Hall & Oates were the singles act of the early ’80s. For a solid four year stretch-from 1981’s “Kiss On My List” through 1985’s “Method Of Modern Love”, they were a constant presence in the top 10. And they were dropping bangers, too. I’m mentally cataloguing every one of their top 40 records from that era, and I think the only song that would rate as less than 4 stars is that cover of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”, which I used to find awful and I’ve warmed to-slightly- in my older age.
Following “Method”‘s top 10 success, Daryl & John missed the top 10 with the last two singles from 1984’s Big Bam Boom record, and then they essentially went on hiatus. They performed at 1985’s Live Aid concert along with their childhood heroes David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks of The Temptations (and recreated that performance for a live EP that fall). Then Daryl made a solo album (his second) and John wrote and produced records for the likes of Icehouse (including the five-star jam “Electric Blue”.
When the awesome twosome returned in the spring of 1988, it’d been three years since they were the reigning chart giants, and a lot had changed in pop music. Daryl & John had also undergone a label change, moving from their longtime label home of RCA to Clive Davis’s Arista Records. The first fruit of that union came in the form of “Everything Your Heart Desires”, which is a low-key gem in their catalog.
“Everything Your Heart Desires” traverses similar lyrical territory to my last entry on this list, Vertical Horizon’s “Everything You Want”. Daryl, though, is more direct from the start. “Can’t you see the heartbeat that you know so well is better than some strange one you’re looking for?” he sings, playing the consoling friend. Then he adds “you never know, that strange one just might be me.” The caring confidante is also on some Low Key Mister Steal Yo’ Girl-type stuff.
From a musical perspective, “Everything Your Heart Desires” has clear similarities to The Human League’s Jam & Lewis-produced “Human”, even down to using some of the same synth signatures that Jimmy & Terry use regularly. This, no doubt, helped the song’s chart fortunes (especially on the R&B side, where it stopped just short of the top ten). However, no one in the Human League can sing like Daryl Hall (very few humans alive can sing like Daryl Hall, so that’s a bit unfair). He coaxes every bit of emotion out of a fairly wordy lyric-cooing, cajoling and pleading like only he can. So, while “Everything Your Heart Desires” may not be mentioned in the same breath as “Maneater” or “I Can’t Go For That”, it’s damn near as good.
Hall & Oates never had another top ten hit after “Everything Your Heart Desires” (although they continue to make records to the present day, and they’re usually pretty decent). Gotta say, though. They exited their imperial period with a bang.
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