Flash back on to watch the clip, sorry.

    I can’t stand them even more than I can’t stand Billy Joel.

    There are not many people in this world that I dislike, but Hall and Oates are about as high as it’s possible to get.

  11. tonyola

    I’m curious – what is it about Hall and Oates that gets to you? I’m not much of a fan of their glib and slick music, but there’s nothing about them that I can call actively offensive.

  12. Yes, do tell. I’m not a huge fan but I’ll throw on some of their 70’s hits every now and then. I get that they’re cheesy but to dislike them more than Billy Joel? I just don’t get that.

  13. Happiness Stan

    I was pretty angry about stuff at that time anyway, but I think it was watching them on the telly doing their smug, self-satisfied, anaemic blue-eyed white boy soul, which in itself was enough to make me want to kill them, just as the likes of me and my mates were acknowledging that the punk revolution had been swallowed up by the man and turned into the Human League with dolly-birds and bloody Culture Club and bloody Wham and bloody Level 42 and all the other bloody elevator music with stupid haircuts and smug grins. And what the hell was the Style Council all about? The Tories had just got in again and the rebellion had been stamped on and we were being served up this crap on TV and the radio as if we were supposed to be grateful for having been saved from ourselves..

    I possibly despise Huey Lewis and the News more, but the only reason bloody Hall and bloody Oates didn’t look as if they were ostentatiously and deliberately dancing on the coffin of the music that changed my life and singing ner-ner-ni-ner ner was because they were so far up the backside of everything we had railed against and too vacuous to have noticed it happening in the first place. No, come to think of it I can almost forgive Huey Lewis, Hall and Oates were far more smug and complacent and narcissistic, and their bloody awful songs were enough to make even Al Green forget his faith and get out a great big machine gun and blast away and then stand over their graves until he was sure that they were dead.

    Having re-read what I’ve just written demonstrates to me that I have a huge chip on my shoulder and an attitude problem to match, but to me they represent everything that was wrong with the early 80s.

  14. Happiness Stan

    There were two of them and they were both as bad as Billy Joel, therefore it was easy to dislike them twice as much.

  15. So it’s a math thing? Okay, I guess I understand that.

  16. But what about “She’s Gone”?

  17. tonyola

    Hall & Oates had been big in America before punk and new-wave hit. cdm mentioned “She’s Gone” and “Rich Girl” and “Sara Smile” were big hits too before 1977. Besides, punk pretty much killed itself, didn’t it? Or at least drove itself underground and off the radar for a long time. It was stylistically too limiting and codified and the early punkers who managed not to burn out and destroy themselves got more ambitious with their music. Isn’t it interesting that none of the actual punk musicians punctured themselves with safety pins? In short, the punk rockers outgrew the bashing and yelling stage much to the dismay of many of their unchanging fans.

  18. Happiness Stan

    As I said, it’s not logical and I cannot argue that you are not right in what you say.

    I see things very differently now to the way I saw them when I was nineteen, I like to think that I have a far more accurate historical perspective now that I’m two and a half times that age. Apart from “She’s Gone”, which was also a hit here in ’75 (which made and makes it quite easy for me to lump them in with everything that was wrong with music before punk happened) they didn’t take off over here until about ’81, so I have a quite different perspective.

    Still can’t stand them, though.

  19. A peek into the soul of Unhappiness Stan… I like it!

  20. ladymisskirroyale

    Phillip Seymour Hoffman does Eddie Money.

  21. Happiness Stan

    And to think that up until that point I was toying with the idea that I might, just possibly, have been being a little harsh, wrong even, and misjudged him.

    Thanks Mr M for posting that, the perfect clip to demonstrate that I was actually completely correct in every particular.

    I was slightly concerned that I might have to come back and admit that the one clip had been located which might have proved my judgement incorrect, but all that needed to strengthen the case against was the bassist Hrrundi introduced us to the other day.

    I admit that I only got to the bit where he simulated someone grabbing his crotch at around 1:03, just as the song is about to start, and could take no more.

    I didn’t realise that he’d written that song, but it does go a long way to explain why I always felt like kicking Paul Young whenever I saw him gurning and pouting and looking like he was about to start playing with himself while miming to it on the telly, while not minding (note use of very faint praise) other stuff he did.

    It’s as if it’s impossible to do anything which has been touched by the hand of Darryl without looking as if one is unable to resist the temptation to whip out one’s privates and say hello to Onan the Barbarian.

    Torture, absolute bloody torture. He’s so far up his own backside that I want to take a firm hold of him and help him the rest of the way.

    Can anyone here honestly watch that up to the bit where he does his smug wimpy fake white boy soul whoop and with hand on heart attempt to deny – even before the music starts – that I am not now entirely vindicated in my earler assessment?

  22. As an American and a Philadelphian, I’ll give Hall and Oates their props for their first run of singles: “She’s Gone,” “Rich Girl,” and 2 or 3 other singles from the pre-pouffy hair days. That was really good blue-eyed soul done with much hometown pride (they’ve got Philadelphia-area roots and a deep appreciation of our city’s soul music scene). Come the MTV years of the early ’80s, they were tough to take, but underneath all the sheen and pastel satin and hair gel were solid hooks. Hall’s delivery kept getting way over the top, though, and his Look and stage presence were really bad. I have no idea if he’s a “good egg” in real life, but he comes off like he thinks he’s the second coming of Bowie when, in fact, he should see himself as a solid pop journeyman, like the guys from Squeeze. I can see how he could really annoy one of us, but Hall AND Oates together once had a fun balance. Nowadays, with Oates stripped of his mustache and Hall wearing that stupid beard, which makes him look like the Cowardly Lion of The Wizard of Oz, is no time to gain an appreciation for their early, underdog years.

  23. What about You Burn Me Up I’m A Cigarette with Robert Fripp

  24. tonyola

    Even in the ’80s, Hall and Oates could still rise above the morass once in a while. I think “Kiss on my List” is one of the finer mainstream singles of the early 1980s.

  25. Happiness Stan

    Okay Mr M, I will concede that if I had come to them from an earlier perspective, and indeed a Philadelphian perspective I might view them differently.

    By the time I got to them I kind of wondered what Oates was supposed to be doing there, he looked like Andrew Ridgeley in Wham!, completely subsumed by his partner’s ego and looking no more than grateful to still be allowed to be there for the ride. Which is not to say that he was not making a contribution, just that I was not able to see what the contribution was that he was making other than having a great big ‘tache and grinning at Daz in a way that looked to cynical young British eyes like massaging Daz’s ego.

  26. ladymisskirroyale

    My world has been shaken. The typically sunny HS has had a bit of a rant. You, one of the most inclusive of the RTH inner circle, goes off on some of the paragons of early 80’s soul/pop. (Who’s next? Terrence Trent D’Arby????) I had always figured that you, HS, were one of those folk who could find something good in something heinous.

    Can you, in that deep heart of yours, find something of merit in this Hall and Oates video? It blew my mind and I’m still hoping we can find some common ground here.

  27. BigSteve

    I never felt that liking punk music meant that I had to start hating pop music. I think H&O’s run of hits in the 80s was really good stuff. I don’t have any of their records, but they always sound good when I hear them. And Hall does seem like a good egg, if you see those concerts he records in his home studio. The one with Nick Lowe was very nice.

  28. Happiness Stan

    I had absolutely no idea that of all the people I could make a negative comment about on here that Hall and Oates would be the ones who folks would apparently universally disagree with me about. If it had occurred to me I would have started a “Please explain” thread.

    I didn’t say that I bought into – and didn’t ever buy into – the “no Elvis Beatles or the Rolling Stones” all-other-music-sucks attitude, and was merely trying to say that, for me, Hall and Oates were the absolute personification and representatives on Earth of all that was completely terrible about post-punk music, but this wouldn’t have been the case if I had ever been able to find any merit in any of their music.

    Even though while punk was happening I had a strong aversion to Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”, I’ve forgiven them for it since, a process which was helped by “Tusk”, an album which seemed to signify that even though they appeared to have locked themselves away to do practically nothing but take industrial quantities of substances for a decade while knocking off the occasional album, and demonstrated that they had somehow managed to notice that things were getting a bit noisier out there. Pink Floyd, Neil Young and some others who had been immediately written off as dinosaurs quickly found their way back into our hearts by simply joining in and rolling the wave in a way that the Eagles, Robert Palmer and Hall and Oates didn’t, which is why they riled me so much AT THE TIME.

    I have the perception that, along with LadyM, I’m probably the most ‘pop’ person to regularly post here – I draw the Judge’s attention to my recent defence of the Eurovision Song Contest, and robust debate in favour of Slade, Glam etc. At the height of punk I bought ABBA’s “Arrival” album, the Shadows’ 20 Golden Greats, Manfred Mann’s Greatest Hits, the fantastic Music For Pleasure Monkees Greatest Hits album and many more besides. There was a huge amount of great pop music in the eighties, I just don’t consider Hall and Oates made any contribution to it.

    Just like some on here take what I consider to be unreasonable exception to The Smiths, Hall and Oates are the ones who press my buttons, and it is interesting to be on the other side of Transatlantic curiosity regarding personal taste.

    The absolutely fundamental issue that I have with them comes down to a very simple thing – I just don’t like ANY of their songs, have heard enough to not want to be introduced to new ones, and like them even less with the mental image I have from their videos of Daz coming on like a not very good pub singer impersonating Robert Plant.

    Mr M is right, it IS the singer AND the song, which is my final word.

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