Men at work - down under

Men at work - down under

Men at work - down under

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"Down Under" (also known as "Land Down Under") is a pop song recorded by Men at Work for their debut album Business as Usual (1981). The song went to #1 on American, British, and Australian charts.

It was reissued in 1982, and is the only Men at Work song to go to #1 in the United Kingdom, and their only single to make the UK top 20. It has become a popular and patriotic song in Australia.

The lyrics are about an Australian traveller circling the globe, proud of his nationality, and about his interactions with people he meets on his travels who are interested in his home country.

One of the verses refers to Vegemite (an Australian food product) sandwiches, among other things; the particular lyric "He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich" has become a well-known phrase.

Colin Hay told Songfacts: "The chorus is really about the selling of Australia in many ways, the over-development of the country. It was a song about the loss of spirit in that country. It's really about the plundering of the country by greedy people. It is ultimately about celebrating the country, but not in a nationalistic way and not in a flag-waving sense. It's really more than that."

Slang and drug terms are used in the lyrics:

Travelling in a fried-out Kombi, on a hippy trail, head full of zombie.

Here "fried-out" means overheated, Kombi refers to the Volkswagen Type 2 combination van, and having "a head full of zombie" refers to the use of a type of marijuana. Cultural slang is also used: "women glow and men plunder" which could reference the euphemism of women "glowing" rather than sweating. After the second verse the refrain is "where the beer does flow and men chunder"; "chunder" means vomit.

Cultural significance

The flute part in the song was allegedly based around the tune of "Kookaburra", a well-known Australian children's rhyme. Originally, "Down Under" was released as the B-side to "Keypunch Operator", a rare custom-pressed single by Men at Work; some of the guitar melodies from that version were further developed into flute parts on the later release.

The music video was filmed in a number of places, including Lake Mackenzie on Fraser Island. The video also features several litre-size cans of what appear to be Foster's Lager (although the brand is removed), a beer drunk mainly outside Australia while being marketed as Australian.

The song is a perennial favourite on Australian radio and television, and topped the charts in the U.S. and UK simultaneously in early 1983. It was later used as a theme song by the crew of Australia II in their successful bid to win the America's Cup in 1983. Men at Work played this song in the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, alongside other Australian artists. It was also often played after Australian athletes had received medals during competition, as they walked around the venue on a parade lap after the medal ceremony.

In May 2001, Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) celebrated its 75th anniversary by naming the Best Australian Songs of all time, as decided by a 100 strong industry panel, "Down Under" was ranked as the fourth song on the list.

In October 2006, Triple M had the Essential 2006 Countdown of the most popular songs of all time, voted by the listeners. "Down Under" was the number 3 voted/ranked song.

The song was ranked #96 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 1980s in October 2006.

The song has been used as the entrance music for various professional Australian sportsmen, including darts player Simon Whitlock, cruiserweight boxer Danny Green (for his fight against Roy Jones, Jr. on 2 December 2009) and snooker player Neil Robertson.

The song was played extensively during the September 2009 One-Day International cricket series between England and Australia, which Australia took by six matches to one.

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80s | pop | new wave | rock | australian