"The band that wrote 'Safety Dance' has the most unthinkably offensive name we've ever heard."
Men Without Hats are a pop group from Montreal, Quebec that achieved their greatest popularity in the early to mid 1980s. They were characterized by the deep, expressive vocals of their lead singer Ivan and their elaborate use of synthesizers and electronic processing. Their most successful single, "The Safety Dance", was a Top 10 hit in both the US and the UK. Despite often being considered a One-Hit Wonder
in the United States, they had another Top 40 hit there a few years after "The Safety Dance" called "Pop Goes the World" (which was popular enough to grace the Top 20 as well).
At the core, Men Without Hats consisted of Ivan Doroschuk and his brother Stefan; others who were at least briefly in the group include a third brother, Colin, as well as Jeremie Arrobas, Tracy Howe, Roman Martyn, Mike Gabriel, Jean-Marc Pisapia, Lenny Pinkas, and Allan McCarthy. They emerged with an EP called Folk of the 80's (1980). Tracy Howe was only with the band briefly, but long enough to be credited on a reprint of Folk of the 80s, despite not appearing on it; he later achieved some success with his new band, Rational Youth. Pisapia went on to form The Box, and later, Arrobas and Gabriel left to work with him for a while, eventually founding their own group, Isinglass.A popular but unconfirmed tale is that the name originated from a misread announcement to one of their early gigs as "Men Without Pants" by a francophone MC in Montreal. Though that tale may be unconfirmed the fact is that Men Without Hats first started off in bars as Men With Hats, but they decided to change the name to Men Without Hats as they always threw their hats off at the end of a performance.Notable Men Without Hats videos include:
This band provides examples of:
- Blatant Lies: From "Pop Goes the World": "1, 2, 3, and 4 is 5" and "6, 7, 8, and 9 is 10."
- Call Back: The 10-note synthesizer riff from the album version of "The Safety Dance" is heard after the line "End up in some disco, dancing all night" in "Pop Goes the World."
- Canada, Eh?: The band hailed from Montreal.
- Cover Version: Of The Beatles' "I Am the Walrus".
- Dancing Is Serious Business: "The Safety Dance", considering it was written as a sarcastic response to club bouncers freaking out about pogoing.
- The Eighties
- Genki Girl
- Irony: Despite the name (inspired by them not wearing hats on the cold Canadian winter)... well, check the infobox here.
- Notable Music Videos: "Safety Dance"
- One-Hit Wonder: Often thought of as one of the textbook cases of this, but by the definition of "one hit wonder" (only one song to hit the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100), they actually were not, as "Pop Goes The World" hit #20.
- Popcultural Osmosis
- Shout-Out: "Pop Goes The World" video features a shout out to Elvis Presley.
- Take That: Ivan wrote the lyrics of "The Safety Dance" to mock bouncers who had thrown him out of a club for pogoing to New Wave music. (Thus explaining sarcastic lines like "And you can act real rude and totally removed/And I can act like an imbecile".)
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Pop Goes the World", twice.