Men at Work: Analysis of the 'Down Under'

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Many successful rock bands, historical or current exhibit a gradual and unexpected growth that sees the coming together of talented artists. Men At Work is one such rock band. After creating many solo recordings, Colin Hay decided to form a rock band and in 1978, Men At Work was born in Sydney Australia. Throughout the decades, the rock band was able to maintain a unique and contemporary sound, which incorporated groovy and easy sounding music. In the early 80s, the group was one of the most influential rock bands. Their exemplary music style was eventually crowned during the nineteenth century after they released Down Under, which was the number one song on Billboard charts. In this paper, I shall analyze this song in regards to the concepts of duration, dynamics, and expressive techniques.

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Over the years, Down Under was interpreted as a patriotic anthem but according to lead vocalist Colin Hay, who also wrote the song, it was intended to pass on the message of celebration. It does not necessarily matter for what reason one was celebrating; the song is intended to motivate one to celebrate every moment in their lives. According to Hay, it seemed ironic that so many people chose to understand the song in a single way because during the same period of its release, a similar song, Born in The USA included activities that people like to engage in when they are feeling nationalistic. Therefore, Hays inclusion of similar activities, which include drinking beer and throwing hands up may have steered away the intended message. Also, in the final verse, Hay uses strong words and phrases which create the impression of a young Aussie, who is proud of his country. This analogy gives many people the impression that it is a patriotic song whereas it is only supposed to serve as an example. It is obvious that the song has many layers of its meaning. When one takes the time to understand the deeper message in the song, one realizes that it is more than just about celebrating ones country. The emphasis of young blood in the songs video, for example, is meant to pass the message that the song mainly talks about the life of young Aussie people.

Also, it talks about the increased development in the country, the plundered countryside, and the lost spirit among citizens. The song was written at a time when the Australias social conscience about the impact of the modern world on native Aussie people surfaced. During this time, there was evident social conflict regarding the plundering of land from the Abos people. The songs allusion of thunder reflects the feeling of the people at the time. A social storm was brewing, and the Abos people were eventually going to stand up and claim what theirs is. As the song states, they did go ahead to claim their Australian identity. This analogy of the draining culture of indigenous Abos people due to the fast-rising modern culture in the country is meant to emphasize the state of the world during this time. People all over the world have begun practicing what they term as current. Most of this current behavior is characterized by cliches such as heavy drinking, drug abuse, and traveling. Apart from the creation of imagery regarding the state of affairs in the country, the song presented another underlying theme about the life of the young Aussie people. Plenty of drug usage and carefree behavior characterize their lives. This behavior is referred to in the song with the use of native words such as chunder, beer, vegemite, and hunky fellow. This behavior among young Aussie people is also as a result of the impact of the modern world, which in contrast to that of the indigenous Abo culture appears flimsy. This analogy is also used to highlight the naivety and ignorance of the modern Aussie.

The song demonstrates the real nature of Australian culture, which reaches many more people internationally apart from those in the Land Down Under. In the first verse, Hay sings about encountering a strange lady who assists him out of his van, which has broken down and provided him with breakfast. This verse is intended to illustrate the nations hospitality behavior. The Aussie people are known to place humanitarian virtues before other luxuries. This trait is evident in the countrys love for art and nature. In the second verse, Hay further emphasizes the significance of the countrys culture when he sings about buying bread from a man in the city of Brussels where he is treated to a vegemite sandwich, which is an Australian custom. In his final verse, Hay is an adventure in Bombay. He uses the location to characterize Australia as the land of plenty. Although the verses do not completely cover Australias provisions in its entirety, these three verses highlight the strong feeling Hay has for his heritage, which he also intends to inspire in other people despite their nationality.

The song accommodated every aspect of a musical composition in its genre and an added funky tune which enabled it to stand out among other songs during its year. The song factors several elements into its catchy background thereby creating a perfect rhythm. The song consists of sections, which flow around the chorus thereby creating the right lyrical flow. It is easy to establish how the sweet melody and rhythm came to be before the guitar, drums, flute, and keyboard was incorporated. Hays magical and inventive lyrics provided an added advantage towards the creation of a song that relates to the audience. However, according to Hay, the songs rhythm came from a bass sample that the bands lead guitarist recorded as a demo. The sample was originally composed with bass beats played on bottles filled with water at different levels to obtain the different notes. After listening to the demo, Hay was able to come up with some verses, which he wrote after a drive home while listening to the demo. The authenticity of his lyrics is also seen in his use of phrases in the native Australian tongue.

Men at Work presented a niche in the musical industry, which had not been ventured into by any musical genre within Australia. Then, Melbourne was recognized as the art and musical hub. It represented Australias native customs and practices in unique works of art and music. However, with the fast development of Sydney, Australia was adopting new practices, which seemed to dictate the ways then and the future to come. Although the modern world was already beginning to take shape earlier on, Australias music industry was not characterized by music contributing towards the revolution. To date, Australia is known for maintaining its traditions when creating music. This is one of the reasons why the country is recognized as an icon of art and music today. However, these customary tactics did not keep Men at Work from creating a song that would put Australia on the map. This song also demonstrated how far the rock culture had spread and what its members identified themselves with. The same reckless behavior was illustrated in the song. The only difference was that in this case, Hay placed more emphasis on the prevalence and impact of this carefree behavior on the Aussie people.

It has been two decades and counting since the song was released. However, the song still presents an aura of uniqueness and transition. It goes without saying that the song will continue to reach the hearts of people in generations to come with its excellent groove and style.

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