Exploring the Top 100 One Hit Wonders – Men Without Hats – Rhythm of Youth

16 Jan

And we’re back.  You can thank Tide for this, I suppose.

For years, I’ve known that Men Without Hats had another “hit” called “Pop Goes the World”, but I had never heard it.  Until today.

For months now, this ad has been appearing ad nauseum on televisions everywhere: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNz4A1rMTnA

Cause, they’re called Tide “pops” and the song is called “Pop Goes the World”…get it? Get it?! Oh forget it.

Anyways, for a few weeks, I kept saying to myself, “That must be that Men Without Hats song…I really need to hear it.”

And then the stars aligned…

I don’t know how many of you out there use Grooveshark, but the new version is just about my favorite thing ever.  They suggest songs based on genres you’ve been listening to and it’s not a radio station, you can queue the songs up.  Today was a banner day: They recommended me Synth Pop (which happens about once a week, but I’ve been listening to post-punk a lot lately, so I haven’t seen the Synth Pop suggestion show up in a few weeks) and lo and behold, there was “Pop Goes the World”.

What a joyous beautiful song.  I almost wonder if that song didn’t exist if we wouldn’t have The Magnetic Fields.  It’s like they based their entire sound around that one moment of synth pop history.

Anyways, I knew at that moment that Men Without Hats weren’t a band that sounded like “The Safety Dance”, they were a band that got famous off of that one quirky song they wrote.  Or, at least, that’s what I hoped.  It was time to find out.

Much as I just wanted to listen to Pop Goes the World, I knew I had to do right by my myriad readers out there and bring back “Exploring the Top 100 One Hit Wonders”, and so, I elected to spin Rhythm of Youth instead.

Now, if you’re still here after that extensive and unnecessarily long introduction, THE REVIEW!:

A few initial impressions:  These guys sound like a lot of different bands:  The lead singer sounds a lot like Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs, a few songs reminiscent of those huge glammy 80s songs about countries…like…”Big in Japan” by Alphaville (I’m specifically referring to 2nd track, “Living in China” here) and sometimes they have some New Order-esque synthesizers going.

“I Got the Message” is an obvious standout.  It’s hard to say of you can still call “The Safety Dance” a standout  or if you ever could, it’s too effected by time at this point.  But, “I Got the Message” is one of the best songs featuring a non-stop synthesizer run I’ve possibly heard that’s not by New Order.  This is also the second time the album has reminded me of David Bowie, as the short opener was reminiscent of the Hunky Dory era to me.

Despite wondering whether or not “The Safety Dance” is actually a good song, I am never going to stop loving it, this is possibly one of the stupidest, funnest songs ever recorded and I’ll never stop being grateful that it exists.  I’m writing this as I listen to it and I’m smiling like an idiot.

Yikes, there’s even a song on here that sounds like “Turning Japanese”, (“Ideas for Walls”) but it’s less irritating.  Really, I can’t deny it at this point,  I am loving this album like crazy.

At this point in my little running diary, I started looking into facts and figures about One-Hit Wonders because I’m a nerd, so I don’t have specifics to say about any particular tracks, I’ll just say:  This was an extremely pleasant listen and I’m glad that every once in a while, putting myself through these albums turns up something worthwhile.  I say that because their next two albums actually have higher scores on Rate Your Music (even if they have far fewer votes).

The fun part of this, was of course, once again getting into a self-debate on whether or not the band is actually a one-hit wonder.  While “Pop Goes the World” hit #20, technically making Men Without Hats 2-hit wonders, I think it’s safe to say this is one of those exceptions in which the latter was greatly overshadowed by its predecessor.

Final verdict:  Check out  “I Got the Message”, “The Safety Dance” and “Ideas for Walls”.  This album gets a strong 7.5 from me.  Can’t wait to hear the next two.

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