Charlie's 80s Blog

This Day In 80s Music, December 18th

On this day in 1982: Hall & Oates started a four week run at #1 on the U.S. singles chart with ‘Maneater’, the duo’s fifth of six U.S. #1 hits. It remained in the top spot for four weeks, more than any of the duo’s five other #1 hits, including “Kiss On My List”, which remained in the top spot for three weeks.

In an interview with ‘American Songwriter’, Daryl Hall recalled;

John had written a prototype of “Maneater”; he was banging it around with Edgar Winter. It was like a reggae song. I said, “Well, the chords are interesting, but I think we should change the groove.” I changed it to that Motown kind of groove. So we did that, and I played it for Sara Allen and sang it for her…[Sings] “Oh here she comes / Watch out boy she’ll chew you up / Oh here she comes / She’s a maneater… and a…” I forget what the last line was. She said, “drop that shit at the end and go, ‘She’s a maneater,’ and stop! And I said, ‘No, you’re crazy, that’s messed up.’” Then I thought about it, and I realized she was right. And it made all the difference in the song.

Hall also opined, “We try and take chances. Our new single “Maneater” isn’t something that sounds like anything else on the radio. The idea is to make things better.”

John Oates has explained that while it is natural to assume the lyrics are about a woman, the song actually was originally written “about New York City in the ’80s. It’s about greed, avarice, and spoiled riches. But we have it in the setting of a girl because it’s more relatable. It’s something that people can understand. That’s what we do all of the time”, after describing how they took a similar approach with the earlier song “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do).”

The Hall & Oates music video opens with a woman (Aleksandra Duncan) walking down a red staircase, and the band playing in a dimly lit studio with shafts of light projecting down on them. The band members step in and out of the light for their lip sync. A young woman in a short party dress is shown in fade-in and fade-out shots, along with a black jaguar, hence the song line “The woman is wild, a she-cat tamed by the purr of a Jaguar.” (in the lyrics’ context, the Jaguar in question is the car manufacturer).

Here’s a look at the complete Top 20 on the U.S. singles chart from this day back in 1982:

1 3 MANEATER –•– Daryl Hall and John Oates (RCA)-10 (1 week at #1) (1)
2 1 MICKEY –•– Toni Basil (Chrysalis)-16 (1)
3 2 GLORIA –•– Laura Branigan (Atlantic)-24 (2)
4 5 THE GIRL IS MINE –•– Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney (Epic)-7 (4)
5 4 TRULY –•– Lionel Richie (Motown)-11 (1)
6 6 STEPPIN’ OUT –•– Joe Jackson (A&M)-18 (6)
7 7 DIRTY LAUNDRY –•– Don Henley (Asylum)-8 (7)
8 8 SEXUAL HEALING –•– Marvin Gaye (Columbia)-8 (8)
9 9 ROCK THIS TOWN –•– The Stray Cats (EMI-America)-14 (9)
10 10 MUSCLES –•– Diana Ross (RCA)-12 (10)

11 11 IT’S RAINING AGAIN –•– Supertramp (A&M)-8 (11)
12 14 DOWN UNDER –•– Men At Work (Columbia)-7 (12)
13 13 SHADOWS OF THE NIGHT –•– Pat Benatar (Chrysalis)-10 (13)
14 15 HEARTBREAKER –•– Dionne Warwick (Arista)-11 (14)
15 12 UP WHERE WE BELONG –•– Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes (Island)-18 (1)
16 18 AFRICA –•– Toto (Columbia)-8 (16)
17 19 ROCK THE CASBAH –•– The Clash (Epic)-12 (17)
18 21 YOU AND I –•– Eddie Rabbitt with Crystal Gayle (Elektra)-11 (18)
19 20 THE LOOK OF LOVE (Part 1) –•– ABC (Mercury)-15 (19)
20 25 BABY, COME TO ME –•– Patti Austin with James Ingram (Qwest)-14 (20)