Song of the Day: “Down Under” by Men at Work

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.

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