Even though it opens with the same canned 80’s sound that almost every balled opened with in the mid-80’s, “One on One” rises above that decade’s average love song with a fun basketball/sex metaphor and an expert Daryl Hall vocal. I just downloaded this song the other day as I started writing about Hall & Oates because I’d completely forgotten about it until I saw the title, then it came rushing back to me. I hadn’t remembered the dippy electric drum and keyboard start – all that was in my head was Hall’s chorus.
So many songs are dated by their production technique. It makes you wonder about whether, at the time, artists think “this will get me a hit, but the song will sound old in five years” or if they think “wow, this new sound is great and is going to last forever.” Hard to imagine that the tinky tink sound of that drum machine came across as immortal to seasoned artists like Hall & Oates, but stranger things have happened, I suppose.
On the other hand, when Daryl Hall plays this song with Cee Lo Green on Live From Daryl’s House, with a full live band and no drum machines, it is a thing of beauty. I propose that’s the way it always should have sounded.