Happy Birthday Phil Collins: Celebrating the Genesis Rocker’s 71 Years

by Lauren Boisvert

Millennials know Phil Collins as the guy who wrote the “Tarzan” soundtrack, but he’s really been a powerhouse in prog-rock since the mid-60s. He’s a significant member of the band Genesis, which also featured Peter Gabriel and Mike Rutherford. Today is his birthday, so let’s take a stroll down memory lane and talk about some of his best songs.

In the Air Tonight is a pivotal song; that slow intro the epic drums, the ominous echo. It’s everything. It’s a staple in my karaoke repertoire, the majority of which is Phil Collins songs. This song builds and builds until it explodes; it’s the repetition in the lyrics and experimental synth that puts “In the Air Tonight” above all others.

You Can’t Hurry Love is another classic jam, and with Valentine’s Day coming up, I’m sure it’ll be on playlists and grocery store loudspeakers everywhere. It’s admittedly a little cheesy, but it’s fun; the beat is lively and makes you want to dance with someone you love. It’s not the best song ever, but it’s sentimental, and sometimes all you need is a silly little love song.

Invisible Touch, Land of Confusion, and Tonight, Tonight, Tonight from the Genesis album “Invisible Touch” run the gamut of the whole album. Firmly marrying the prog-rock and pop sides of the band, “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” is equal parts eerie and hopeful. “Invisible Touch” features some great drums and expert synth, and the chorus is so damn catchy. “Land of Confusion,” meanwhile, continues to be topical 36 years after it was written. While some die-hard Genesis fans look down on “Invisible Touch” for its catchiness, I think that entire album is just gold, no bones about it.

Phil Collins’ Greatest Hits in Honor of his Birthday

Abacab explodes through the speakers with in-your-face synth and a steady drumbeat that resonates. It’s bold, and loud, and exciting. It’s also nonsensical and eclectic, much like the band itself. But that’s what put Genesis on the map; Collins’ drums and unique vocals, Tony Banks’ synths, and just a dash of guitar.

Eleventh Earl of Mar is a sprawling 7-minute masterpiece from Phil Collins’ early days as Genesis front-man. It’s experimental and fantastical, and the lyrics don’t make much sense. But, they’re about a 1715 Jacobite uprising, and John Erskine, eleventh Earl of Mar. The song depicts the failed Scottish uprising in a multi-part epic, which features organ, classical guitar, and changing time signatures.

Follow Me Follow You is firmly a love song, Genesis’ first. There’s funky bass and synths culminating in a head-bobbing, toe-tapping, teary-eyed chorus. It tugs on the heartstrings and is actually great for a wedding if you want your first dance to be an all-out jam session.

All in all, Phil Collins had many more hits than just these, but, honestly, I’m biased; these are my favorites. Celebrate Phil Collins with us by sharing your favorite songs and albums.