SAFETY DANCE by Men Without Hats is insanely classic

This has every element you could possibly want from an ’80s music video:

(1) a thumping synth beat,

(2) a lead singer with a vague accent (Montreal!) who looks like Adam Ant’s less insane cousin,

(3) some kind of ren-fair Hobbity goodness instead of the usual music video of the band preening while they lip-synch and pretend to play instruments,

(4) the best band name I’ve heard in forever, PLUS

(5) as a special bonus packed chock full of irony, nobody, not even the friends of the lead singer who professes his love for dancing, can dance a lick.

I won’t include all the lyrics, because they’re not that complicated or subtle. There’s nothing to interpret here.

HOWEVER: It’s worth dissecting the four lines everybody knows.

We can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind

‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
Well they’re no friends of mine

Those lines are so easy to remember because they’re well-built, structurally. The first two lines start the same — “We can” — and have seven syllables exactly. The singer isn’t talking about himself, but “we,” and he gets the audience involved more by making you think of “your friends.”

All the ideas come together. You’ve got three lines of setup for the payoff in the fourth line. It’s short, it’s simple and instead of using rhymes (none of these lines rhyme), the singer links the lines together using concepts and repetition. A nice little interweaving that pays off.

Also: I’ve been crazy busy, and on the road, and crazy busy while on the road. Now back to a sane schedule. If you commented, or sent me secret emails, and I ignored you, it’s not because I banned you to the Purgatory of the Spam Folder or whatever. I like you. Really. Pretend it’s Facebook circa 2007 and poke me again.

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits


This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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Filed under 2 Music Video Monday

5 responses to “SAFETY DANCE by Men Without Hats is insanely classic

  1. Pingback: 'The Carrie Diaries' Episode 2.06 'The Safety Dance' Promotional Video | Young Adult Hollywood

  2. ‘The bad guys always wear hats’ so the title of the band is great!
    A video full of bad hair, jesters, clowns and repetitive video clips. I don’t think this is a Safety Dance more like unsafe dancing but it’s so bad you can’t tear your eyes away. You only have to listen to the song once to be addicted.


  3. juliabarrett

    Ummmm… weird. Sounds like some out of time Scottish folk song. With a lesson like those old high school health class films.


  4. Sorry Guy but it’s your own fault I didn’t comment an hour ago. I started to listen to the song then reverted to the original shorter version (he still looked manic) and that started me on an 80’s jag. I’m currently on Mad World- Tears for Fears and hoping desperately to change to the 60’s soon or I’ll be too hyper to sleep later. Arghh, too late, Talk Talk, -Life’s What you Make it, with this beat I’ll be awake all night.
    I hope your sane schedule is upset by a few tracks like this in revenge.


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