Phil Collins was so overjoyed when “Against All Odds” got nominated for an Academy Award in 1985 that he re-routed his Australian tour so he could fly in to attend the event. The song was his first Number One in America and he was thrilled to have to chance to perform it at the Oscars in front of a worldwide audience of millions. Then he got the bad news: The Academy wasn’t going to let him sing it at the 57th Annual Academy Awards, offering the dubious argument that this was a movie event and thus only movie people would perform. Even though he was one of the biggest stars in the world at this point and would be in the audience, eager to play, he’d have to sit there and watch dancer Ann Reinking deliver the tune.
He walked into the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with his head high, telling reporters on the red carpet that he looked forward to seeing Reinking’s take on the song. Then the show started. Not only was Deniece Williams allowed to sing “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” from Footloose, but Ray Parker Jr. was permitted to sing “Ghostbusters.” He sat in his chair and stewed, and his anger only grew when he saw Reinking lip sync part of the song as she did a ridiculous, cheesy dance with a male partner. Stevie Wonder won the Best Song Award for “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” and when Rolling Stone caught up with Collins the next morning he was still fuming.
“It was awful,” he said of Reinking’s performance. “But I’m glad I didn’t sing the song now, after what they did to Ray Parker.” He then turned his attention to Stevie Wonder. “He is one of my heroes, but I have serious doubts about whether or not that song was actually written for the film,” he said, before offering an explanation for why Wonder won that he probably regrets: “He’s blind, black, lives in L.A. and does a lot for human rights.”
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If it wasn’t for the infamous Rob Lowe/Snow White dance number four years later, the “Against All Odds” debacle would probably have gone down in history as the most cringe-inducing Oscar moment of the 1980s. Luckily for Phil, he finally got his Best Original Song Academy Award in 2000 for “You’ll Be in My Heart” from Tarzan, and they even let him sing it. Unluckily for Phil, it happened to go up against “Blame Canada” from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who showed up to the broadcast high on LSD, didn’t love losing to Collins and proceeded to mock him mercilessly on the show. Poor Phil. That guy just can’t win.
Watch Phil Collins and ‘Hamilton’ star Leslie Odom Jr. perform “Easy Lover.”