Who Can It Be Now?

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"Who Can It Be Now?"
Men at work-Who Can It Be Now (Australia).jpeg
Australia single
Single by Men at Work
from the album Business as Usual
B-side "Anyone for Tennis" (instrumental)
  • 6 June 1981 (Australia)
  • 13 August 1982 (US)
Format 7"
Recorded Spring 1981
Length 3:23
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Colin Hay
Producer(s) Peter McIan
Men at Work singles chronology
"Keypunch Operator / Down Under"
"Who Can It Be Now?"
"Down Under"

"Who Can It Be Now?" is a song recorded by Australian band Men at Work. It was first released as a single in Australia in June 1981, prior to the recording of their 1981 debut album Business as Usual, on which the track was later included.

"Who Can It Be Now?" reached no. 2 on the Australian singles chart in August that year, and also hit no. 45 in New Zealand. Released in Canada in early 1982, the track peaked at no. 8 in late July. This spurred an American release of the song, and the single, by now well over a year old, went on to hit no. 1 in the US in October 1982. "Who Can It Be Now?" was also a modest hit in the UK, reaching no. 45. As one of Men at Work's biggest hits, it was featured on their later compilation albums, and a live version can be found on Brazil. The song remains a popular symbol of new wave music and has been featured on numerous 1980s compilations. The band performed both this song and "Down Under" live on Saturday Night Live on 23 October 1982.


"Who Can It Be Now?" was inspired by Colin Hay having been hounded by bill collectors prior to making it big. The lyrics feature the narrative of a reclusive and paranoid man who hears knocking at his house door and wishes to be left in solitude. The presence of a "childhood friend" is mentioned, and the bridge lyrics give the impression that the narrator fears once again being taken away to a mental institution. Musically, the song features prominent saxophone lines provided by Greg Ham and a mid-tempo beat. Its chorus vocals, which make up the song title, feature a melody that is echoed through saxophone in a call and response fashion. The second chorus pushes the anxious lyrics further and becomes flush with vocal harmony.


David Fricke of Rolling Stone commended it by noting "Ham's blowsy sax and the rousing chorus of voices raised in alcoholic harmony spark the rugged boogie of 'Who Can It Be Now?'"[3] AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine called the song an "excellent single that merged straight-ahead pop/rock hooks with a quirky new wave production and an offbeat sense of humor."[4] Heather Phares reviewed the song specifically and summed up by saying "In keeping with current trends but just quirky enough to be instantly memorable, the song seems custom-built for repeated play; it's easy to see why it became one of 1982's biggest hits, as well as a definitive new wave single."[2]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1981–83) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[5] 2
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[6] 8
Germany (Official German Charts)[7] 71
Ireland (IRMA)[8] 18
France (IFOP)[9] 20
Israel[10] 1
Italy (FIMI)[11] 10
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[12] 49
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[13] 45
South Africa (Springbok Radio)[14] 5
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[15] 45
US Billboard Hot 100[16] 1
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[17] 33
US Billboard Top Tracks[17] 46
US Cash Box[18] 1
Preceded by
"Jack & Diane" by John Cougar
US Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
30 October 1982 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Up Where We Belong" by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
US Cash Box number-one single
23 October 1982 – 30 October 1982 (2 weeks)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reed, Ryan (2 March 2011). Colin Hay Is Still at Work, 25 Years After 'Down Under' at the Wayback Machine (archived 15 March 2011). Metro Pulse.
  2. ^ a b Phares, Heather. "Who Can It Be Now? – Song Review". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  3. ^ Fricke, David (22 July 1982). Men at Work – Business As Usual at the Wayback Machine (archived 30 September 2007). Rolling Stone.
  4. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Men at Work – Business as Usual". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  5. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  6. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 6557." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Men At Work – Who Can It Be Now?". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  8. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Who Can It Be Now". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  9. ^ "Le Détail par Artiste" (in French). InfoDisc. Select "Men at Work" from the artist drop-down menu. Retrieved 7 August 2016. 
  10. ^ "Billboard – Hits Of The World". Billboard. 94 (47): 66. 27 November 1982. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  11. ^ "I singoli più venduti del 1983" (in Italian). Hit Parade Italia. Creative Commons. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  12. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Men At Work – Who Can It Be Now?" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  13. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Men At Work – Who Can It Be Now?". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  14. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (M)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  15. ^ "Men at Work: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  16. ^ "Men at Work – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Men at Work.
  17. ^ a b "Business as Usual – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  18. ^ CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending OCTOBER 23, 1982 at the Wayback Machine (archived 20 September 2012). Cash Box magazine.

External links[edit]