Tuesday, December 29, 2015

"The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1504
Date:  06/25/1983
Debut:  90
Peak:  3
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Synthpop, New Wave

Pop Bits:   This Quebec band formed in 1977 and over the next few years it was a revolving door for musicians. Through it all, the one main constant was lead singer Ivan Doroschuk. Following a 1980 indie EP called Folk of the 80s, the band signed on with Warner Canada and recorded their full-length debut Rhythm of Youth. An initial single titled "I Like" didn't get anywhere, but this second single gained a following and the song reached #11 on the Canadian Pop chart. It finally bled over into the US where Backstreet Records picked it up. The song was a slow climber, but it eventually picked up speed thanks to its English folk revival themed video. It reached #3 and stayed there for four weeks. It would also reach #1 on the Dance chart.

ReduxReview:  Besides the infectious synth groove, the other draw here is Doroschuk's voice. It's not one that you'd typically hear on the radio and it stood out. Combined with the video, it was all so odd and foreign. In fact, at the time I had no idea they were from Canada. I thought for sure they were from some small European country. I totally fell for this song and played it constantly for a while. I got the album and didn't much care for it, but later on I hooked into it and now I enjoy tossing the disc on. It has great songs like "Living in China" and "Antarctica." Many folks kind of chuckle with happy nostalgia when they hear this song, but I think it's a bit more than an 80s relic. It's a great pop song.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  The inspiration for the song came from a real life encounter Doroschuk had with a club bouncer. As disco faded and new wave began to take over the dance clubs, disco dancing was out and new forms of dance were showing up. One style was the pogo. It was simple. Just stay in one place or move around jumping up and down like a pogo stick. Sometimes when groups of people all pogo, they may bump or crash into each other. Some clubs considered this unsafe and the bouncers would eject people for pogoing. This happened to Doroschuk and he used the incident as a basis for "The Safety Dance," which is basically about freedom of expression. Pogoing did lead the way to other more aggressive forms of dance such as slam dancing and moshing.


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