Besides a knack for songwriting and charming vocals, his cool, clean, boyish good looks and a brooding intensity enabled Montreal’s Corey Hart to work with some big names in the business, and it was not long before Aquarius Records offered him a recording contract. He was sent to Manchester, England to write for his debut 1983 album, First Offense. “Sunglasses at Night” reached #24 on the charts, and, given the quality of the album, awareness spread mainly by word of mouth.
Due to its success, Hart was under tremendous pressure for his followup release. He had his entire life to write his first album but only a couple of years for the second. The buzz generated by the debut meant that his sophomore work had to be as good if not better if he were to capitalize on the momentum and hit the big time. Another challenge for Hart was that the Canadian singles charts were at the time dominated by British acts: Simple Minds, Tears for Fears, Wham!, and Duran Duran. The Canadian media did an excellent job of building tremendous anticipation for Corey’s new music. Heavy promotion preceded the launch of single “Never Surrender” which heralded the release of Boy in the Box on June 14, 1985, exactly 30 years ago today.
As stations across the country hyped the pending airing of “Never Surrender”, we all sat with our ears glued to the radio waiting. And then we heard it. Those opening keyboard riffs made the hair at the back of our necks bristle out, and we were completely floored. Number one smash “Never Surrender” was the biggest song of the entire year 1985 and won the Song of the Year JUNO. The album’s title-track broke into the Top 10, and “Everything In My Heart” hit #1. Album Boy in the Box became only the second Canadian album in history to attain diamond sales; it sold 1 million copies in Canada.
The Canadian Music Blog has been in touch with Jacki Andre who recently contributed a celebratory article and trivia slideshow to the Huffington Post (see it here) and comments on some of the tracks from Boy in the Box with the following words:
Thirty years later, fans continue to hold on to the song [“Never Surrender”] for support during personal crises, such as chronic and mental illness, addiction, and grief. Hart describes hearing fans’ stories about the impact of the song on their lives as “the ultimate gift” for a songwriter. Hart has provided insight to some lyrics on the album. “Everything in my Heart” was written as a love letter to his fans; “Sunny Places – Shady People” is about apartheid in South Africa; and “Boy in the Box” was inspired by DJ Steve Anthony, who signed off with, “This is Steve Anthony, your boy in the box, on 98 Hit Radio CKGM [in Montreal].”
Corey Hart made us all very proud to be Canadian.