“It’s a Mistake” by Men at Work: pop at the height of the cold war

There’s not a bad song on Cargo (1983), but “It’s a Mistake” is one of the standout cuts on the album. Written by Colin Hay, it was the third single off Cargo and did pretty well on the charts.

If I remember correctly, the video was in heavy rotation on MTV for a while, but it didn’t get anything like the airplay that “Down Under” or “Who Can It Be Now?” got on the cable channel.

I’ve loved Hay’s vocals since I was a youngster, but this is (still) one his best performances IMO. He builds up some really believable intensity on the final chorus and then brings it back down for the outro. The track also has some sparkling guitar work and great bass.

The cold war message in the song isn’t particularly subtle but what do you expect from a four-minute pop song? If you weren’t fortunate enough to grow up with 80s music, give it a listen. If you did but haven’t checked in with Men at Work for a while, give it a spin as well. Despite its age, the song still sounds fresh and is still in heavy rotation around these parts.

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