10 Phil Collins Songs That Secretly Rule
People who deny the existence of Phil Power are just kidding themselves. Everyone knows there's an alternate-dimension parallel to Earth called Phil Collinworld -- a place where it always rains but the citizens remain perpetually happy. Because if you’re a major fan of Phil Collins' music, solo or with Genesis, you know his best and brightest stuff is also his saddest. And you also know that it rules. What follows are the 10 best Phil Collins songs -- pop classics haters love to hate. But let 'em. Phil Power conquers all.
One of Phil Collins’ best rave-ups as a member of Genesis, ‘Jesus He Knows Me’ is that humorous, tongue-in-cheek Collins you saw in videos like ‘Land of Confusion’ and heard on songs like ‘Tonight, Tonight, Tonight’ (with that police-siren keyboard effect). But ‘Jesus’ finds Phil tackling the issue of televangelism, which was all over TV in the ’80s and ’90s and to some extent still exists today with preachers like Joel Ostein and Pat Robertson. It’s about the idiocy of organized religion and how these evangelicals make it even more idiotic. Whether or not you agree, it's crazy this song got on the radio and became popular.
From Collins’ latter-day Genesis years, ‘No Son of Mine’ was an adult-contemporary smash, and given how frequently it turned up on the radio, some fans might have soured on it. But if you revisit the song, you hear Collins at his introspective, lachrymose best. It’s the story of a man who tracks down -- and is spurned by -- his abusive father years after running away from home. It’s pretty amazing that something this deep could have been considered both pop and radio-friendly at the time. Maybe it’s a sign of the times.
Another one of Phil Collins’ greatest moments as a member of Genesis, ‘In Too Deep’ is all about that off-beat chorus, and by that we mean “[rest] You know I love you but I just can’t take this / [rest] You know I love you but I’m in too deep.” It’s such a cool little classical figure to come in on the off-beat instead of the on-beat. And Collins’ lyrics, all about loving someone too much to stay together, are among his best. That complex scenario plays out all the time, but it takes someone like Phil to put it in a song.
The title and lead riff that repeats throughout the opening bars of the song should give you fair warning that this is not some jokey tune. It’s Serious Collins at his absolute finest. The song is a slow-builder, and as Collins adds ridiculously catchy pop hooks, he keeps you waiting, waiting, waiting for the climax. Then the chorus comes, and it’s ... wordless! Incredible!
This next one makes the list of the 10 best Phil Collins songs on the strength of its gut-wrenching (or as they say in England, “gutted”) chorus alone. In Collins’ ‘All Summer in a Day’ world, a scorned ex-lover gets the soapbox he deserves, only to tell his ex how messed up his life has become without her. He’s hoping she’ll come back, “against all odds.” Often forgotten: the drum break after the first chorus. It's not as cool as the one as 'In the Air Tonight, but it's still pretty dope.
Appearing on 1985's ‘No Jacket Required,’ ‘Sussudio’ is about as close to Prince-level pop as a white British guy has ever gotten. It’s got such a complex rhythm and melody, and those hit you before you even have the WTF moment where you’re like, "What the hell does Sussudio mean?" You’re so caught up in the music you almost forget that the main "name" in the song is practically gibberish that rhymes with “studio.”
Diehard Genesis fans -- you know, the Peter Gabriel purists -- stick their noses up at this album, because it was the first time the band really went all-out pop with Phil Collins as lead singer creative force. But it's one of the greatest albums of the '80s, and the title track -- No. 4 on our list of the best Phil Collins songs -- is pure magic. Pick apart what he’s saying, and you’ll see why: “She seems to have an invisible touch / she reaches in and grabs right hold of your heart.”
Phil can do anything, and here, he rings up his mate Eric Clapton and gets him to drop a tasty solo on this awesome, downhearted number, which shot up the charts in 1989. The best part of this song? The bridge. It’s the Golden Gate Bridge of bridges.
The horn arrangement in the intro lets you know this will be an amazing song, and that it’s not a slow-burn like ‘In the Air Tonight.’ It’s as much a drum song as any of Phil Collins’ tunes, and the man basically rolls out a red carpet of awesomeness. There's the “I’m sorry” call-and-response, for starters, and the verse melody is one Collins’ strongest. Then, of course, there’s the chorus. It should render any serious musician speechless. It’s almost perfect in its construction.
No. 1 on our list of the best Phil Collins songs is the lava-filled core of the man's solo career. It’s end-of-my-rope Collins. He's a man scarred by a dissolving marriage, and the results are unbelievably great. How many hit ‘80s songs sound this big but have such fragile beats for the build-up? And then there are the lyrics, where the narrator refers to somebody drowning and him not helping (i.e. his future ex-wife and him). Best of all: that famous everybody-drop-what-you’re-doing-and-air-drum drum break.