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Phil Collins - In The Air Tonight (1981)

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  • 80's Score80's Score80's Score 80's score: 2.53
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

"In the Air Tonight" is the debut solo single by the English drummer and singer-songwriter Phil Collins. It was released as ...

"In the Air Tonight" is the debut solo single by the English drummer and singer-songwriter Phil Collins. It was released as the lead single from Collins's debut solo album, Face Value, in January 1981.

Collins co-produced the single with Hugh Padgham, who became a frequent collaborator in the following years. The song climbed to No. 2 on the UK Singles chart, but was held off the top spot by the posthumous release of John Lennon's "Woman". It reached No. 1 in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Sweden, and the top 10 in Australia, New Zealand and several other European territories. It peaked at No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, but reached No. 2 on the Rock Tracks Chart, later being certified Gold by the RIAA, representing 500,000 copies sold. The song's music video, directed by Stuart Orme, received heavy play on MTV when the new cable music video channel launched in August 1981.

"In the Air Tonight" remains one of Collins' best-known hits, often cited as his signature song, and is especially famous for its drum break towards the end, which has been described as "the sleekest, most melodramatic drum break in history" and one of the "101 Greatest Drumming Moments". The song was ranked at number 35 on VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the 80s" in 2006. In 2007, Mike Gruss, former columnist for The Virginian-Pilot, referred to the song as a "soft rock classic."

Music video

The music video (directed by Stuart Orme) animates the photograph of Collins's face from the cover of the Face Value album, slowly fading in through the introduction until it fills the screen, singing the first chorus. The video then cuts to Collins sitting in an empty room at night. Twice a spectral figure appears in the window, but only the second time does Collins get up to look at it, then is shown walking to the one door of the room.

Collins's face returns for the second chorus. He is then shown leaving the room and entering a hallway full of doors. The first one is locked, then the second opens and Collins sees himself looking at the window again, only now the spectre has turned into his own reflection.

The third door is locked, but as the fourth one opens, the drum break sounds and the viewer is returned to Collins's face again, this time in thermal coloring, which gradually reverts to black and white. Collins recedes into the darkness as the song repeats and fades.

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