Canadian singer Corey Hart quickly found a niche in the North American pop music market as a passionate singer of melodic power ballads and genuinely compelling mid-tempo mainstream rock. Especially on his first two albums, this talent and energy translated into major hits, and even after those dried up in the U.S., Hart continued to produce consistently solid rock. Here's a chronological look at the best songs of Hart's fertile '80s period, during which he released four albums of mostly self-composed, nearly always worthy material.
Iconic for the era almost to the point of parody, this song also happens to be distinguished by several unimpeachable elements - including one of the most memorable synthesizer riffs of the '80s, a wonderfully melodic bridge, and energizing power guitars. The lyrical focus and highly conceptual music video may both be a touch silly, but Hart certainly earned the instant hit status this track enjoyed in 1984. As the lead-off single from his debut album, First Offense, the song reached the Billboard pop Top 10 in the U.S. and has remained an '80s sensation ever since. Instantly establishing Hart's signature, ultra-passionate vocal delivery, this is a song that doesn't lose its luster after numerous listens over the years.
This track represents yet another impressive melodic achievement for Hart, all the more noteworthy given the artist's age when he wrote and recorded it. Unfortunately, it also suffers a bit from an overlong, somewhat cloying saxophone solo that takes away from the tune's exquisite structure. Still, this second single from First Offense became Hart's first major Canadian hit, peaking at No. 4 in 1984. Less successful in the U.S., it doesn't match its predecessor in terms of either drama or conceptual depth. Nevertheless, there is a certain amount of restraint here that still manages to allow Hart's passionate vocals to shine through unfettered.
This is certainly Hart's finest moment in terms of pure pop songcraft, and it also happens - quite deservingly - to be his biggest all-around hit song. Aside from being the first of several chart-toppers in his native Canada, this near-perfect power ballad scored comparably well on Billboard's pop charts in the U.S., peaking at No. 3. Arena rock of the '80s had a knack for the slow build, usually employing soft keyboards at the start and then introducing something approaching hard rock guitars before the fadeout. Hart manages to take this formula a step further here, unleashing a series of melodic breaks that have essentially no peer across eras and genres.
A slow ballad from 1985's Boy in the Box, this track once again showcases Hart's penchant for fist-clenching emotional expressions of romantic yearning. Interestingly, however, despite approaching dangerously over-the-top territory on more than one occasion, the song manages even still to remain something better than a mere parody of the artist's middle-of-the-road tendencies. As usual, songwriting prowess saves the day, as effective verses build slowly into a transcendent, seamless chorus full of convincing rises and falls. Hart earned his success during the mid '80s, even if it never quite penetrated as deeply as the songs probably deserved.
This tune certainly begins with nothing but keyboard-tinged atmosphere and little else in terms of melodic sophistication. But when the bridge kicks in with its chirpy guitars, Hart once again blends his mastery of rock vocal delivery with top-notch compositional skills. Unfortunately, American audiences who didn't own the LP stayed largely unfamiliar with the allure of this song, as it failed to chart there entirely as the album's fourth and final single. Even in Canada, this one peaked only at No. 29, but it remains an entirely worthy '80s pop music moment nevertheless.
This lead-off track and single from Hart's 1986 full-length release, Fields of Fire, both preserved the artist's carefully built momentum and returned him to balanced prominence on the pop charts in North America. At this point, Hart's work had begun to sound a bit repetitive - dominated by ballads and mid-tempo offerings as it certainly was. Nevertheless, this is a strong effort from an '80s career full of compelling moments. And although a few more hits emerged from 1988's Young Man Running - including particularly the acoustic guitar-laden tunes "Take My Heart" and "Spot You in a Coalmine" - this song represents the final bona fide Corey Hart classic of the decade.