Top 40 Smash Near Misses — “Don’t Hold Back Your Love”

These posts are about the songs that just barely failed to cross the key line of chart success, entering the Billboard Top 40. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 41.

hall oates

Daryl Hall and John Oates were ludicrously successful at delivering hits in the first half of the nineteen-eighties. They’d enjoyed plenty of success in the prior decade, too, including a major chart-topper in 1977. But beginning with the single “Kiss on My List,” from the 1980 album Voices, they crossed to whole other level. They took that track to the top of the Billboard chart, a feat they repeated one four more occasions in the following four years. Eight other singles charted Top 10, and eight more went into the Top 40, including “So Close.”

Co-produced and co-written, oddly enough, by Jon Bon Jovi, “So Close” was the duo’s final Top 40 hit. Its follow-up single came tantalizing close, though, peaking at #41 on the Billboard chart.

“Don’t Hold Back Your Love” was the second single from Change of Season, the 1990 album from Hall and Oates. Its predecessor drew on the songwriting and studio efforts of a performer who was still at a commercial peak (Bon Jovi’s New Jersey produced five successive Top 10 hits in 1989), but “Don’t Hold Back Your Love” had a shakier pedigree. It was co-written by Richard Page, whose pan-flashing success with Mr. Mister was already a minor embarrassment that pop radio was pretending never happened. As Page’s involvement suggests, the single sounds exactly like mid-eighties detritus spruced up for the dawn of the nineties.

To be fair, dreck exactly like “Don’t Hold Back Your Love” made it to #1 in the loony year that also featured multi-week runs at the pinnacle of the Billboard chart for both Sinead O’Connor singing her heart out and Paula Abdul duetting with a rapping cartoon feline. Still, even Oates and Hall (let’s switch the billing once) had to know they were working with material that was dismal compared to the pop wonders that fueled their heyday.

Other entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Top 40 Smash Near Misses” tag.


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