Retro Spin: Corey Hart’s ” Sunglasses at Night”


Canadian performer, Corey Hart, was a mainstay of US charts and video music programming in the early to mid-1980s. With hits like “Sunglasses at Night,” and “Never Surrender,” Hart gave a sound to a 1980s ethos that resonated with fans around the globe.

Corey Hart: “Sunglasses at Night”

“Sunglasses at Night” can be found on Hart’s “No Offence” album. It was released in January 1984. For a song that on its surface didn’t make a great deal of sense- – not that the 1980s were full of songs crafted on logic- – “Sunglasses At Night” was immensely popular. Not only did it trade on the all-black sunglasses trend that was popular at the time, but it gave the fashion trend a bit of mystery. Listeners might have wondered why would someone wear sunglasses at night?

But the song was not simply about accessories. The searing guitar chords and Hart’s raspy, half-shouted delivery of the chorus, made “Sunglasses at Night” a sort of mainstream, angry boy anthem that was “fun” for adults and kids to sing. Although, the line “Don’t masquerade with the guy in shades, oh no!” does make listeners think. There is the hint of betrayal or false identity in almost every line.

Hart’s soundscape for”Sunglasses at Night” includes a sharp-edged mix of keyboards and guitars. Tension-filled pauses and bresks leave audiences waiting for the dynamic chorus. The sound provides a little something for everyone. Rock elements, dance elements can all be found in the song. The mashup of elements has made the song classified in new wave, synth pop and hard rock. While the last category might be arguable, the song certainly meets the criteria for rock or rock-pop.

The sound of “Sunglasses at Night” and Hart’s delivery made the song stand out. In Canada, “Sunglasses” reached No.24; in the US, the song peaked at No. 7 on both Billboard and Cashbox charts.

“Sunglasses at Night” lives on in satellite and FM radio playlists, and retro collections of all types. The haunting keyboards and angry vocals and guitar are just part of the song’s appeal.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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