I so desperately want to hate Phil Collins. I mean, duh, right? There's really nobody in the history of rock I should hate more, is there? Nobody more despicably commercially-minded, nobody more kind of icky and British-'cause-it's-cute and bald and horrible. Nobody who is more the exact antithesis of everything that's good and right and rebellious and angry and dark and cool about rock music. He is a black hole of hip -- he actually sucks OTHER musicians' hipness in with him. When he played with Led Zeppelin at Live Aid in '86 or whenever, he actually made THEM less hip. And they're a fucking bulletproof tiger. He's twenty-five shades of wrong, thirty-two fucking flavors of wrong. He's Phil Fucking Collins, motherfuckers, and he's a pariah non pareil.
Except -- my problem, folks, is that I can't. I just can't hate him. I've managed to fix my inability to hate Coldplay (that lyric about Roman Catholic choirs singing made me so physically ill I was on bed-rest for a week just to recover, and I'm glad Joe Satriani is suing them for it, 'cause they were askin' for it) but even WITH the soundtrack to Tarzan, I can't fix this. It's a problem.
Let's examine, for a moment, why, exactly:
1. He was in A Hard Day's Night and you weren't. Unfortunately, this automatically makes him cooler than you. Maybe not cooler than most other musicians of that era but definitely cooler than you. So that takes away the "high and mighty" defense, i.e. "I was in the Brian Jonestown Massacre for ten minutes so I'm cooler than Phil Collins." Were you in A Hard Day's Night? You weren't? Case closed.
2. Early Genesis was indisputably righteous. They may not have the cache they did back in the 70s, but even still, people will qualify their hatred of Genesis and Phil Collins with the phrase "...but they were good when Peter Gabriel was in them." And it's true, they were. And Phil's drumming plays no small part in that -- if they'd had a wimpy, tempo-less drummer like, say, a Carl Palmer, they'd have about 1/10th the power they did have. I mean, Steve Hackett ain't exactly Tony Iommi, so why'd they rock then? A: Phil Collins. Plus, dig his harmonies with Peter Gabriel -- they have the identical voice and there's times you can't tell who's singing what.
3. Early-late period Genesis is better than you think it is. I ain't talking about the just-post-Gabriel era of "Trick of the Tail" because frankly, without Gabriel, their prog-rock noodlings lacked, y'know, intellectualism and eccentricity, which is kinda why the group was good to begin with (well, that and Gabriel's foam-rubber costumes -- it was like watching the prog-rock Rock-A-Fire Explosion!). It's just lots of long noodly guitar solos. But there was a brief, shining moment when Phil's commercial leanings merged perfectly with the still-present progressiveness of the group AND the just-developing new wave influences of the early 80s. I'm talking about the Duke and Abacab albums, and a few surrounding singles.
Let me prove it to you:
4. You like "Against All Odds." You do. I mean, maybe you don't think you do, but I bet you really do. Flash back with me to the mid-80s -- that is, if you weren't, like, a zygote at the time. You're at a high school dance. That pretty cheerleader you've been eying is sitting over in the corner. You wanna dance with her, but they're playing Van Halen, and what's the good of that?? Suddenly "Against All Odds" comes on. Ah -- it's your in, my friend. You approach her. "Um -- care to, uh, dance?" you stammer. She looks coyly up at you, beautiful in her feathered hair and geometric-patterned dress. "Okay," she shrugs. Good enough. Phil Collins says: you're welcome.
5. There is at least one other Phil solo song you secretly like. Late at night, when nobody's home, you've got that one Phil Collins song on your iPod, and you play it, and maybe cry a little bit. Maybe it's "Sussudio," and you wonder, endlessly, what does it mean? Maybe it's "In The Air Tonight" -- did he watch that guy drown, or didn't he? For me, it's an obscure little low-level hit called "I Cannot Believe It's True," which has the power to take me RIGHT BACK to 1982, and my very first kiss with the lovely Eithne Daire. Sigh!
6. He is a good drummer.
Get past the minute and a half of Peter Gabriel pretending to mow the lawn, and listen to Phil's playing. He's solid like Bonham, but then fills like Bill Bruford, and he never ever ever gets in the smegging way, and he grooves. And any way, you probably haven't heard this song, so give it a go.
So end result: I hate Phil even less and maybe you do too. Or maybe you still feel a deep, abiding loathing for him, in which case only sixteen hours of Miami Vice will help you, and that isn't on YouTube.