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avatar for Chris Molanphy

Chris Molanphy

Chris Molanphy is a pop-chart analyst and critic who writes about the intersection of culture and commerce in popular music. His work has appeared in Slate, Pitchfork, NPR Music's The Record, Billboard, Rolling Stone, and CMJ. Chris is also a frequent guest on National Public Radio (Soundcheck, All Things Considered, Planet Money, On the Media) and on Slate’s podcasts The Gist and the Culture Gabfest. He created the chart-analysis column “100 & Single,” published at Idolator and The Village Voice.

“Hall & Oates Find Their Voices”
In 2014, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson took to the podium to induct Daryl Hall and John Oates, saying, “They combined rock, and folk, and soul, and pop into something that was new, because it had many smart pieces of what was old.” Indeed, Hall and Oates—the most successful duo of the Rock Era—were by their very nature synthesizers, even code-shifters, who deliberately and sometimes unwittingly found a new polyglot voice in pop. Building on their background in the Philadelphia music scene and Daryl Hall’s powerful, genre-flexible voice (Robert Fripp called Hall the best all-around singer he’d ever met), Hall and Oates both shaped and were shaped by their time in the ’70s and ’80s—they effectively bridged the rock and soul of the former decade and the pop and (eventually) hip-hop of the latter. This three-paper EMP panel considers Hall and Oates’s career across all its phases, not just their well-known’80s Imperial phase but also the odd early and late byways of their career. All of these periods elucidate how the duo found their place in a pop landscape that was at times inhospitable to, and other times utterly defined by them.


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