Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Adult Contemporary Series: "Overkill" by Men at Work ...

I have no business writing this. I'm being hugely disrespectful to the Men at Work song that has more meaning to me by even mentioning "Overkill" in what is obviously the sacred space of my Adult Contemporary Series.

So, first I pay homage:

I was probably about 6 when the band released the single "Down Under," which remains the No. 1 source for everything I know about Australia. Such a catchy song, all flutes, Vegemite sandwiches and just the faintest touch of an accent. My brother was equally enthusiastic about the song and it became a sort of anthem around our house. I have to imagine a cassette was purchased and that there were repeated plays well beyond the song's life on "American Top 40."

Meanwhile, my dad is a loyalist. I can only think of one musician he's ever expressed appreciation for: Marty Robbins. Yet, somehow, he let Men at Work needle its way into his brain. That is where his contemporary music knowledge started and ended.

We took advantage of this. Every time we heard "Down Under," we asked him: "Dad, WHO SINGS THIS?!" and he'd earn a victory with his "Men at Work." Then we started doing it with other songs very obviously not by Men at Work, but "Men at Work" remained his favored response.

(Oddly enough, during one of his most recent visits we were at Menards and a song was playing and he looked up from the beadboard he was studying and said "Boy George?" He was right. I sense he was holding out on us all along).

Anyway, it's "Overkill" that has become my new favorite old Men at Work song ever since I saw the episode of "Scrubs" where Colin Hay performs an acoustic version of it. It really changes the song in a way that takes it from something upbeat to roller skate to in the 1980s to something to throw on an emo mix CD with Iron & Wine in the early 2000s. Plus, like all songs reimagined acoustically, it really showcases Hay's unique voice in an intimate way. Now, it's the original version I heard today on Adult Contemporary Radio. But the original just reminds me of how much I like the acoustic do-over.

The Adult Contemporary Series explores the hits of the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s and what they meant to me, inspired by a song heard while listening to Adult Contemporary radio in my Adult Contemporary Car.  

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