Five Best Hall & Oates Cover Songs (and a Tribute Album)

Hall & Oates' H20, the album that brought the world "Maneater."
Hall & Oates' H20, the album that brought the world "Maneater."

Pioneers of the Philly sound that incorporated funk, R&B, and soul music (which, for better or worse, eventually birthed smooth jazz and quiet storm) as well as new wave and rock, Hall & Oates were and are songwriting geniuses. Both graduates of Temple University, Daryl Hall and John Oates met while still at school. They had both already performed professionally in bands, but it was when they decided to collaborate that the two were able to conjure real musical magic.

Success wasn't immediate, however, and it wasn't until the pair took over the producing side in addition to writing that they began to see dividends. Eventually the duo scored seven platinum albums, six gold albums, and had over 34 songs chart on the Billboard Hot 100. By 1984, the RIAA declared that they were the most successful duo of all time. It took another twenty years for the pair to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but that's by no means the end of the group.

Having inspired a generation of musicians and fans alike, it's not surprising many artists have attempted that sincerest form of flattery, imitation, with a number of Hall & Oates tunes. We present our five favorite Hall & Oates covers ever (with one very special bonus).

The Family Crest – “Kiss Is on My List”
The original “Kiss Is on My List” is a shiny, corny, and synth-happy classic that summarily exemplifies the technological glossiness of '80s music. In the hands of the Family Crest, an orchestral indie-rock collective, “Kiss Is On My List” is a passionate and tender number elevated by choppy acoustic guitar playing and dramatic violin strings, sailing along on a tropical, bossa nova groove.

Fruit Bats – “One on One”
When it comes to cover songs, the A.V. Club "Undercover" series provides some of the coolest moments in cross-genre lovemaking out there. Each year, a list of popular old-school songs is created and, one by one, crossed off as bands come in and cover them. It's like a road-trip mixtape with all your favorite artists, performed by all your other favorite artists. Veteran indie-folk rock band the Fruit Bats took on the sports-metaphor-obsessed love song “One on One” and crushed it, frontman and lead vocalist Eric D. Johnson impressing everyone with the range of his pipes.

Grace Mitchell – “Maneater”
Featuring the likes of Jose Gonzales, Of Monsters and Men, and Rogue Wave, the soundtrack to the 2013 film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a far better effort than the movie that inspired it. However, one of the true gems from the album was Grace Mitchell's gorgeous and dreamy interpretation of “Maneater.” The 18-year-old newcomer is currently making a name for herself with her Raceday EP and the single “Jitter,” a track Zane Lowe called “the song of the year so far.”

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – “Rich Girl”
Call it a gimmick or a schtick, but San Francisco punks Me First and the Gimme Gimmes have carved out a cozy career as one of the preeminent rock ’n’ roll cover bands of the past 20 years. They've passed dozens of classic pop songs, from Billy Joel to Elton John, through their noisy, sped-up filter. “Rich Girl,” a song about a materialistic socialite who can't see past the shiny toys and “the old man's money,” is prime fodder for a fuzzed-out punk band that loves to play it fast and loud.

Rumer – “Sara Smile”
For the followup to her critically acclaimed debut record, Pakistani-born, British singer/songwriter Rumer sought the comfort of 1970s a.m. pop radio. Sounding like a modern-day Karen Carpenter fronting a quiet storm house band, Rumer released this stunning cover of “Sara Smile” as a single in 2012. It's a jazzy, elegant number she made all her own that undoubtedly made the original authors smile at the mere sound of it.

Bonus:

The Bird and the Bee – Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates

Like so many others, L.A. indie-pop duo the Bird and the Bee owe quite a bit of their style to Mr. Hall and Mr. Oates, and don't they know it. Far from shying away from their idols, vocalist Inara George ("the Bird") and keyboardist and producer Greg Kurstin embrace their pop music roots on their third studio album, Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates. These nine classic tracks are slick, sultry, and by far the best versions of these songs outside of the originals.

Hall & Oates
8 p.m. Saturday, November 28, at Hard Rock Live, 5747 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Tickets cost $50 to $80 plus fees. Call 954-797-5531, or visit ticketmaster.com.

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