Saturday, 19 February 2011

54: Men Without Hats, “The Safety Dance” (no.6, 1983)

“Or, as they’re known these days, Men Without Jobs” (© The Simpsons), with the only one-hit wonder to have been written in response to draconian health-and-safety legislation. While gigging some time in the early 80s, this Quebecois combo - whose name derived from brothers Stefan and Ivan Doroschuk’s refusal to wear the appropriate headgear during the cold Canadian winters - found themselves aghast at the harsh treatment being meted out by bouncers to patrons of the Montreal club scene found guilty of pogoing too enthusiastically to the then-current play list of New Wave favourites. The Doroschuks retreated to their cabin in the snowy woods, where they fumed and schemed and vowed to write the protest anthem that would stick it to The Man. And that, children, is how we arrived at The Safety Dance, a form of physical expression so circumspect it requires everybody to “look at [their] hands” and thus ensures “everything’s under control”. And it’s got a little person in the video. [Footnote: Dom Joly and I are in agreement that MWH’s follow-up single “Pop Goes the World” should have been a bigger hit. Or, indeed, “a hit”.]

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