The other day I heard that song for the first time in over 20 years, and haven't been able to get it out of my head since! You try to after a couple listens:
This was probably the last big hit from a new wave band -- 1988, a good 4-5 years after the peak in '83-'84. And since so many new sounds were coming out back then, five years was a long time. Of course the differences are apparent too: the wild times of the '60s, '70s, and '80s are starting to wind down, so it's not quite as body-moving and danceable, even compared to the mellower new wave classics like "Save a Prayer" or "Saved by Zero." The bassline is still smooth and syncopated, but not as groovy, and the synth just voices a crying motif every now and then, instead of steadily building tension to keep your body in a state of suspense.
Still, it's an infectious song, and every Amazon review of the album it's from, Turn Back the Clock, says the rest of the songs showcase the band's talent for catchy melodies and toe-tapping rhythms. I can't say, since I plan on buying it (remastered with bonus tracks in 2008), and don't want to spoil the first listen by hearing it in degraded form first on YouTube.
Usually an album review from a one-hit wonder doesn't read that way. Johnny Hates Jazz must have slipped through the cracks as pop music was shifting toward the emphasis in the '90s and after on sheer emoting during the performance, with the basic composition not mattering anymore.