In honor of Colin Hay’s 69th birthday, today’s Song of the Day is Men at Work’s “Down Under”. Throughout the ’80s, America was obsessed with Australia. From Olivia Newton-John to Rick Springfield to Men at Work to Foster’s Beer to Crocodile Dundee to Elton John’s performance of “Candle in the Wind” live in Australia to Yahoo Serious. Well I think America had had enough after Yahoo Serious.
But anyway, Men at Work’s “Down Under” was a smash hit in the U.S. as it also was a smash around the globe. The song was originally released in 1980 as the B-side to their first local single titled “Keypunch Operator“.
Thankfully, they rerecorded the song, and released it in 1981 as their second single from their album Business as Usual. Their first single, “Who Can It Be Now?” was a #1 hit in the U.S., and there was no sophomore slump with “Down Under”.
According to Songfacts, the quirky video became a huge hit on MTV. The network had been on the air for only a year, and they didn’t have many videos to choose from. Men at Work didn’t know much about MTV, but British and Australian bands had been making videos for some time. The band made videos that fit their personality, often improvising scenes and using their friends for help. The guy who stands up and offers the Vegemite sandwich is the band’s drummer, Jerry Speiser. He wasn’t really “6 foot 4 and full of muscles” – he had to stand on something to get extra height. He also wore a wig.
Men at Work released just two more albums after Business as Usual before breaking up in 1986. But, in thoe few short years, the band was quite a force on MTV and on radio.
Sorry it’s been a while since there has been a Song of the Day, but we are back! I recently made it to the movie theater for the first time since, The Rise of Skywalker (I’ve seen every single live action Star Wars film in the theater from 1977 through today). And as with a lot of GenXers, it took Tom Cruise and Top Gun to get us back. I don’t want to get into a review here, but Top Gun: Maverick is a must see! I wish all sequels/remakes/reboots of our 80s movies were treated with such respect.
Since I’m in a Top Gun mood, today’s Song of the Day is my favorite (and very underrated) track from the legendary soundtrack – “Mighty Wings” by Cheap Trick.
The song was written by Harold Faltermayer and Mark Spiro. It was the third single released from the soundtrack album. Unfortunately, it had to follow “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins and “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin. The latter of which won both the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.
“Mighty Wings” has that classic 80s inspirational power rock sound that pumps you up. It is full of power chords and Robin Zander’s sweeping vocals. It is a perfect fit for Top Gun.
Before this, Cheap Trick had been launched into international stardom with their 1978 live album, Cheap Trick at Budokan. After the success of that album, the band struggled until they recorded “Mighty Wings”. Shortly after this, the band had a huge resurgence in 1988 with their Lap of Luxury album and their number one smash hit, “The Flame“.
The band is still recording brand new music, most recently 2021s In Another World. They are still rocking as hard as ever, and Robin Zander is a freak of nature as he still sounds as strong as ever.
If this song flew under your radar, just as Maverick needs to do in the new movie, definitely check this out!