Home Music Music Lists

Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Phil Collins Songs

Your picks include ‘In the Air Tonight,’ ‘Against All Odds’ and ‘Easy Lover’

Phil Collins

Frans Schellekens/Redferns

Phil Collins recently told the press that he's writing new songs and contemplating a return to the road, possibly with Genesis. He was the hardest-working man of the 1980s, but with the exception of the Genesis reunion tour of 2007, he's largely been retired for the past decade.

"I think he got himself into a bit of a hole and that's great news he's coming out of it," Peter Gabriel recently told Rolling Stone. "It doesn't have to involve work, but if it does, that's a great indicator." We asked our readers to select their favorite Phil Collins solo songs. Click through to see the results. 

 

Play video

10. ‘The Roof Is Leaking’

Phil Collins is the first to admit that he wasn't a very good husband and father in the 1970s. Genesis released an album almost every year and they toured heavily behind every one of them. During the few breaks, Phil Collins toured with the jazz fusion band Brand X. It couldn't have been a huge shock when his wife left him, but the pain was nearly unbearable; she took both kids and even the dogs.

Genesis were in a rare period of downtime, so Phil went into his basement and poured all his heartache into a series of demos he cut with a drum machine. "I didn't see it as making a record," Collins said later. "It wasn't cathartic, but it was obviously therapeutic." The songs became the backbone of Face Value, Collins' debut solo album. Despair is evident on every song, particularly the gut-wrenching "The Roof Is Leaking." It's a sparse track, totally unlike anything the songwriter had done in his decade with Genesis. Few people could have imagined this material would kick-start one of the most successful pop careers of the decade. 

Play video

9. ‘Don’t Lose My Number’

Phil Collins' career was absolutely on fire by 1985. Genesis seemed to get more popular with each album, and his new solo disc, No Jacket Required, was selling by the millions and generating monster hits like "Sussudio" and "One More Night." "Don't Lose My Number" was the third single, though the song began during the Face Value sessions in 1980.

The lyrics might seem like nonsense, but that's because they came from stream-of-consciousness writing sessions. Collins himself says there is no real story or message in the song. The MTV-friendly video spoofs the Police, the Cars, Michael Jackson, David Lee Roth and many other stars of the day. 

Play video

8. ‘I Wish It Would Rain Down’

Phil Collins formed a tight friendship with Eric Clapton in the 1980s. They worked together on Clapton's 1985 LP Behind the Sun and 1986's August. Both albums were coproduced by Collins, and he played drums and synths on many tracks. Clapton returned the favor in 1989 when he played guitar on "I Wish It Would Rain Down" from Collins' album …But Seriously. The song hit Number Three on the Hot 100. Check out the nearly nine-minute video featuring Jeffrey Tambor as a theater director.

Play video

7. ‘Sussudio’

The rather bizarre name "Sussudio" came out of Phil Collins' mouth one day while improvising lyrics with a drum machine. "I kinda knew I had to find something else for that word," he said. "Then I went back and tried to find another word that scanned as well as 'sussudio,' and I couldn't find one." And thus the world met a girl named Sussudio.

The tune reached Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 and was all over the radio and MTV in 1985. It remains one of his signature tunes, but many critics felt the song was too similar to Prince's "1999." In the alternate universe of 30 Rock, Weird Al Yankovic wrote a parody of the song called "Soupsoupio." It's about a guy that really likes soup. 

Play video

6. ‘Another Day in Paradise’

It's appropriate that the final Number One single of the 1980s was a Phil Collins song. He worked tirelessly that decade, churning out hit after hit with Genesis and his solo career. Somehow, he even found time to produce albums for Eric Clapton, Robert Plant and ABBA's Frida Lyngstad as well as star in movies. With "Another Day in Paradise," Collins moved away from romantic matters and into the more serious issue of homelessness. He wrote the track after walking around Washington, D.C. and seeing hordes of people living in boxes. David Crosby sings backup on the song and it topped the charts all over the world. 

Play video

5. ‘Take Me Home’

The video for "Take Me Home" shows Phil Collins traveling all over the world on the No Jacket Required tour, leaving many to think it's a song about a weary traveler. In truth, the song is about a mental patient yearning to be set free from an institution. Collins says it was inspired by One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The track was released at Collins' commercial peak, and it hit Number Seven on the Hot 100. Sting and Phil's former Genesis bandmate Peter Gabriel sing backup vocals on the song. It was the last song at his concerts for many years. 

Play video

4. ‘Easy Lover’

The Earth, Wind and Fire horn section played with Phil Collins on Face Value in 1981 and the following year on the Genesis album Abacab. In 1984, Collins returned the favor by cowriting and recording "Easy Lover" for Earth, Wind and Fire singer Philip Bailey. They shot a goofy video (check out Phil's amazing sweatervest) and released it on Bailey's 1984 album Chinese Wall. It probably surprised even them when it hit Number Two on the Hot 100.

Play video

3. ‘I Don’t Care Anymore’

Much like his debut album Face Value, the songs on Phil Collins' second LP Hello, I Must Be Going focus on his rather painful divorce. The five-minute leadoff track "I Don't Care Anymore" showcases Collins' impressive drum skills and his extreme anger towards his ex. "'Cos I remember all the times I tried so hard," he sings. "And you laughed in my face 'cos you held all the cards/ I don't care anymore." Collins plays every instrument on the song besides guitar. The song only reached Number 39 on the Hot 100, but it remains one of his most beloved solo works. 

Play video

2. ‘Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)’

The soundtrack to the 1984 Jeff Bridges movie Against All Odds is like a mini Genesis reunion. Peter Gabriel contributed the track "Walk Through the Fire" and Mike Rutherford's solo song "Making a Big Mistake" also appears. However, very few people remember either of those songs since they were completely overshadowed by Phil Collins' powerful title track.

The song began in 1981 as a demo called "How Can You Just Sit There?" Phil fleshed it out after watching a rough cut of Against All Odds. It's used all throughout the movie, and peaked at Number Two on the Hot 100. It was nominated for an Oscar, but lost out to Stevie Wonder's "The Woman in Red." Oscar producers wouldn't even let Phil sing the song because they were unfamiliar with his tune, forcing him to sit in the audience and watch Ann Reinking tackle it. The song has since been covered by Mariah Carey and countless others. 

Play video

1. ‘In the Air Tonight’

The haunting "In the Air Tonight" is Phil Collins' first solo hit. Despite all the success he's had since, it remains the most famous work of his entire career. "That's going to be on my headstone," Collins said earlier this month. "He came. He wrote 'In the Air Tonight.' He. . . died."

The lyrics have been analyzed for decades and are the source of a persistent urban legend that Collins saw a man refuse to save another man from drowning, but the truth is significantly more boring. They simply came to Phil one day at his house while he was messing around with an early drum machine. The anger evident in the song is loosely directed at his ex-wife, but there's no grand story behind it. Collins swears he offered the song to Genesis, but the rest of the guys claim to have no memory of this. Whatever the truth, he released it on his own and it became a global sensation. Every few years, another soundtrack or commercial introduces it to a whole new audience. 

In This Article: Phil Collins

Show Comments