Men Without Hats

 

Debut: 1980, Montréal
Breakthrough: 1983
Years Most Active: 1980-1991

Primary Members:

Ivan Doroschuk (vocals)
Stefan Doroschuk (guitars)
Colin Doroschuk (keyboards)
Allan McCarthy (percussion)
Jeremie Arrobas (drums)
Lenny Pinkas (drums)

Genre: New Wave / Dance

Biggest Hit:

The Safety Dance” (1983)

– Peaked at #3 in the U.S., #6 in the U.K., and #4 in Canada
– #82 on the CHUM FM year-end charts
– 11th biggest song of the year in South Africa

Other Hits:

– “I Like”, 1983
– “I Got the Message”, 1983
– “Living in China”, 1983
– “Where Do the Boys Go?”, 1984
– “Pop Goes the World”, 1987 (#1 Austria, #2 CAN, #20 US)
– “Moonbeam”, 1987
– “Hey Men”, 1989 (#8 CAN)
– “In the 21st Century “, 1989
– “Sideways”, 1991

Studio Albums:

1980: Folk of the 80’s (EP)
1982: Rhythm of Youth (Platinum in CAN, #13 on U.S. Billboard 200)
1984: Folk of the 80’s Part III
1985: Freeways (EP)
1987: Pop Goes the World
1989: The Adventures of Women & Men Without Hats in the 21st Century
1991: Sideways

While many 80s songs have long since been forgotten, “The Safety Dance” continues as a popular song today, attracting new fans from younger generations. Its official video on Youtube has been viewed over 3.8 million times. But Men Without Hats is far from being a one-hit wonder group. Its “Pop Goes the World” was even more successful in Canada, peaking at #2 on the charts, and it cracked the Top 20 on the American Billboard Hot 100. “Hey Men” made the Top 10 at the end of the decade. Men Without Hats formed in Montréal and did not shy away from using some French in their songs.

Ivan Doroschuk was playing keyboards for a late-’70s Montréal band called Heaven Seventeen. He left the group to form his own band, Men Without Hats, with brothers Stefan on bass and Colin on keyboards. Another ex-Heaven Seventeen member Tracy Howe joined them briefly before forming the synth-pop outfit Rational Youth in 1982. The Doroschuk brothers had grown up in the wealthy suburb of Outremont. One of their private school’s classmates was Jeremie Arrobas who joined the group as their drummer. His parents owned a small mansion on Mount Royal and they were allowed to rehearse there. Arrobas’ father helped finance the band, buying them their equipment and paying for the production and manufacture of their first record (EP), Folk of the 80s in 1980.

The band’s name came about because the Doroschuk brothers developed a reputation for refusing to wear hats during the city’s cold winters, sticking to their belief in style before comfort. They became known as the “men without hats”.

In 1982, the group released the full-length album Rhythm of Youth. Its single “The Safety Dance” was a huge success, entering the Top 10 in 20 countries around the world. It also garnered a Grammy nomination. The album was certified platinum in Canada and Men Without Hats won three Félix awards.

Men Without Hats released their follow-up album Folk of the 80s Part III in 1984. The single “Where Do the Boys Go?” was a Top 30 hit in Canada. The following year, they took a detour and released the experimental EP Freeways. With the lack of international success since Rhythm of Youth, they made some line-up changes (Lenny Pinkas on drums) and switched over to Mercury Records. In 1987, they released Pop Goes the World. Its title-track was a huge hit in Canada, peaking at #2. It topped the charts in Austria, made the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., and was the 15th biggest song of the year in South Africa. As with “The Safety Dance”, the song was nominated for the Juno song of the year award. The album spawned a second hit-single “Moonbeam”, which made the Top 30 in Canada.

The Adventures of Women & Men without Hats in the 21st Century followed in 1989 and included the Top 10 hit “Hey Men”. In the 90s, the band met the same fate as a number of other 80s acts. Convinced that keyboards were no longer in fashion, they switched to a guitar-based format which effectively killed off their popularity by alienating their fans. They released what was to be their final album Sideways in 1991 calling it quits in 1992 and worked on solo projects thereafter. Ivan’s “Open Your Eyes” finished as the 90th biggest song of 1997.  The band returned in the new millennium with the rare collectors’ item No Hats Beyond This Point (2003) and the Dave “Rave” Ogilvie produced Love in the Age of War in 2012.

Both “The Safety Dance and “Pop Goes the World” received SOCAN Awards in 2006 for achieving 100,000 airplays on domestic radio.

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