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Hall & Oates – She’s Gone

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Given that they only ever had moderate success in the UK, it may surprise you to learn that blue-eyed soul outfit Hall & Oates are the biggest selling duo of all time. Apologies Simon & Garfunkel, Eurythmics, Charles & Eddie, Chaka Demus & Pliers, The Outhere Brothers, LMFAO, Buffalo G et al, but it’s true. In America alone, Daryl and John have had seven platinum and six gold albums.

On this side of the pond, She’s Gone was Hall & Oates’ first excursion into the Top 75, and their only visit of the 1970s. This is despite the fact the twosome released eight studio albums during the decade. Anyone who’s heard Hall & Oates before will be familiar with the hallmarks(!) of She’s Gone – the verses are subtle and restrained, yet full of longing that reveals itself more and more with each listen. The bridge features Hall’s vocals breaking free of the taciturn performance that preceded it to provide the perfect lead to the chorus. And that chorus. Lyrically it’s deceptively simple (“She’s gone / She’s gone / Oh I / Oh I / I better learn how to face / She’s gone”) yet it’s such a strong vocal performance that it transcends the basicness of the sentiment, even if it is a feeling we can all relate to.

 
The history of pop music is written by the victors and we’re led to believe that the world was united in fervour for only one type of music at any one time. She’s Gone came out in 1976, the year before punk broke, which surely means all recorded music at the time was terrible, right? Admittedly, the best-selling single of the year was Save Your Kisses For Me, but the inclusion of some disco classics near the top of the charts (You Should Be Dancing, Play That Funky Music, You To Me Are Everything) show that it was hardly some musical nadir.

Hall & Oates have always resolutely stuck to their guns. Their sound arrived, inspired by classic Motown, in the mid-‘70s, and they’re still extracting from that same goldmine four decades later. Trends come and go, but Hall & Oates’ reverence for and commitment to classic songwriting remain. In truth, there are plenty of their tracks which are appropriate for a nomination to the Into The Popvoid hall of fame (Sara Smile, Rich Girl, You Make My Dreams) but as the first time they made waves over here, She’s Gone seems appropriate, even if it did only make a ripple.

Another thing that makes She’s Gone a worthy nominee is its unlikely second lease of life. It’s gained traction through covers by Tavares and The Bird & The Bee, but that’s not where the oddities end. In 1998, soap actor Matthew Marsden, a national heartthrob thanks to his portrayal as a mechanic (and homewrecker) in Coronation Street, signed a six-figure deal with Columbia. After his debut single stalled outside the top 10, his label decided She’s Gone would be a good choice as a follow-up. The soul influence in Hall & Oates’ tracks means backing vocals are often crucial, so Columbia looked over their roster and found an up-and-coming R&B group who could provide a helping hand to their more famous label-mate. Actually, you might have heard of this group – Destiny’s Child, they were called. Presumably Matthew and Beyoncé still catch up on WhatsApp from time to time.

Entered chart: 16/10/1976

Chart peak: 42

Weeks on chart: 4

Who could sing this today and have a hit? Sam Smith could certainly make this a big hit. It’d sound bloody awful if he did it, mind.

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