The top 10 Hall & Oates songs sung by John Oates as lead vocalist starts by looking into the duo’s history as a rock band. Born in New York, then raised in North Wales, Pennsylvania, Oates paired up with Daryl Hall after their respective bands met at a band competition held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1967. The event was interrupted when two rival gangs engaged in a violent conflict that prompted everyone at the venue to escape. As a result, Hall’s band, The Temptones, and Oates’ band, The Masters, piled into the same elevator while on their way to safety. In the process, both groups realized they had more in common with each other than performing as rock bands. From there, a new union was formed that was originally called Hall & Oates but it was the preference of both men to be called Daryl Hall & John Oates instead. However you wish to call them, these two men established themselves as all-time fan favorites that produced several hit albums and hit songs throughout the span of their recording careers.
Wrestling Between Worlds
Not only did John Oates perform as the lead guitarist for Hall & Oates, but he also helped write some of the duo’s greatest hits. On occasion, he would also assume the role of lead singer and many of the songs would become some of the duo’s biggest hits. Prior to embarking on a musical career, Oates was into athletics, namely wrestling. When he graduated from high school he was offered wrestling scholarships but he turned those down in favor of attending Philadelphia’s Temple University. Although he did wrestle as a freshman, he dropped the sport as he grew tired of having to meet certain weight goals just to compete. His desire to become a professional musician pounded his desire to become a wrestler into submission. While in college, he was also majoring in journalism but it was a path he already knew at the time wasn’t his true destiny. It was music.
“I Need Your Love” was the first single John Oates recorded, which took place while with his rock group at the time, the Masters. That was in 1966, the same year he graduated from high school and enrolled in the same university where he’d meet Daryl Hall. At this time, Oates was a freshman while Hall was a senior. However, it wouldn’t be until 1970 the two men focused more heavily on a career as Hall & Oates, Two years later, they signed up with Atlantic Records and made their debut with their first studio album, Whole Oates. Although there were two singles released from it, neither failed to make an impression on the official music charts. However,
As Hall & Oates
As Hall & Oates, the duo recorded and released a total of eighteen studio albums, eleven live albums, and twenty-seven compilation albums. There were also sixty-three singles released, as well as thirty-five music videos. The peak of their popularity spanned from 1981 until 1984 as several of their singles not only dominated the music charts but earned silver, gold, and platinum certifications. Their greatest hit of all time was “You Make My Dreams” as it became certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America twice. That came from the 1980 album, Voices. It also became certified platinum with the RIAA, as well as gold with Music Canada. However, the most successful studio album Hall & Oates recorded and released was 1982’s H2O. That one became double platinum with the RIAA, as well as triple platinum with Music Canada. It also became platinum with the Australian Recording Industry Association and the British Phonographic Industry.
Oddly enough, despite the global recognition as Hall & Oates, neither Daryl Hall nor John Oates cared to be called this. Although they were seen as a duo act, both men considered themselves to be individualists. They preferred to be recognized as two separate people instead of clustered into a single identity. Like two separate artists coming together to form duets, like Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, that’s how Daryl Hall and John Oates wanted to be identified as an act. According to the most dedicated fans who respect this, that’s exactly how Daryl Hall and John Oates are regarded. Of all the music material both men produced as a combined act, Oates sang as lead vocalist on over fifty songs the two recorded together.
As John Oates
It’s not uncommon for many top-name recording artists to embark on solo careers just a few short years after starting up as a group. In the case of John Oates, he was in no hurry to do this as he seemed content enough to either perform as the second half behind Hall & Oates or as a contributor for songs performed by other recording artists such as Margo Rey. It wasn’t until 2002 he would record and release his own debut album, Phunk Shui. In 2008, he released his second album, 1000 Miles of Life. In 2011, it was Mississippi Mile, then 2014’s Good Road to Follow, and 2018’s Arkansas. He also has five live albums to his credit, starting with 2004’s Live at the Historic Wheeler Opera House. His most recent release was 2020’s Live in Nashville.
In 2004, John Oates was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Ten years later, he and Daryl Hall were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as Daryl Hall & John Oates. In 2020, there was a rumored attempt for Daryl Hall and John Oates to produce new material for an upcoming album. However, this has since been put on hold indefinitely.
Top 10 John Oates Lead Vocal Hall & Oates Songs
#10 – Camellia
In 1975, “Camellia” was released as a single that featured Daryl Hall and John Oates sharing the role as lead singers. Although it failed to make a chart impression, it did win over fans who recognized the two men as stars in the making. Daryl Hall & John Oates was the name of the album, an identity both men preferred to be referenced instead of Hall & Oates. This was the duo’s fourth studio album release and would be one of eleven that would become certified gold or higher by the Recording Industry Association of America. In the song, “Camellia” was a woman that became a love interest Hall and Oates sang about in what many fans found baffling didn’t become at least an easy listening hit. As a song, “Camellia” was a lighthearted romantic number, enough to prompt a few dancers to get up and hit the floor.
#9 – Soldering
“Soldering” was first recorded and released by the Starlights in 1975. It was covered that same year by Hall & Oates with John Oates as the lead singer. For the Starlights, it was a big hit, thanks to Jamaican lead singer, Stanley Beckford. For Hall & Oates, it failed to make the same big impression among the critics but the fans didn’t seem to mind. Their version was part of the Daryl Hall & John Oates tracklist but was not released as a single. “Soldering” was a song that made reference to a woman’s response when it came to a moment of sexual intimacy. Where Beckford performed as a sultry number, Oates did so with a hint of reggae flair.
#8 – Italian Girls
“Italian Girls” was released as a single in 1983 from the album H20. On the Canadian Singles Chart, it became a number twenty-four hit. This was sung by John Oates as a lead vocalist while performing with Hall & Oates. The ancestry of John Oates includes a mother who was born and raised as an Italian. In the song, Oates is asking where are the “Italian Girls” in a melting pot nation that defined the United States of America. What makes this song so awesome is the value of cultural flavor that shaped the United States of America into a great nation. It also served as a reminder of how easy it is to lose one’s original identity as a person. When society demands ethnicity take a backseat to certain conformities, this is a recipe destined for disaster. The Italian heritage dates as far back as the days of the Roman Empire and beyond. John Oates has embraced this part of himself with open arms, as well as his heritage as an American citizen.
#7 – Alone Too Long
Released as a single in 1975, “Alone Too Long” was a single that had John Oates perform as the lead vocalist. On the US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, it charted at number ninety-eight. Although not a big hit, “Alone Too Long” became a Hall & Oates classic. In 2013, this was the song that was used as the opening theme to the HBO comedy series, Hello Ladies. The show focused on the quest to find love in Los Angeles, California. “Alone Too Long” was the perfect song that dictated its theme. It also became a favorite among fans of the show as they began to buy, download, and stream the song wherever they could find it.
#6 – Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song)
“Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song)” was written by John Oates. The source of the inspiration came from Sara Allen, the girlfriend Daryl Hall had at the time. Both men sang as lead vocalists to a song that was part of the tracklist belonging to Abandoned Luncheonette. Making reference to the lifestyle of a stewardess as she spends so much time on the road, it’s not much different for recording artists. The challenge of keeping a romantic relationship alive often sees a turnaround when too much time is spent apart instead of together. What makes this song an easy-listening favorite is how this can relate to loved ones who are left behind while their significant have jobs that take them away from home for extended periods of time.
#5 – Jingle Bell Rock
The first time “Jingle Bell Rock” was released as a single was in 1957 by Bobby Helms. Since then, it has become a Christmas song classic that’s been covered many times over by artists from every major music genre there is. While Helms holds the mantle as the most popular version of this song, the vocal performance by John Oates from Hall & Oates was no slouch, either. Like Helms, Hall & Oates experienced a global hit that peaked at its highest at number twenty in New Zealand. On the US Billboard Holiday 100, it peaked as high as number six when it was released as a single in 1983. When it charted again in 2011, it was a number twenty-four hit.
#4 – How Does It Feel to Be Back
Released during the summer of 1980, “How Does It Feel to Be Back” was a single performed by John Oates as lead vocalist. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked as high as number thirty, and it was a number forty-eight hit in Australia. This came from the album, Voices, and was the first of four singles that would become a hit. Performed as a man wishing to get back together with his love interest again, Oates sang as a man filled with regret. This was a great tune that demonstrated why Hall & Oates were so popular as rockers who brought forth easy-listening fan favorites year after year.
#3 – Possession Obsession
From the 1984 album, Big Bam Boom, “Possession Obsession” was a hit single performed by John Oates as the lead vocalist for Hall & Oates. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it became a number thirty hit after it was released as a single in 1985. On the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart, it peaked as high as number eight. The Canadian Singles Chart peaked the song as high as number forty-two. This song, as well as the rest of the album, had Hall & Oates experiment with new sounds as instruments such as electric keyboards and synthesizers were increasing in popularity among musicians. The song itself dealt with the possessiveness of people when it came to relationships, as well as the need to obsess over potential rivals. It also pointed out how new trends often steer society down paths that often prove to be self-destructive.
#2 – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
In 1965, Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers brought forth the incredible single, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” and it became a huge hit for this popular duo act. This was a song covered many times over by some of the music industry’s greatest talent, including Daryl Hall and John Oates. Singing the lead was Oates, whose version of this beloved classic peaked as high number twelve on the US Billboard Hot 100 and at number fifteen on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. It peaked as high as number ten on the Canadian Singles Chart and at number fifty-five on the UK Singles Chart. This heartbreak ballad was sung by Oates with just as much passion as Medley. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” became one of the greatest hits Hall & Oates ever produced and has stood the test of time as a classic fan favorite.
#1 – She’s Gone
“She’s Gone” was a song that had Daryl Hall and John Oates share the role of lead vocalist together. This hit single came from the album, Abandoned Luncheonette, and was among the men’s first big hits as recording artists. The first release of this song was a mild hit that only peaked as high as number sixty on the US Billboard Hot 100. When it was released a second time in 1976, it performed much better as the popularity of Hall & Oates rose considerably after realizing their first big hit, “Sara Smile.” In 1976, “She’s Gone” peaked as high as number six on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart, and at number seven on the US Billboard Hot 100. It also became a number-seven hit on the Canadian Singles Chart, and it peaked as high as number forty-seven on the UK Singles Chart. As far as Daryl Hall was concerned, this was the best song he and John Oates ever wrote and performed together. The timing of the song’s composition came when both men were having relationship issues with the ladies they had in their lives at the time. “She’s Gone” became an all-time classic that’s often found on song lists as one of the best ever recorded.
Top 10 Hall & Oates Songs With Lead Vocals By John Oates article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain creative commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at the end of the article. Album Cover Photos are affiliate links and the property of Amazon and are stored on the Amazon server. Any theft of our content will be met with swift legal action against the infringing websites.