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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Whatever Happened to Corey Hart?

Over the last couple of weeks, I decided to do a feature for the Sunday Jukebox where I took a look at some artists who were huge in the 1980s, but seemed to have dropped out of sight in recent years.  I was interested in finding out whatever became of some of these artists, and in my research I have found some interesting information.  Who knew that Kim Wilde found a passion for gardening, or that the music group Expose reformed twenty years after they originally broke up?  It's all quite fascinating.

Well, it's fascinating to me, anyway.

This time around, I thought that I would switch things up a smidgen.  The first two artists I focused on were female, so this week, I'll put a male artist in the spotlight.  And this time around, I think I will pick a guy who is Canadian.

And certainly in Canada, he made a huge impact on the charts.  Sure, in the United States, he had a couple of hits - but in Canada, he really knew how to come onto the music scene with a "BANG".  Three of his thirty-five singles in Canada reached the top spot on the Canadian charts (in comparison, his highest ranking single only reached #3 in the USA).  And he is one of those rare artists that was big in the 1980s, went away for a while, and had a career renaissance during a time in which the Macarena was the top song in North America.

However, right around the time of the new millennium, the hits stopped coming, and many of us were left in the dark as to what happened to him.  In fact, we were so in the dark that it felt as though we were all wearing sunglasses at night.

Funny...that just happens to be the title of his very first hit.

ARTIST:  Corey Hart
SONG:  Sunglasses at Night
ALBUM:  First Offense
DATE RELEASED:  January 21, 1984

In the 1980s, it was definitely good to be a Corey.  Corey Haim and Corey Feldman had the movie scene covered...and as far as music went, you had Montreal-born singer Corey Hart taking the stage.  Interestingly enough, "Sunglasses at Night" is one of the only songs that actually did better in the United States than it did here in Canada.  The song was a Top 40 hit, but stalled at #24.

But as I mentioned before, Corey Hart had a LOT more hits here in Canada.  And, while "Sunglasses at Night" was his legitimate first offense from "First Offense", a total of three singles were released - the slow jam "It Ain't Enough" and "She's Got The Radio".  It was definitely a great way to start, but his sophomore album "Boy in the Box" would become an even bigger smash.

After all, the song "Never Surrender" exploded in popularity in the year 1985, and gave Corey his first #1 hit in Canada.  That single alone reached Platinum Status in Canada, and was instrumental in earning Corey his first Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy Awards) in the summer of 1985 for Single of the Year.  Ironically enough, this song did not make Corey Hart surrender...if anything, it gave him the strength and the power to make a mark on the Canadian music industry.

I mentioned before that "Never Surrender" was his first #1 hit.  His other two were "Everything in My Heart", released the same year as "Never Surrender", as well as a cover of an Elvis Presley tune "Can't Help Falling in Love" released in 1986. 

And between 1984 and 1992, Corey Hart released a total of six albums.  Some albums were immediate successes such as 1986's "Fields of Fire", while others were largely forgettable, such as 1992's "Attitude & Virtue".  But one thing you could say about Corey Hart was the fact that he didn't really seem afraid to sing any type of song.  He was just as skilled with heavy rock songs like 1985's "Never Surrender" and 1990's "A Little Love", as he was with powerful ballads such as "Everything in My Heart" and "I Am By Your Side" from 1986.  He was definite a versatile artist, but by the time the 1990s rolled around, rock music was fading out of popularity to make way for grunge, Hi-NRG, and dance music, and for a few years, Corey faded into obscurity.

At least, that was the case until 1996 when he came back onto the music scene with a self-titled album that I would readily call his most mature work that he has ever released.  I actually owned this album once upon a time, and can honestly say that I love every single song from it.  You had the catchy single "Tell Me", which got your toes tapping the minute it came on the radio, as well as the powerful love song "Third of June", which was a Top 20 hit here in Canada.

But my favourite track off that album?  It has to be this one.

When "Black Cloud Rain" was first released in 1996, I initially didn't believe that it was Corey Hart singing it until I saw the music video for the single.  This is definitely one awesome song - one that might make my list for one of my most favourite songs ever.  This song also sparked a renewed interest in Corey Hart, as the single just missed becoming Corey's fourth #1 single, peaking at #2. 

Unfortunately, that renewed interest was short-lived.  Despite releasing one more album entitled "Jade" in 1998, Canadians moved on to other artists, and Corey's final single, "La-Bas" (a duet that he recorded with the woman who would become his future wife, Julie Masse) did not chart.

So, whatever happened to Corey Hart?

Well, after marrying Masse in 2000, he would become the father of four children, and the family would end up leaving Canada to start a new life in the Bahamas.  And for the most part, Corey has put music on the backburner as he decided to focus most of his time to raising his family.

But that's not to say that he has given up on music entirely. 

Thanks to the advent of social media websites like Facebook, Corey is frequently updating his fans on what he is working on, and is probably one of the few artists out there who openly answers questions from fans right on his website and Facebook page (which you can find HERE).

Corey also collaborated on a single in 2012 with DJ 1Love entitled "Truth Will Set You Free", which became a sort of anthem for the LGBTQ community, and in 2014 released an album "Ten Thousand Horses" exclusively through iTunes.

And if you're interested in reading more about the life and times of Corey Hart, his autobiography, "Chasing the Sun: My Life in Music" was released in 2014 - thirty years after "Sunglasses at Night" first hit the charts.

So now you know the story of Corey Hart - a man who lived the dream of being a singer, and continues to dabble in the craft even now.  A guy who never once surrendered.

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