Over the years, an array of parameters has been used to validate or qualify the greatness of a pop song. These parameters include conventional measures such as record sales, radio airplay, and popularity of the artist. In my humble opinion, great pop music stands the test of time while transcending generational boundaries. It does not matter how many records an artist sold and how high his or her chart position was if people cannot remember the music. Fad-induced popularity of music has been a reality for decades but such music rarely ever stands the test of time.
The late 80s spawned many talented bands. Not all them were prolific (even though their members may have been on their own) but a few succeeded in leaving their mark on pop music history by creating music that has passed the “litmus test of greatness” – that is, its ability to stand the test of time. Johnny Hates Jazz was one of those few bands.
In the late 80s, critics were quick to discount the band as a “flavor of the moment” act but their voices were drowned out by those of music listeners across the globe that welcomed Johnny Hates Jazz with open arms. Their infectious concoction of melancholic, upbeat, and hook-laden pop was distinct from anything their contemporaries were making. The impeccable songwriting of lead singer Clark Datchler married with the enviable technical proficiency of Mike Nocito and Calvin Hayes made the trio a potent and unstoppable force. Their debut album “Turn Back The Clock” was a smashing success that topped the charts in the UK. It spawned the hit singles “Shattered Dreams”, “I don’t want to be a hero”, and “Turn Back The Clock”. The success of the album’s lead single “Shattered Dreams” was mirrored in the US. A series of stylish music videos by the band and their screen presence made them irresistible to MTV viewers. This was clearly a band destined for further greatness. Yet, at their zenith, the band’s first incarnation ended as lead singer Clark Datchler decided to pursue a solo career. The band’s follow-up album “Tall Stories” was unable to match the success of its predecessor and the band split up soon after. It seemed like the Johnny Hates Jazz story had ended almost soon after it began.
Despite the short life of the band, it is evident that they left an indelible impression on music listeners of their generation and the generations that followed. Do not take my word for it. Spend some time perusing some of the comments on the band’s music videos on youtube and convince yourself of it. Furthermore, their music continues to grace radio airwaves globally.
The unfinished pop music story is typically the one that leaves a lump in the hearts of fans. It leaves them in a bittersweet state of longing wondering what “could have been”. Fortunately, Johnny Hates Jazz fans do not have to wait any longer. The wait has exceeded 20 years but it is over.
In 2010, the band reunited for a tour that took them through Europe and parts of Asia. In doing so, they successfully rekindled the flame of love that they had lit in the hearts of many back in 1988. But for Clark Datchler and Mike Nocito, nostalgia simply ain’t enough. They are back in the recording studio working on a new Johnny Hates Jazz album that will hopefully see the light of day in early 2012.
More importantly, I had the golden opportunity to interview Clark and Mike from Johnny Hates Jazz last week. They spoke candidly about the years since the first Johnny Hates Jazz incarnation as well as their new album. Needless to say, fans have a LOT to look forward to. Click on the PLAY button below to start listening to the interview. I hope you enjoy this 35-minute long interview with Clark Datchler and Mike Nocito from Johnny Hates Jazz as much as I enjoyed chatting with them.
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In case you did not pick up on this earlier, the blog you are reading is affiliated with Radio Creme Brulee – an online radio station that features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades. Alongside newer artists, we also play plenty of newer music by bands that rose to prominence in the 80s and 90s. Noteworthy examples include Simply Red, Wet Wet Wet, Tears For Fears, Suede, The Corrs, Dubstar, Duran Duran, Camouflage, Spandau Ballet, INXS, Depeche Mode, Johnny Hates Jazz, Simple Minds, and Culture Club.
Give us a spin when you get a chance.
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