Music - misc

Does Kookaburra sound like Down Under?

Let me start out by making clear: I do support artists’ superior rights to their art – period!

That being said I must confess, I find the newly settled case against the aussie band ‘Men at Work‘ a bit off the hinges. Thursday a judge Peter Jacobsen ruled that the flute riff of the 1979 megahit ‘Down Under‘ was plagiarised/stolen from the 1932 childrens song ‘Kookaburra‘.

According to CNN, Greg Ham who played the flute on the track, admitted that ‘Kookaburra’ was a part of his childhood songbook. That was, according to Judge Jacobsen, enough to conclude the riff was stolen/plagiated and used in ‘Down Under‘ some 47 years later.

An Australian music group called Larrikin Publishing bought the rights for the old ‘Kookaburra’-song in 1990 – two years after it’s original author/writer Marion Sinclair died in 1988. According to CNN, Larrikin now demands 40 to 60 percent of the royalties earned from ‘Down Under’ in Australia during the last six years.

I found the two songs on YouTube. Can you hear the foul play?


World Children’s Choir at 17th Anniversary Concert performing ‘Kookaburra’.


Men at Work’s ‘Down Under’ – focus on the flute riff.

So what do you think? I see some resemblance. But I also see some resemblance to the brilliant John Williams song ‘Double Trouble (Something wicked this way comes)’. But fined for plagiarism – I don’t know.

Personally I find this close to hilarious. Maybe Larrikin Publishing wants to compete with Sony Music Entertainment in an attempt to win the honorable Badwill Cup of modern music. OR… Maybe this is just a really lowlife PR-stunt to revitalise an old childrens song of fame. A song that – in my mind – doesn’t need revitalising.

What do you think?… Or know that I don’t know.

Thanks to ‘Vulture‘ for bringing the news to me.

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