Musical coincidences # 200

March 18, 2012

Bein’ as this is the 200th coincidence on the blog, I’ll commemorate the series with a noted famous infamous notorious one.

For many a year, Men At Work quite happily had a hit song called “Down Under” that was considered beloved and about as non-controversial as you could get by all and sundry. That is until…

That is until an Australian TV music game show pointed out a similarity between one of “Down Under”‘s flute riffs and a melody in an old Australian children’s song. It set off an ugly music lawsuit involving a puzzled band and a breathtakingly greedy record company.

I was going to expound at length about the ins and outs of this wholly unedifying saga, but I’ll spare you that by showing you this segment from an Australian news program for teens. It explains things quicker than I can:

This is the bit that got Men At Work into trouble:

Men At Work – “Down Under (1981) (excerpt)


And here’s the opening melody of the 1934 children’s song “Kookaburra” by Marion Sinclair:

Kookaburra (1934) (excerpt)


It was a messy court case, and Men At Work frontman Colin Hay was none too pleased about it.

Anyway, here are the full versions. The “Kookaburra” here is sung by an unnamed children’s choir. (I found it here).

Men At Work – “Down Under (1981)


Kookaburra (1934)