'H20'

August 14, 2018

Title: “H20”

Artist: Daryl Hall & John Oates

Release date: 1982

Favorite track: “Maneater”

 

As I mentioned in a previous column, Daryl Hall & John Oates saved me from my first job.

Let me explain.

I worked at Party City starting at 16 — inflating balloons, stocking shelves with party supplies, cleaning bathrooms and shepherding carts in a dimly lit parking lot. Fun times.

The music played in the store was mostly awful. It was a lot of teenagers singing Katy Perry. Yes, the real Katy Perry wouldn’t even stand up.

But, on occasion, it played some Daryl Hall & John Oates. (I’ve read multiple articles online stating the duo prefers its full name, rather than simply “Hall & Oates.”)

As a teenager, I remember thinking, “Oh, this isn’t so bad.” Before long, I could recite most of the words to all of their hits. I wanted to hear more, especially if it meant avoiding Katy Perry singalikes.

“H20” features several hits — “Maneater,” “Family Man” and “One on One.” All the songs are really '80s and really fun.

MUSIC

Let me start with the title.

If you haven’t already put the puzzle pieces together, H20 is the chemical formula for water, but there’s more to it than that. The letter “H” and letter “O” stand for Hall and Oates.

The songs feature synthesizers for days, and I dig it.

The opening track, “Maneater,” is the duo’s greatest hit. It’s upbeat, but the rhythm and lyrics have an edge.

 

I wouldn’t if I were you

I know what she can do

She’s deadly man, she could really rip your world apart

Mind over matter

Ooh, the beauty is there but a beast is in the heart

— “Maneater”

 

I heard this song at a young age and, of course, thought it was about a woman. To be more specific, I assumed it was about me. But, after some online researching, I discovered the lyrics refer to the cold, money-hungry nature of New York City in the '80s. Illusion shattered.

In the following song, “Crime Pays,” I can’t help but hear traces of Talking Heads’ “Making Flippy Floppy,” which actually was released a year later. It’s interesting, however, to hear similarities of music made in the same time period.

“Art of Heartbreak” has a classic rock 'n' roll edge to it, not as apparent in the other pop-rock tracks.

“One on One” is a favorite of mine because I worship Daryl Hall’s falsetto. That angelic voice brings to mind “She’s Gone” from Daryl Hall & John Oates’ 1973 album, “Abandoned Luncheonette.”

Because of the mixed sports and romance metaphors in “One on One,” it was featured in sports-themed commercials.

 

I’m tired of playing on the team

It seems I don’t get time out anymore

What a change if we set the pace face to face

No one even trying to score

— “One on One”

 

“Family Man” is a cover version of Mike Oldfield and Maggie Reilly’s hit song of the same name. They sound extremely similar, except with female vocals.

“Guessing Games” sounds like it should be intro music for a hit sitcom or game show. Other than this track, I'm not a huge fan of the non-singles on this record.

DESIGN

This sweaty album cover goes perfectly with the heat this album brings.

The back cover’s image of Daryl Hall and John Oates head to head continues the theme of intensity.

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