Phil Collins Scored His First No. 1 ‘Billboard’ Hot 100 Hit with “Against All Odds” 40 Years Ago

On April 21, 1984, 40 years ago, “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” became Phil Collins’ first single to reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The longtime Genesis singer/drummer wrote the power ballad for the soundtrack of the 1984 romantic thriller Against All Odds, which starred Jeff Bridges and Rachel Ward.

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“Against All Odds” spent three consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100, and was the first of seven Collins solo singles to top the chart.

[RELATED: 5 Artists Produced by Phil Collins During His Unstoppable ’80s Run]

Collins was on tour with Genesis in Chicago when director Taylor Hackford asked him to write a song for the Against All Odds film. Collins had written the music for the song that became “Against All Odds” while he was working on his 1981 solo debut, Face Value. Originally titled “How Can You Just Sit There?,” he shelved the tune at the time.

The song was among several he wrote at the time that were inspired by his divorce from his first wife, Andrea. The lyrics are sung from the perspective of a man hoping the woman who’d broken up with him would consider getting back together.

In a 2007 interview with the NPR radio show This American Life, Collins discussed how he came to write “Against All Odds.”

“That song … was written during my first divorce,” he explained. “My first wife and the kids had gone and I was just left there. So it was written totally out of experience, as opposed to [as] a ‘what if’ song.”

In the movie, “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” was played as the credits rolled. Hackford also directed a music video for the song, which featured footage of Collins singing in front of a wall of rain interspersed with scenes from the movie.

The Song Won a Grammy, Was Nominated for an Oscar

“Against All Odds” went on to win a Grammy in the Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male category in 1985, and also was nominated for Song of the Year. In addition, the tune was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe in the Best Original Song category. It lost out at both events to Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from The Woman in Red.

Collins Sang “Against All Odds” at Both Live Aid Concerts

On July 13, 1985, the star-studded Live Aid concert was held at Wembley Stadium in London and at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia. Collins joined Sting and Branford Marsalis to perform a set of tunes at Wembley Stadium, including “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now).”

He then got on a flight to Philadelphia and performed “Against All Odds” and another song at John F. Kennedy Stadium. He also played drums with the reunited Led Zeppelin at the latter event.

Two Cover Versions Were No. 1 Hits in the U.K.

Two different cover versions of “Against All Odds” went on to top the U.K. singles chart. In 2000, a duet rendition by Mariah Carey and the Irish pop group Westlife spent two weeks at No. 1. Then, in 2005, a cover by Steve Brookstein, a winner of the TV singing competition The X Factor, also went to the top of the chart.

Collins’ Other Hot 100 Chart-Toppers

As mentioned earlier, “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” was the first of seven No. 1 hits Collins had on the Billboard Hot 10, all during the 1980s. The others were “Sussudio” (1985); “One More Night” (1985); “Separate Lives,” a duet with Marilyn Martin (1985); “A Groovy Kind of Love” (1988); “Two Hearts” (1988); and “Another Day in Paradise” (1989). Collins also scored a No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 with Genesis in 1986, with “Invisible Touch.”

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