Colin Hay has been honoured with APRA AMCOS’ Billions Award for his songwriting on Down Under, the iconic hit that continues to take the charts by storm.
The award is given to APRA AMCOS members in recognition of their song surpassing the billion streams milestone and was presented to Hay and Sony Music Publishing this week.
Down Under was the second single from Men At Work‘s debut album, Business As Usual. Written alongside the band’s guitarist Ron Strykert, the song went to #1 in Australia in 1981. It topped the charts in New Zealand, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Switzerland and Italy the following year. In 1983, Down Under spent four weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold two million copies in the US alone.
This year, the iconic Men At Work tune went to the top of the charts again after Perth producer/DJ Luude gave it a festival-ready spin featuring new vocals by Hay. The Luude version reached #2 in Australia, spent nine weeks at #1 in New Zealand and 29 weeks on the UK chart, peaking at #5.
Down Under currently soundtracks the new Tourism Australia campaign in a reimagined take by King Stingray, singing in Yolngu Matha and English.
Speaking in a Q&A with APRA AMCOS CEO Dean Ormston, Hay said about writing the song, “I think that more than anything, the way that the song felt was that I had this deep love for this country, but not in a flag-waving way, in a very deep spiritual way. I didn’t quite understand what it was, but I can still feel it; I can’t often put it into words—I love the place so much. That’s what the song is; it’s about love and celebration in a very true way.”
He also shared his thoughts on Luude and King Stingray’s interpretations of Down Under: “The young lad Luude brought it to life; it’s just one of those songs—it’s in people’s consciousness.
“The young band King Stingray who have done it—I couldn’t think of a better way to update the song than to have traditional lyrics from First Nations people who can interpret the song and go ‘OK, this is what it means to me’ and bring it forward to today and further the cause of inclusion. Anything you can do to further the cause, I’m happy to be part of it.”
Ormston noted, “This award is very special because it honours the songwriter and, ultimately, the connection of a song on a global scale. Down Under is about heart and home; it connects with people in a very fundamental way and is as relevant today as it was 40 years ago.”