Crafty and melodic new wave/synth pop group from Montreal who rose to fame in the early '80s with the international hit "The Safety Dance."
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Men Without Hats Biography

by Matt Collar

Rhythm of Youth Canadian new wave and synth-pop band Men Without Hats gained international fame with their upbeat and quirky dance sound, centered on the baritone croon of singer Ivan Doroschuk. They emerged to success in the '80s, scoring Top 20 hits with "The Safety Dance," off 1982s Rhythm of Youth, and 1987's "Pop Goes the World." Both songs became enduring '80s anthems, solidifying the group's place in pop culture history. After breaking up in the '90s, the band returned in the 2000s, touring and releasing albums including 2012's Love in the Age of War and 2021's Again, Pt. 1.

Hailing from Montreal, Quebec, Men Without Hats initially began in the late '70s as a punk rock band lead by singer Ivan Doroschuk. However, by 1980 Doroschuk had officially relaunched the project as a synthy new wave band, adding his brothers, bassist Stefan Doroschuk and guitarist Colin Doroschuk, as well as keyboardist Jérémie Arrobas. They independently released their debut EP, Folk of the '80s, in 1980; it was reissued the following year by Stiff in Britain.

Folk of the '80s (Part III) Several lineup changes followed and the group eventually solidified with the Doroschuk brothers joined by keyboardist/percussion Allan McCarthy. It was this lineup that recorded the band's 1982 debut full-length, Rhythm of Youth. Produced by Marc Durand, the album included the single "The Safety Dance," which became a major hit, peaking at number three on the American charts in 1983. Driven by an insistent three-chord synthesizer riff, the song was one of the biggest and most recognizable synth pop anthems of the new wave era, helping the album crack the Top 20 in both Canada and the United States. The breakthrough success of "Safety Dance" was such that it led to the band postponing work on their follow-up album halfway through the recording process to tour. Released in September 1984, Folk of the '80s (Part III) spawned a Top 40 hit in Canada with "Where Do the Boys Go?" However, it did not perform as well as their debut in the U.S., where it peaked at 127 on the Billboard 200.

Pop Goes the World After more lineup changes, Men Without Hats returned in 1987 with Pop Goes the World. The title-track single proved a hit, topping the charts in Austria and landing at number two in Canada, where the album reached number eight. The song also hit the Top 20 in the United States, pushing the album to number 73 on the Billboard 200. Two years later, they released their fourth album, the Stefan Doroschuk-produced The Adventures of Men & Women Without Hate in the 21st Century. The set reached number 41 in Canada and included the singles "Hey Men" and "In the 21st Century," as well as a cover of ABBA's "S.O.S." Influenced by the grunge movement of the early '90s, the group debuted a more guitar-oriented rock sound on 1991's Sideways. The album was only released in Canada and Japan, and by 1993 Men Without Hats had broken up.

The Spell Following the group's end, singer Ivan Doroschuk pursued a solo career, releasing The Spell in 1997. He and his brother Stefan eventually reunited and issued the group's sixth album, No Hats Beyond This Point, before again parting ways. After an almost ten-year hiatus, Ivan Doroschuk again re-formed a different version of Men Without Hats, touring and playing festivals. In 2012, he collaborated with Skinny Puppy's Dave Ogilvie on the group's seventh album, Love in the Age of War, which found him returning to their classic '80s synth pop sound. He continued to lead different iterations of the band, appearing on various '80s-themed tours with acts like Human League, Berlin, Andy Bell of Erasure, and others. In September 2021, Men Without Hats released the EP Again, Pt. 1.

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