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 Doroschuk 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), so they're actually a Two-Hit Wonder.
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:
- Rhythm of Youth (1982)
- Folk of the 80's (Part III) (1984)
- Pop Goes the World (1987)
- The Adventures of Women & Men Without Hate in the 21st Century (1989)
- Sideways (1991)
- No Hats Beyond This Point (2003)
- Love in the Age of War (2012)
- Again, Part 2 (2022)
We can trope if we want to, we can leave your friends behind...
- The '80s: The synthesizer-based version of the band was founded in 1980 (although it initially existed as a punk rock band with a different line-up in 1977).
- Album Title Drop: Rhythm Of Youth is mentioned in the lyrics of "I Got The Message" from the same album. (They also did a song by that name, but it never appeared as a Title Track on the album.)
- Blatant Lies/Singers Cannot Do Math: 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. "The Safety Dance" and "Where do the Boys Go?" feature spoken French phrases, while "Pop Goes the World" and its music video reference Bonhomme, the mascot of the Quebec Winter Carnival.
- Cover Version: "I Am the Walrus" by The Beatles, "S.O.S." by ABBA, and "Editions Of You" by Roxy Music.
- Dancing Is Serious Business: "The Safety Dance", considering it was written as a sarcastic response to club bouncers freaking out about pogoing.
- Deadpan Snarker: In "Heaven", "I Like", and "Folk of the 80s"
- Face on the Cover: Pop Goes The World features the face of a baby, Adventures Of Women & Men has the cutout face of a unisexual person, and Sideways has Ivan Doroschuk's face seen from the side.
- Fake-Out Fade-Out: On the original release of Folk Of The 80s (Part III), "Mother's Opinion" fades out at 7:48, then fades back in with an added flange effect and keeps going for another minute, this being a tribute to the similar ending of Roxy Music's "In Every Dream Home A Heartache". The most recent remaster of the album removes the false ending, as did some international editions of the original release.
- Genki Girl: The long-haired girl dancing around in the video for "The Safety Dance".
- Irony: Despite the name (inspired by them not wearing hats on the cold Canadian winter)... well, check the infobox here.
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: The subject of "I Like".I like when they talk real loud, try to tell you what they know.I like when it blows real hard and it doesn't even show.I like when they haven't seen a thing and try to tell you where to go.
- The Magic Goes Away: "Not For Tears"
- New Sound Album: Sideways, the band's last album before their 12-year hiatus, saw the band completely abandoning their trademark synth-pop for more contemporary, synth-free grunge and alternative rock music. To say it bombed would be an understatement.
- No Military Superpowers Were Harmed: "Heaven" and "Ideas for Walls". "Living in China" is an aversion.
- One-Man Song: "Hey Men".
- One-Woman Song: "Nadine".
- One-Word Title: "Antarctica", "Freeways", "Heaven", "Moonbeam", "Sideways", "Nadine", "Telepathy", "Dreaming", "Body", "Eurotheme" and "Roses".
- Popcultural Osmosis
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "S. A. F. E. T. Y. Safety! Dance!"
- Rearrange the Song: "The Safety Dance" has been rearranged as a mid-tempo song named "No Friends Of Mine".
- Questioning Title?: "Where Do The Boys Go?"
- "Pop Goes The World" video features an Elvis Impersonator.
- The song "Living In China" mentions Gang of Four and Adam and the Ants (although the first is most likely a reference to the Chinese political figures that the band took their name from)
- "Telepathy" shouts out to "Video Killed The Radio Star" by The Buggles.
- Spoken Word in Music: "Pop Goes The World" has a female voice at the beginning of the song saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, 'Pop Goes The World' by Men Without Hats."
- 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".)
- Title Track: Folk Of The 80's, Pop Goes The World, Sideways, and Love In The Age Of War.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Pop Goes the World", twice.
- Un-Installment: Their discography includes Folk Of The 80's and Folk Of The 80's (Part III), but no Folk Of The 80's (Part II). The subtitle of Folk Of The 80's (Part III) may just come from it being their third release overall (counting EPs but not singles) rather than it being part of a series.