"you've got the body, now you want my soul"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

being born in the 1980s, there were three succinct pieces of media that i have remained enamored with into adulthood: hall and oates, miami vice, and music videos. going in alphabetical order, i'll begin this retrospective series with a look back on hall and oates.

+ hall and oates "greatest hits" [album]

the 1980s proved to be the backdrop for a pop music revolution and produced some of the finest songs ever recorded. being an integral part of the scene, hall and oates were gods of the early mtv era. their unique blend of rock and roll and rhythm and blues helped to define the music of the 1980s. other than michael jackson, you would be hard pressed to find an act from that period that surpassed them in terms of critical acclaim, number one hits, and overall popularity. although hall and oates first appeared in the 1970s, the bulk of their notoriety originated from their contributions to the following decade. while there are numerous songs in their discography that merit discussion, "i can't go for that", their number one hit from private eyes, seemed the logical choice for me. not only did "i can't go for that" affirm their broad appeal, but it was one of my first musical memories.

the accolades for "i can't go for that" were numerous and somewhat surprising. it was inevitable that hall and oates would top the billboard hot 100 after their previous single "private eyes" achieved that same feat 10 weeks earlier. the surprising part for hall and oates (and pop music in general) was that "i can't go for that" also topped the hot soul singles chart which is now known as the hot r&b/hip-hop songs chart. needless to say, that was an incredibly rare task for white artists to accomplish. to put it into perspective, neither eminem nor vanilla ice (come on "ice ice baby" was huge) have come close to topping the hot r&b/hip-hop songs chart. if that wasn't enough, "i can't go for that" also topped the hot dance club songs chart.

chart success was only part of the "i can't go for that" legend. in further testimony to hall and oates crossover appeal, "i can't go for that" has been covered by r&b artists and sampled on numerous occasions by well-known hip-hop acts. those acts include de la soul, heavy d, 2 live crew, mac dre, mf doom as king geedorah, notorious b.i.g., and gnarls barkley. some weren't obscure songs either, "say no go" from 3 feet high and rising and "crazy" from st. elsewhere both integrated "i can't go for that" in some fashion.

i can remember a few instances where i copied jean claude van damme's epic dance sequence (click here to watch the video) from kickboxer and the intro to "i can't go for that" was the perfect foil for the shoulder shimmy. as a child, i didn't fully appreciate the depth of the music, but i definitely acknowledged the funky rhythms. the drum pattern and sounds were typical of the 1980s, but what set "i can't go for that" apart from its contemporaries were the air-like keyboards, guitars, and intense saxophone solos. daryl hall, who proclaimed himself as the "head soul brother in the u.s.", flexed his vocal muscles like arnold schwarzenegger and lou ferrigno at a family picnic. it's near impossible not to become entranced when he sings:

"i'll do anything that you want me to do. yeah, i'll do almost anything that you want me too. yeah... but i can't go for that. no, no can do."

as an integral piece of my music rotation, hall and oates has endured an early childhood obsession and remained as one of my favorite acts of all time. not only does their music conjure up memories, but it's so well crafted that it's relevant even in comparison to today's technologically advanced creations. if you really want to kick the ballistics a la nino brown, the basic formula of "i can't go for that" was korg keyboard + drums + guitars + saxophone. does that sound somewhat familiar to you? it's inherently the same formula as the neptunes. well, that's a wrap for the first of this three part series. stay tuned for the next chapter!

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