Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Kiss on My List" (1981)

76. Daryl Hall & John Oates, "Kiss on My List" (Feb. 14, 1981, #1, 3 wks.)

Hall & Oates had a few hits in the '70s—the sublime "She's Gone," the disquieting "Sara Smile," the execrable "Rich Girl"—before finding their '80s rut with this, a rut they chose to call a groove and go with. Fair enough, I say. It spawned a good handful or more of soundalike hits that all broke the top 10. I'm not necessarily going to begrudge anyone's success on such a basis, though I must admit to getting a little tired of the formula by the time of, say, 1983's "Maneater." Still, this is where it started, and if the song has various barely defensible attractions for me, not least that it acquired an "our song" status in a relationship I recall now with great affection, it also brings other elements I think are harder to deny. It's deceptively alluring, easing into itself with a simple drumbeat and crisp piano chords, before Daryl Hall starts in with his uncanny blue-eyed soul business (I have never figured out exactly what John Oates is supposed to be bringing to the party, but it took me awhile to understand Art Garfunkel's contributions too, so I may yet see the light one day). As the chorus approaches it adds various levels of complexity, and by a little more than a minute in it's more or less fully functioning: its themes, both musical and lyrical, all laid out and on to the elaborations. Yes, you may say that particularly the lyrical are trite, and that may well be so. But if you had known someone whose kiss at that time was on your list of the best things in life, you might feel a little differently about it—a bit more like me, perhaps, who can still find pleasures here to positively wallow in. It's what I'm doing at this very moment. 'Scuse me, need to hear it once more.

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