It's a Mistake

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"It's a Mistake"
Single by Men at Work
from the album Cargo
B-side "Shintaro"
Released June 1983
Format 7" 12"
Genre Pop, new wave
Length 4:33
Label Epic
Writer(s) Colin Hay
Producer(s) Peter McIan
Men at Work singles chronology
"It's a Mistake"
"Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive"

"It's a Mistake" is a song recorded by the Australian group Men at Work. The song was written by Men at Work singer/guitarist Colin Hay and the recording was produced by Peter McIan. It was released in June 1983 as the second single from their album Cargo. It entered the charts at #42 on July 2nd, 1983 and peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 1983. It was performed live on Saturday Night Live on October 22, 1983.


The song's lyrics deal with the mindset of military men across the world in the 1980s, wondering if and when the democratic countries of NATO and the communist states of the Warsaw Pact will end the Cold War standoff with conventional battle or a nuclear exchange. Hay sings in the persona of a mid-level officer wishing to learn from his superiors if his men are going to war or not.

Music video[edit]

The video, which had moderate rotation on MTV (as opposed to the band's singles from their Business as Usual album), was mostly set in an underground bunker or "War Room" similar to the NORAD facility of Cheyenne Mountain, and the band seemed to engage in a semi-retelling of the 1964 black comedy Dr. Strangelove. At the end of the video, the officer is nervously tapping his fingers and inadvertently knocks open the protective cover from the nuclear button, which is right next to his ashtray. Then, when he goes to stub out his cigarette in the ashtray, he accidentally hits the button instead.

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1983)[1] Position
Australia (Kent Music Report) 34
Canada (RPM Magazine) 26
Germany (Media Control Charts) 19
Ireland (IRMA) 11
New Zealand (RIANZ) 43
United Kingdom (The Official Charts Company) 33
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 6
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 10
U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 27


External links[edit]