Saturday, November 13, 1982

Men at Work’s Business As Usual hit #1 for 1st of 15 weeks

First posted 4/19/2012; updated 10/21/2020.

Business As Usual

Men at Work

Released: November 9, 1981

Peak: 115 US, 15 UK, 110 CN, 19 AU

Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, 0.3 UK, 15.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: pop rock/new wave


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Who Can It Be Now? (6/6/81, 1 US, 46 AR, 45 UK, 2 AU, 8 CN)
  2. I Can See It in Your Eyes
  3. Down Under (10/23/81, 1 US, 1 AR, 13 AC, 1 UK, 1 CN, 1 AU, sales: 1.6 million, airplay: 2 million)
  4. Underground (3/5/83, 20 AR)
  5. Helpless Automation
  6. People Just Love to Play with Words
  7. Be Good Johnny (4/82, 3 AR, 78 UK, 19 CN, 8 AU)
  8. Touching the Untouchables
  9. Catch a Star
  10. Down by the Sea

Total Running Time: 38:11

The Players:

  • Colin Hay (vocals, guitar)
  • Greg Ham (flute, keyboards, saxophone, vocals)
  • Ron Strykert (guitar, vocals)
  • John Rees (bass, backing vocals)
  • Jerry Speiser (drums, backing vocals)


3.994 out of 5.00 (average of 8 ratings)


About the Album:

Business as Usual was the debut album for the Australian new wave band Men at Work. It was released in their home country in November 1981 and saw U.S. release five months later in April 1982. They became “the most unlikely success story of 1982,” AZ spending 15 weeks atop the Billboard album chart and winning the Grammy for Best New Artist.

Their success came primarily on the basis of “two excellent singles that merged straight-ahead pop/rock hooks with a quirky new wave production and an offbeat sense of humor. Colin Hay’s keening vocals uncannily recall Sting, and the band’s rhythmic pulse and phased guitars also bring to mind a bar band version of the Police.” AMG “Like Sting, Colin Hay’s vocal inflections were more suited to reggae than to white guitar-pop; the band, meanwhile, seemed to aim for much the same kind of earnest, slightly arch tone as early XTC.” AZ

The lead single, Who Can It Be Now?, was released in Australia in June 1981, where it became a #1 hit. More than a year later, it made its U.S. chart debut, eventually soaring to the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

While that song played up paranoia in its video, the follow-up hit, Down Under, showcased Men at Work’s goofier side. The almost-novelty song celebrated their native country with a campy and popular video. The song was an even bigger hit on the U.S. charts. “For a time, Australians abroad seemed destined to have ‘Down Under’ sung at them – often by whole groups of strangers – as if it were a sunny gesture of greeting or camaraderie, instead of what it actually was: a tacit reinforcement of cultural stereotypes.” AZ “For the record: to ‘chunder’ means to vomit. And a Vegemite sandwich is nothing you’d want to eat.” AZ

The song met with more controversy in 2010 when it was determined it had been plagiarized from a 1934 Australian song “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree,” written by Marion Sinclair. The band were ordered to pay a portion of royalties to the company holding the copyright on “Kookaburra.”

“There’s a fair amount of filler on the record, but Be Good Johnny, I Can See It in Your Eyes, and Down by the Sea are all fine new wave pop songs, making Business as Usual one of the more enjoyable mainstream-oriented efforts of the era.” AMG

Notes: A 2003 rerelease adds non-LP B-side, “Crazy,” the non-U.S. single track, “F-19,” and live versions of “Who Can It Be Now?” and “Underground.”

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