Tuesday, November 10, 2020

"Pop Goes the World" by Men Without Hats

Song#:  3314
Date:  10/31/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  20
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  This Canadian band earned a major worldwide hit with the quirky "The Safety Dance," a track from the band's debut LP Rhythm of Youth. It would reach the Top 10 in many countries including the US where it got to #3 in 1983. It would help the album attain gold level sales in the US. It looked like they might turn into a one-hit wonder with follow-up singles from the album and their next effort, 1984's Folk of the 80s (Part III), getting little attention, but then this bouncy ditty came along. It was the lead single from the band's third album of the same name and it ended up doing well just making the US Pop Top 20. It would also get to #27 at Dance. The song helped the album reach #73. In their Canadian homeland, this track would be their biggest hit getting to #2 while the LP would make it to #8. Unfortunately, it would be their last song to reach the US Pop chart. A follow-up song, "Moonbeam," would barely make the US Dance chart at #47.

ReduxReview:  I remember buying the 45 of this song without hearing it. I saw that it was shaping up to be a hit in Canada and since I had loved the band's "Safety Dance," I thought I'd just spent a buck to give it a listen. When I first played the tune, I thought "this is gonna go nowhere here!" It sounded like some nursery song dressed up in synthpop clothes. It was quirky and nearly laughable. Yet somehow the dang thing caught on. I was completely shocked that it actually made the Top 20. However, the more I heard the tune, the more I realized how memorable and infectious the melody was. Although the song was utterly dorky, there was something quite endearing about it that just made you want to bop along. It was like those simple, catchy schlager songs that everybody sang along to in Europe. Somehow, against the odds, this song caught on in the US. Of course this tune has always gotten overshadowed by "The Safety Dance," but it also rightfully earned a spot on the list of the quirky/fun synthpop hits of the decade.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The song's simple, infectious melody would later get picked up and used by football (soccer) fans in various countries. Different words would be used for each team, but the popular melody stayed the same. The melody was also adapted and used as a chant during the 2019 social/economic protests in Chile.  2) After this, the band quickly cooled off everywhere except for in Canada where their next album yielded one last Top 10 hit with 1989's "Hey Men." In 1991, they released the more guitar-driven rock album Sideways, which couldn't even chart in Canada. With that result, the band broke up. Lead singer/songwriter Ivan Doroschuk would then release a solo album to little notice in 1997 titled The Spell. He would then reform Men Without Hats over the years with various lineups and release a couple of albums.


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