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

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Duran Duran vs. Hall & Oates: You Never Leave Junior High School
By Suzi Parker on March 26, 2013

The 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 Niles 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