Men at Work – Who Can It Be Now?

First Hit #1: October 30, 1982

This project leads to a lot of “This song was by that artist?” moments, the latest of which is Men at Work, a band probably best known for its tribute to Australia. But that’s in the future, today we have their tribute to paranoia and saxophone, Who Can It Be Now? There has been sax spread throughout the ’80s landscape, mostly sprinkled lightly over the top of the chart, such as when Hall and Oates broke it out to dominate all the charts they were eligible for. It’s a risky move, to bring out the sax, since it’s the kind of instrument that doesn’t really like being relegated to the back burner. The sax line here calls attention to itself, a bright beacon in a dark and hidden world.

But this is a song that needs a beacon, since it’s about someone who is afraid of knocks on their door and wants to be alone and away from the world. The sax serves as a counterpoint, because it wants people to pay attention. It almost seems as though the sax is trying to draw out the paranoid protagonist, since it gives a much different impression than the downbeat vocals which get increasingly revealing and deranged as the song goes. If the sax is a risk, it’s one that winds up being worth taking, just for the contrast.

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One Response to Men at Work – Who Can It Be Now?

  1. Robert Berman says:

    You know, for a song with one of the awesomest, most recognizable sax riffs in pop music (the one echoing the chorus melody), the actual sax solo after the bridge (around the 2:00 minute mark in the video) is really terrible. Not a single good riff in the whole thing. The lyrics on paper veer sharply away from the Colin Hay/Men at Work goofball image, but the delivery is so cheerfully tongue in cheek, one hardly notices it’s a song about paranoid schizophrenia; it might as well be the pizza guy knocking.

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