I Don’t Get Why Phil Collins Was So Big

by Kevin Burton

    I only like one song by Phil Collins, That’s All

   Get it?

   So that’s not quite true, but it’s a good line because I do like the song “That’s All” and I am not so much into Collins.

   My two favorite radio stations to listen to in the car are both oldies rock stations, one that plays lighter popular sounds, one that tends to songs with a heavier guitar sound.

   Especially the first one plays a lot of Phil Collins.  I find some of his stuff unlistenable and I wondered, what is it with all this Phil Collins? Why can I not escape him on oldies radio?

   The website www.top40weekly.com ranks Collins as the 11th biggest recording act of the 80s.  Among solo artists, www.liveabout.com has him ranked second, behind only Michael Jackson. 

   Never realized he was that big. Guess I was too busy spinning the dial back then. 

   For those from the “if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all” school, here are the good things I have to say about Collins’ work. 

   I thought his cover of “You Can’t Hurry Love,” was just as good as the original by The Supremes. He brought the energy. The song itself is valuable because most of the world spends a lot of time trying to hurry love.  This is a bouncy tune that exposes that folly in a nice way.

   His duet with Philip Bailey of Earth Wind & Fire “Easy Lover” is infectious. It was nominated for a Grammy and won an MTV award in 1985. It’s one of my favorite songs of the 80s.

    I think Bailey’s was the larger contribution. But Bailey has a four-octave vocal range and he’s going to shine in a lot of settings.

   “That’s All,” has clever lyrics I think and the music upholds the mood of the song.

   That’s about it for me. I find songs that other people loved, such as “Against All Odds, (Take a look at Me),” “In The Air Tonight” and “One More Night,” as interminably long and draggy. Classic rock stations love to spin those, especially the first two. When they do, they send me elsewhere.

   I may or may not turn away from “Don’t Lose My Number” and “Sussudio.” The former moves a little bit. The latter does too, but mostly it says “Hello music fans, I’m not Prince!”

   It seems I am not alone in my dislike of Collins’ material. The internet is full of articles for and against him.  Here is part of a 2016 post from the website http://www.theaudiophileman.com:

   “He has amassed seven Grammys, two Golden Globes, an Oscar and 100 million album sales but it seems that the fashion of hating Phil Collins has continued unabated. There’s been a lot of stories written about Collins, most of which are untrue.”

   “His naivety does get in the way, though: allowing himself to be jetted across the Atlantic onboard a first class Concorde seat to play both Live Aid concerts in one day, while Africa suffered, was not clever. That he has produced a host of cheesy music is also unmistakable and that he was at the helm when (for many prog fans) the glory that was Peter Gabriel-era Genesis slowly took a nose dive with Collins at the wheel is a sad fact.”

   That story goes on to applaud his contributions to newer acts I am not familiar with.

   Because much of the Collins music is so tedious and overplayed, I don’t feel compelled to look deeply into the reasons why people love or hate him. 

   Phil Collins is one of the very last rockers quoted on the excellent Time/Life documentary “The History of Rock and Roll.”  The interviewer was asking people what they thought the history of rock and roll would be.

   “I have no idea what the future of rock and roll is, I have no idea,” Collins said. “Nor am I really interested.”

   So I’ll just let him sum it up that way, couldn’t have said it better myself. I don’t know and I don’t care.  Those who love him, those who hate him, make your case without me.

  I’m out, that’s all.

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