Callin’ Oates Hotline: For When the Hall & Oates Urge Strikes

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Holidays got you feeling like a Grinch? Thank goodness for the soulful stylings of 70s and 80s rockers Hall & Oates. And it’s easier than hitting YouTube or digging through your vinyl collection – you can phone in your cheer this Christmas thanks to the Callin’ Oates hotline.

It’s a simple phone number with a simple message, one of infectious pop-rock joy. (The standard disclaimer applies: this may be a long-distance call for you.) Four choices abound, pumping through your phone’s earpiece: “One on One,” “Rich Girl,” “Maneater” and “Private Eyes.”

Launched Monday evening, the hotline’s creator evidently underestimated the wide-reaching fans of Daryl and John. In just 24 hours, Callin’ Oates had received more than 35,000 calls. But that’s hardly impressive compared to the following two days: more than 250,000 people dialed in as of late Wednesday evening. All calling in to a simple answering machine hooked up to a phone number in Colorado.

Perhaps it’s the spontaneity of the idea, or perhaps it’s the viral campaigns asking friends and readers to “call this number” with no context, but the Callin’ Oates hotline has struck a chord with listeners. So who’s behind the magic: surely some diehard fan looking to spread the word, right? Hardly; it’s a business project hatched by Michael Selvidge, an employee at San Francisco-based firm Twilio. The cloud communications company requires all employees to build an app.

Selvidge, a communications manager for Twilio, scratched his head for an idea. “I thought, ‘If only there was a pun that would work with this…’ Then ‘Callin’ Oates’ hit me, and that cinched it,” he told The Verge. Working with his high-school friend Reid Butler, they bought the number (for a mere $1/month) and set up the phone number to play some MP3s stored online.

Simple? Yes. Brilliant? Yes. Because you never know when a musical emergency will strike. And the smooth sound of Hall & Oates is always able to bring even the biggest Scrooge through the day.