By now, it should be apparent that I have an affinity for synthesizer-driven 80’s music. In fact, there is very little of 80’s synth-pop, New Wave, avant-garde that I don’t like.
I also happen to have a healthy admiration for much of the music that evolved out of Canada during that time. Men Without Hats is no exception. Widely known for their heavily-rotated MTV hit “Safety Dance” featuring the rich baritone voice of Ivan Doroschuk and a very-80’s catchy dance-beat, the band endured through the 80’s with several line-up changes.
The founding duo, Doroschuk and brother Stefan formed the stable nucleus starting with the band’s first release Folk of the 80’s in 1980, while a host of other musicians wandered in and out over the span of about 11 years. Two one-time members went on to find fame in their own bands; Jean-Marc Pisapia as front-man for the widely popular Montreal-based band called The Box, and Terry Howe who went on to form Canada’s own Rational Youth.
“Safety Dance” broke the band in a huge, international way, coming from the album Rhythm of Youth released in 1982. They managed another international hit with “Pop Goes The World” from the album of the same name in 1987. Another LP, The Adventures of Women & Men Without Hate in the 21st Century, hit the bins in 1987. The band decided to drop the synthesizers for a more guitar-driven sound and released an album called Sideways in 1991. Unfortunately, that effort never gained any traction and the band broke up shortly after.
Their two international hits aside, Men Without Hats had so much more potential that was not fully recognized. A personal favorite, “Antarctica,” from the Rhythm of Youth LP blends the urgent post-punk vocals with the new Wave Dance beats flawlessly. The frenetically-paced “Ideas For Walls” from the same album is a masterpiece of 80’s composition. In fact, the entire album stands on its own as a perfect showcase for the true talents of this brilliant band, leaving its listeners aching to hear more.
Unfortunately, it was not to be, which is why in my estimation, Men Without Hats has earned its spot along with so many other Criminally Underrated 80’s artists and bands.
“Safety Dance” via YouTube user taze:
“Pop Goes the World” via YouTube user Standard999999:
“Antartica” via YouTube user kkkkkklf:
Folk of the 80’s (1980) EP – Canada only
Rhythm of Youth (1982)
Folk of the 80’s (Part III) (1984)
Freeways (1985) – Canada only
Pop Goes The World (1987)
The Adventures Of Men and Women Without Hate in the 21st Century (1989)
Sideways (1991) – Canada only
No Hats Beyond This Point (1993)