Duran Duran vs. Hall & Oates: You Never Leave Junior High School

DD_SB_2320_Def_smallThe other day I got in a fight with a hipster.

Okay, not an actual fight, but an intensely heated argument about Hall & Oates versus Duran Duran. If someone had told me in 1983 that I would have to defend my all-time favorite band against Hall & Oates, I would have laughed all the way to the record store.

Not the case in 2013.

The 26-year-old hipster showed up the local brew pub that I have been patronizing since Nirvana was on the charts. How the conversation began is now lost in a glass of beer – consider it Generation X amnesia – but it quickly evolved into the music relevancy of Hall & Oates versus Duran Duran.

Of course, as a Duranie of 30 years, this was a topic I could debate all night, every night. But it seemed almost asinine, and unfair, to compare British new wave romantics to Philadelphia soulful pop. Apples to oranges, Boy George to Jon Bon Jovi. But the hipster insisted and I took the bait.

In no uncertain terms, he told me “Kiss On My List” and “Sarah Smile” by Hall & Oates were definitely more relevant than the only song he knew by Duran Duran  — “The Reflex.” Any Duranie worth half her eyeliner knows that “The Reflex,” even if it was produced by Nile Rodgers and went to number one on the U.S. charts, is far from the best Duran Duran single.

What about “Rio,” “Hungry Like The Wolf” and “Girls on Film”? He looked at me with an indecipherably blank expression. But he didn’t back down. Hall & Oates, I should realize, was more relevant to his generation because the duo had been sampled by many hip hop artists.

“I still have a 45 of “Private Eyes” that I’ll sell you for $500,” I joked.

He scoffed at me. He didn’t want vinyl, he had iTunes after all.

Striking a final blow, he said that Duran Duran was simply a boy band, not really musicians. At that point, I thought my hair was going to catch on fire from anger. He was so discourteous about my love for my teen idols that I almost wanted to punch him. It reminded me of eighth grade, and in a flash, it was 1983 all over again.

I was instantly transported back to a time when I was the new wave teenage girl with the orange hair and Duran Duran buttons, sitting at a picnic table very similar to this one, trying to defend my love for Simon, John, Nick, Roger and Andy to a bunch of preppy boys wearing Polos and Top-siders.

“Duran Duran is so gay,” boys said in eighth grade. “They can’t even sing or play an instrument.”

Of course, I’m an adult now, but the inner teenager in me still burns with a fighting passion. Naturally, because of this, when he made a bet with me, I accepted. Which band could add more Twitter followers in 30 days?

Duran Duran currently has more than 90,000 followers and Hall & Oates has just over 7,000. If I win, he has to have his car wrapped in the “Rio” album cover. (Like he would ever do that?) If I lose, I have to slap a “I Heart Hall & Oates” bumper sticker on my car. I won’t die of embarrassment if it comes to that.

After all, I survived junior high school, and you never really leave eighth grade, do you?

The Broad Side’s newest contributor Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt” and “1000 Best Bartender’s Recipes.” She writes frequently for Reuters, TakePart, and numerous other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker.

Image via Duran Duran PR

  • There is no way, in any lifetime -this one or the ones preceding it or after it that Hall and Oates could ever even remotely be in the same caliber or league as Duran Duran.

    Duran Duran are iconic, legendary MUSICIANS who can in no way be called a “boy band”. Boy Bands sing and dance while others play the instruments for them. I’m certain when I said that you would NOT want to see Nick Rhodes dance – that he would readily agree with me, that much is 100% certain. May we never have to relive the ‘circle dance’ ever again. Amen.

    I am not saying Hall and Oates don’t have hits in their own right, or that they’re untalented. I just personally feel that it’s an unfair advantage to Duran when pitting them against each other. There just simply is no comparison, Duran Duran have that “it” factor, Hall and Oates are simply mediocre by comparison. After all 90000+ followers on Twitter can’t be wrong.

    • Hold on there, Hall and Oates cannot be called Mediocre by any standards. They can still sell out fairly large venues when they hit the road. They have also written a vast number of amazing songs, and in the 70s and 80s were huge. They are, I believe, the greatest selling duo of all time, and they are still around making albums, both solo and together. Daryl has a great show now, called “Live from Daryl’s House”, during which he invites new musicians to jam with him and enjoy great food and conversation. To here Daryl sing today, he still has it, and not many of these vintage artists still do! The bottom line, though, is that you cannot compare Duran and H&O, they are so different. Simon LB is an incredibly gifted writer, and anyone who has not listened to all of the songs on albums like “Big Thing” and “Red Carpet Massacre” is missing out!

    • Private Eyes was a favorite of mine. Hall & Oats was cool no doubt. Of course this was before I walked into the record store and saw D² (self titled cassette tape) and decided to buy it (along with Billy Idol’s self titled album). I went British Invasion of New Wave, and never really looked back… Well I did some heroin(metaphorically) with likes of Mötley Crüe, and Quiet Riot as I remember.

      Apples to Oranges is for certain. One thing I notice about X Gens is that they (I/We), don’t tend to slam too many different genres/types/bands of music really. I think that is because we grew up with such a diversity in music during the 80’s. Although I say that now, I think we all sort of shunned Disco (even tho New Romantic and lots of 80’s have a little funky town sound in it), but I can say for certain that when I was 26, I didn’t slam music from the 60’s.

      OAN, Nick cannot dance (I suspect `circle dance’ refers to New Moon on Monday video!?) is very true. Although I have seen him actually “Bust a Move” pretty well in Second Life.


      ReNoirIN (an over use of parentheses person)

  • Luke

    If you didn’t throw “Notorious” in his face when he mentioned hip-hop, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  • Renay

    I’m with you. Duran Duran beats Hall & Oates any day! Geesh, what hell was he raised in? (Just a little joke-no need for anyone to get offensive).

  • Marion

    ‘Nile’ Rodgers, dear… 🙂

  • Well said. DD blended (and continues to blend) new wave, glam and punk more successfully than any other band, with the exception of perhaps Blondie. And yes, they played their own damn instruments.

    Fighting words, indeed–and the only band I’m usually fired-up enough to fight about is Iron Maiden.

  • Rodrigo

    “Hall & Oates who?” LOL

    • Patrick

      Oh, you know – those guys that are the #1 selling duo of all time. Those guys that have had THIRTY singles that hit the top forty. Those guys that are being inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame this year.

      Duran Duran are a great group, but your ignorance of limited music knowledge is really showing when you say “Hall and Oates who?”

  • Yvette Morgan

    I as well had to defend DD in the 80’s and still do to this day! I’m a huge fan of both DD and H&O but there is no comparison! Two great bands with two very different and distinctive sounds. Also, I was writing what my married name would be if had married Simon….never did that with Hall & Oates! LMAO!

  • bigjonlam

    Isn’t it possible to love them both equally? Not sure whose side I’d take in that fight.

  • Lara

    The only reason why that “id-iot” knew anything about Hall & Oates was because as he put it “they have been sampled” — by hip-hopers . . . and that should have indicated to you loud and clear that it was FUTILE to argue with someone whose taste in “music” is simply HORRENDOUS! because who could call hip-hop or today’s rap or any kind of today’s pop “music”??? Come on, today’s generation could not understand real music as we know it unless they got a “real music chip” implanted in their brains. Duran Duran is tops and Hall & Oates are great too. Neither one DESERVES to be sampled by talent-less pseudo “artists”!

  • sue

    It’s like comaring ketchup to salsa. Love them both one is a little sweet, but the other is HOT.

  • Krssy

    Seriously–while I enjoy H&O more than I’d care to admit…Duran wins hands down! Who else could hang with Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel & the Furious 5? Notorious B.I.G. sampled them! However, the hipster was probably too young to know who Biggie was and certainly knows nothing of Grandmaster Flash and needs a proper schooling.

    On the other hand, wrapping his car in the Rio cover–well, I think he’ll be surprised at all the females that will follow him around…he may want to lose 🙂

  • Geraurdi

    Having grown up with both (either side of my early teens) I can honestly say that both are awesome in their own way. The sweet soul of the 70’s H&O (sorry, the 80’s weren’t that good to them) and the kick @ss new wave that DD brought to the table both transport me back in time and put one h3ll of a smile on my face. For a lousy hipster to say that either is more relevant because of the reasons (or lack thereof) mentioned above just shows how pathetic and truly out of touch he really is with all music save his own – Hip Hop.

    As for DD, what about Planet Earth? One of my faves.

  • Peter

    Hall & Oates just added a new follower…. thanks.

    • Scrapbetty


    • Patrick

      Really? We’re gauging a bands greatness by the number of Twitter followers they have?

      Just an FYI – The TV show Duck Dynasty has 1.5 MILLION followers. No accounting for taste.

  • Jennifer

    Loved the article, Suzi. I do like Hall and Oates, but Duran Duran is my favorite band. It makes me sad that this kid does not understand Duran Duran’s musical accomplishments. Well, maybe now he will…

  • Andrew

    I love both but that really is silly. Oates and Hall are a greatest hits band. Duran Duran had album after glorious album. You really should have made him a mix tape (or Youtube playlist…)

  • Krista

    This is my recurring nightmare. I’m trapped with someone who insists Blue-eyed Soul is a thing of wonder. While discounting the obvious superiority of the New Romantics by referring to them as “Doo Doo.” I’ve had it since the release of Private Eyes. Only it’s not a nightmare, it’s my life. My sister has a devotion to Hall and Oates that is exceeded only by my knowledge that Duran Duran is aging like a single malt. We both see our personal favorites every opportunity that comes around. (She’s older, so she is ahead in that arena.) It takes very little to pick up where our sparring left off. I posted a link to this blog on her Facebook page. I await her response, smile on face and eyebrow raised for battle.

  • Matthew Palumbo

    Hall and Oates I will say are not only a greatest hits band as they have been sampled by numerous top artists if you go to wikipedia everyone will be surprised how many times they have been sampled, so much they are probably getting royalties just from that alone. Also, Hall and Oates had 6 consecutive platinum albums throughout the 80’s not including more than 5 number 1 hits and multiple other hit songs. Also, Hall and Oates have passed the test of time. they are still around today, they still tour and their last number 1 song was 10 years ago I believe Duran Durans last number one was in the last century? Lastly, Hall and Oates have been severely underrated considering they have been the best selling duo and were nominated in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

    • Dude! @Matthew – Comparing Hall & Oates to Duran Duran is like comparing Weird Al to Donna Summer. It just ain’t right!


    • Tanis, I know I can always count on you for a little rabble-rousing! 😉

  • Patricia

    LOL…not really. I am sorry there is no comparison . . .Duran Duran Hands down, dont even know how this could even be an argument? I am sure I liked a song or two of H&O. . .can’t imagine that now, but no way can they compare to DD. When I think 80’s music, DD is what I would consider quintessential, the first band I think of. If you asked to name one band that most represented that era, it would be DD. And no, DD was NOT my all time favorite band in the 80’s. I did like them a lot then, but I have come to appreciate DD more now and enjoy their new music as much as the old stuff.

  • Matt

    Duran Duran by a mile!

  • Lynette

    Being a fan of both I think it is a matter of taste. Me and my old beatnic persona/mod/early stage emo teenage-hood loved Duran Duran by far…
    still do, just saw them 2 years ago (they were awesome live BTW).

    Hall and Oates was much more “Poppy” and played on more stations.

    That is like comparing Ozzy Osborne to Tiffany (well.. almost) …. WAYYYY different genres.

  • Mantequilla

    Since one of the first records I ever purchased with my own money was Hall & Oates “Rock ‘N Soul Part I”, I’m admittedly biased here, but let me take this opportunity to assert that H&O have been criminally underrated as musicians by the music press because a$$hole writers like Rob Sheffield concentrate only on their slick 80’s material. If you’ve never listened to “War Babies”, their self-titled album (aka “The SIlver Album”), or “Along The Red Ledge” you are missing out big time.

  • Luigi from Little Italy

    Lets see if I get this right, H/O played on stage with Mick Jagger at Live Aid. They played with the Temptations at the Apollo theatre and recorded an album of the event. They also played on stage and jammed with the Grateful Dead at the save the rain forest concert at Madison Square Garden. What legends have Duran Duran played with on stage to show their musicianship and diverse musical talent ?

    Want more ? H/O have more than TWICE the number of top 40 hits than Duran Duran including 6 pop #1’s to Duran Durans 2

    Daryl & John are in the songwriters hall of fame. I am sorry, did DD even write music ?

    Daryl played on a top 20 hit in 1969 (Keem-O-Sabe by the Electric Indian) before he was in H/O which means he has had a charted hit in the 60’s, 70’s 80’s 90’s 00’s and 10’s as he had 2 top 20 solo hits last year. How many decades have DD had hits in ?

    Why are we even having this discussion? DD shouldnt even be named in the same sentence as H/O.

    • Martin

      Duran Duran played with:
      -Lou Reed (Live) (Also said DD’s cover Perfect day was the best cover anyone ever
      did of 1 of his song
      -Sting (Studio)
      -David Gilmour (Studio)
      -Mark Ronson (Live & studio)
      -Herbie Hancock (Studio)
      -Anna Matronik (Scisor sisters) Live & studio)
      -Smashing pumpkins (Live)
      How many more do you need?

  • Ray

    Hall and Oates got their first #1 single with 1974’s “She’s Gone” and continued writing hits up to their 2006 Christmas Album. Combined they had over 30 US charted singles and 6 #1 songs.
    I like Duran Duran, they debuted in 1981 and had 19 charted US singles and 2 #1 hits.

    I like both bands, but Hall and Oates wins when you compare the charts.

  • Tim

    Wow. I liked both Duran Duran and Hall & Oates when I was in high school, and I was called a “fag” routinely because of it. I think they were both great, but I will say that “Rio” is still on my playlist whereas “Big Bam Boom” is not.

  • Okay, now listen. This is like comparing the Harlem Globetrotters to the New York Mets. It can’t be done. However, if forced to choose, as much as it pains me to side with the hipster, I’m afraid I would choose Hall and Oates. I mean, have any of you seen “Live from Daryl’s House???”

  • Tracy

    Ridiculous argument, with a ridiculous child, probably with his mind too full of bacon, mustaches and zombies to think straight, or maybe it was the PBR.

    Duran Duran MADE MTV… they freaking CREATED the glamorous video shoot with the hot chicks, nice cars and scenic locales. They INVENTED the proper music video, not just reimagining the band standing on some stage playing air-guitar and gloating over their excess. Sure, they were (and still are) pretty, but who in their right minds ever wanted to freaking LOOK at Hall and Oats?!? Ugh NO THANKS!!!

    But like everyone said, apples and oranges. British New Wave vs American New Soul. Together through Duran Duran and a steady stream of Smash Hits from the import record/comic book store, I was introduced to UK acts you never heard on main stream US radio: Depeche Mode and The Smiths and the Beautiful South and Siouxsie Sioux, hell even U2 before the Joshua Tree album had kids carving “U2 Rules” into their desks. Perhaps said hipster boy’s point was, to quote a Violent Femmes line that makes me giggle “Don’t you like American music, bayyyyy-beeeeee?!?!”

  • Robert

    Sorry but Duran wins! they are simply way too Iconic in every way to be even compared with H&O.

  • lori

    Comparing Duran to Hall & Oats. makes me very uncomfortable. They aren’t even in the same genre of music. The only thing they have in common is that they are both considered ’80’s’ bands. DD is far superior. That is all.

  • Forever For Hall & Oates

    What can I say? There is no comparison…Duran Duran has never and will never be half the band that Hall & Oates was and continues to be. They have stood the test of time, continue to tour every year, and both are involved in solo projects with other artists, to record and release new material consistently…what has Duran Duran (solo or otherwise) done lately? Besides…really…WHO is hotter than Daryl Hall right here and now? Nobody!!!
    I remain….Forever For Hall & Oates 🙂

    • VertigoCin

      Well Forever Hall & Oates, I grew up in the same small town as John Oates & went to the same high school (saw his wrestling trophy in the case!) & I would STILL have to choose Duran over H&O any day. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE H&O, 1 of the 1st albums I bought was H2O, but Duran is still one the best bands & VERY relevant. What have they done lately? Oh released an album that went to #1 in every country on iTunes in 2011, followed by a HUGE world tour once again (you will never truly appreciate Duran until you see them live where yes – GASP! – they play their instruments!) Duran has still been releasing albums every 3-4 years (Duran time) & follow them with kick ass tours. I have loved both groups for over 30 years & both still rock & fill my iPod. And while Daryl Hall may be hot, check out Mr. John Taylor’s recent New York bestseller, Into the Pleasure Groove, his memoir. Or Nick Rhodes’ recent art show Bei Incubi of HIS photos. Simon LeBon is a fantastic lyricist & Roger Taylor is a DJ when he’s not banging his drums. Even former guitarist Andy Taylor is a well known music producer. Duran always have & always will earn MY #1 spot.

  • tony

    stupid comparison, totally different genres.

  • SidTripp

    Ok, Hall & Oates was a very popular pop music duo that did have a long string of hits BUT unless you lived through the 80s, you don’t realize how Duran Druan changed music. They brought a whole new genre and style to a new level and changed the music industry.

  • kooosh

    Nice article and discussion. Problem is that Hall & Oates and Duran Duran don’t occupy the same musical space AT ALL.

  • Patrick

    Sorry for my late remarks on a thread that is almost a year old, but I stumbled on it while searching for something else.

    I consider myself a fan of both bands, but to read remarks from DD fans here dismissing Hall and Oates as “inferior” to DD is rather nauseating.

    As others have said, comparing the two bands (of different genres) is the first flaw.

    With that said, if a bands greatness is measured by the number of screaming girls at live concerts, DD wins hands down. I saw the “Big Thing” tour in the late 80’s, and the show would have been great were it not for girls screaming “John is so hot!!! Marry me John!!!” remarks every 10 seconds through the entire show.

    Hall and Oates shows on the other hand are sit down performances. Concerts that people attend to LISTEN to great MUSIC by great musicians, not so that they can wet their panties lusting over the band members.

    If you’re comparing them based on longevity, body of work, number of albums, number of charting singles, crossover into other genres (rock, pop, soul, new wave, electronica, country, folk, jazz even heavy metal), then Hall and Oates are by far more accomplished. Any musician or music critic familiar with both groups discographies (not just the hit singles) would agree that Hall and Oates are far more musically diverse, and dare I say it, more talented. And I’m sorry – Daryl Hall is 10x the singer Simon Lebon will ever be.

    Again, I love both groups, but Duran Duran have never ventured far outside of their 80’s new wave pop comfort zone. Daryl and John have crisscrossed the musical roadmap and continue to break new ground.

    Just as Duran Duran are more than their top 10 hits, so are Hall and Oates. They are far more than just “Private Eyes” and “Maneater.” Have a listen to their boxed set “Do What You Want, Be What You Are” before dismissing them. I think you’ll be surprised at how underrated they really are.

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