Monday, July 11, 2022

Musical Monday - Out of Touch by Hall and Oates

#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: December 8, 1984 through December 15, 1984.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Built out a synthesizer riff backed by a drum machine, Out of Touch was Hall and Oates' most peppy and poppy song. It was also their last number one hit. They did have some lesser success over the next few years, but this song more or less marks the last moment Darryl Hall and John Oates were at the forefront of popular music. Alternatively, and more darkly, one could say that this was the beginning of the end of the duo's reign as one of the top musical groups in the world.

It is kind of easy to see why this was the start of the slow fade for the band. It is overtly pop in a way that most of their previous hits had not been, entirely lacking in the jazzy, urbane, and urban tone that Hall and Oates had made their signature sound. In a way, this song seems to have marked the transition of the duo from trend-setters following their own beat to trend-chasers trying to match a style pioneered by others. This song is kind of fun, but it lacks the spark that earlier songs by the band had had. This was, for want of a better word, bland.

It didn't really help that the lyrics are more or less nonsense. Granted, Hall and Oates was never a band that had deep or particularly meaningful lyrics: Their best songs were love songs or simple and fairly straightforward stories. This song, however, is lyrically a complete mess. It might be about a breakup resulting from a couple growing apart, but if it is, that is kind of obscure. It might just be someone insulting their partner over and over again. It doesn't really matter, because the end result is mostly gibberish - words strung together to match a meter and rhyme but with no real discernible meaning behind them.

It is possible that a young J.J. Abrams listened to the song and the lesson that he took was that if lyrics to a song could be a series of mostly unrelated words, a movie could be a sequence of mostly unrelated scenes that don't follow from one to another.

Previous Musical Monday: The Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Subsequent Musical Monday: The Wild Boys by Duran Duran

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham!
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Like a Virgin by Madonna

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

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