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Phil Collins Greatest Hits: 14 Top Tracks, Ranked

The drummer sure banged out a slew of great tunes throughout his solo career!


Has Phil Collins gone country? Well, sort of. The award-winning former Genesis frontman has just gone No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay charts thanks to his drum-tastic “In the Air Tonight” being interpolated in Kane Brown’s chart-topping “I Can Feel It,” on which Phil is credited as a songwriter. Kane’s song — and current I Can Feel It Tour — both pay homage, of course, to the line immediately preceding “in the air tonight” on one of Phil Collins greatest hits.

“I wanted Phil Collins to come out on stage with me, I thought it would be cool,” Kane told Taste of Country about playing 2023’s Stagecoach festival. Even though the 80s pop legend couldn’t make it, he did give his blessing to Kane to use one of Phil Collins greatest hits for inspiration. “I ended up just writing to his song.… We were sampling that big drum fill,” Kane revealed, and it’s proven to be a drum solo that continues to stand the test of time.

Phil Collins playing the drums
Phil Collins (1997) Paul Bergen / Contributor / Getty

“We used to call it the face-hugger sound,” Phil told Dan Rather about drawing the listener in “and then suddenly punching them in the face” with the aggressive percussion, likening it to the how the creature in Alien would latch on to its victims. That bit from “In the Air Tonight” has gone on to be featured in shows like Miami Vice, movies like The Hangover, and even in a commercial for Cadbury chocolates, Phil added. “The song has just gone on and on and on.”

Its success, however, does have a slight downside. “You’re judged by that,” Phil explained to Rather. “Everybody says, ‘Why don’t you write songs like that anymore?’ [But] you … can only write it once. I can’t ever use that drum machine again, and I can’t ever have that sound, really, because everyone says you’re imitating what you did [already]. So it’s kind of nailing your foot to the floor. ‘Oh, dear. What do I do now?’”

His fans know, though, that his well of hits is far deeper than just that one song. The seated front man and drummer for Genesis — a band he joined when he was just 19 — has enjoyed decades of chart success spanning throughout 15 albums with that band. The eight-time Grammy winner also scored big as a solo artist, even picking up an Oscar for Best Song thanks to “You’ll Be in My Heart” from Disney’s Tarzan.

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Man and daughter smiling
Phil Collins and Lily Collins (2009) Stephen Lovekin / Staff / Getty

Another “hit” he’s played a part in producing is daughter Lily Collins, the star of Netflix’s Emily in Paris. “It’s kind of funny, [my dad] told me he got a kick out of the fact there was a radio station playing his music and they said afterward, ‘For those of you who don’t know who that is, that’s Lily Collins’ dad,’” the actress shared with a laugh during an interview in 2016. “And he was like, ‘What world are we living in? This is great. You’re, like, getting up there.’”

Sadly, health issues — including a spinal injury and surgery — have kept the now 73-year-old musician off the road and with limited mobility. “I’ll never play the way I used to,” he admitted in a press conference a decade ago, noting that playing drums since the age of 5 had taken a toll on him. “I’d like to have the choice about being able to play,” he added, “but I’m not going to cry myself to sleep about it.”

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Phil Collins holding a mic
Phil Collins (2017)Brian Rasic / Contributor / Getty

He similarly didn’t cry when, at times, he fell out of favor with some in the media. “I think, with some critics, I became synonymous with an era of music that they didn’t like, and they were suspicious of all success,” he told the New York Times in 2016. “You end up painted into a corner that it’s impossible to get out of. I don’t lie awake and think about this, but I withdrew in 2005, and I think I was quite honest about why: I wanted to write myself out of the script.”

With his 2016 memoir, Not Dead Yet and the reissuing of his entire collection around the same time, plus “guest spots” on hits like Kane Brown’s, Phil is far from being written off by music lovers worldwide. Here, we take a look at 14 of Phil Collins greatest hits from his solo years.

14. “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven” (1990)

As the song says, “you can run but you can’t hide” from the effervescent vibe of this fun track, one of Phil Collins greatest hits and a No. 4 charter. Plus, the video features an adorable daydreaming dog that eventually gets to play drums with the band. Irresistible!

13. “Two Hearts” (1988): Phil Collins greatest hits

Phil partnered with famed Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier to pen this song for the soundtrack of Buster, which featured the drummer in his film debut alongside Julie Walters. The comedy-drama found him playing one of the thieves involved in 1963’s Great Train Robbery, and he sure stole the hearts of listeners with this winner, which spent two weeks at No. 1. It also won him a Grammy for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television.

12. “Don’t Lose My Number” (1985)

More trademark drumming from Phil punctuated this catchy tune, which was a No. 4 hit. The artist has spoken about how the lyrics were pretty much improvised and don’t really mean anything, but that doesn’t dim its appeal to fans of its classic 80s sound.

11. “I Wish It Would Rain Down” (1990): Phil Collins greatest hits

“When I wrote ‘I Wish It Would Rain Down,’ it was as close as I get to the blues, I felt,” Phil shared in a 1989 promo interview about this No. 3 charter. And that gave him the idea of recruiting Eric Clapton to play guitar on it —  and appear in its video! “I said … Come on, I’ve got a song right up your street.’ … I just knew that he’d wail away on it and he came down here and did. It was great.” And it still is.

10. “A Groovy Kind of Love” (1988)

The artist reinterpreted this 1965 song co-written by famed songwriter Carole Bayer Sager and Toni Wine for his film Buster. The sweet lyrics to the ballad “bask simplistically in the contentment of new love,” as Stereogum notes, and listeners were more than smitten with the result: It held on to the No. 1 position for two weeks.

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9. “Separate Lives” (1985): Phil Collins greatest hits

Marilyn Martin duets with Phil on this power ballad from the Gregory HinesMikhail Baryshnikov film White Nights. “Phil’s vocal was completely mesmerizing, and the thought of replacing even a word with my voice to create a duet was incredibly intimidating,” she states in the book Playing Back the ‘80s: A Decade of Unstoppable Hits, noting the song was originally meant to be his own. Luckily, her vocals added another dimension to the track, and it became a No. 1 smash.

8. “Sussudio” (1985)

S-s-sussdio. Yeah, good luck not getting this earwormy No. 1 stuck in your head all day! Though he’s distanced himself from this hit in interviews (noting that the synthy song was programmed entirely by the System’s Dave Frank), he did tell Rolling Stone that “there’s a killer horn section,” which just ups the infectious power of the popular track.

7. “Easy Lover” (1984): Phil Collins greatest hits

Earth, Wind and Fire’s Philip Bailey warms up this No. 2 hit duet with Phil, which boasted a humorous video that was in high rotation on MTV back in the day. It featured the dynamic duo cracking each other up and entertaining viewers as well. In 2016, Phil performed it with Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr. at New York City’s U.S. Open tennis tournament.

6. “I Don’t Care Anymore” (1983)

The drummer has admitted that due to a bitter divorce at the time, he was in an “I’m going to kick this fu—er to bits” state of mind when he wrote and recorded this moody track. His frustration can clearly be felt on this early solo effort — for better or for worse — through his angry drum beating and blunt lyrics: “Well you can tell everyone I’m a down disgrace / Drag my name all over the place / I don’t care anymore.” Ouch.

5. “One More Night” (1985): Phil Collins greatest hits

“I was thinking of one of the Jacksons’ songs actually when I strung a chorus on it,” Phil told Playboy of writing this No. 1 hit. “The line ‘one more night’ just fit what I was playing. The rest of the song was written very quickly,” he added of this perfect, plaintive ballad that’s pretty much the polar opposite of “I Don’t Care Anymore” in most every way.

4. “Take Me Home” (1986)

In a VH1 Storytellers episode, Phil explained how this “darker song” was written from the perspective of someone in a mental asylum, a la One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Its official video, he added, was more optimistic and about someone simply longing to return home. Either way, the top 10 hit has resonated with a diverse list of other creatives, from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (Phil appears with them in the video for 2002’s “Home,” their alternative hip-hop song inspired by his original) to comedian Jenny Slate, who brilliantly showcased the song in the emotional 2021 trailer for her stop-motion animated film Marcel the Shell With Shoes On.

3. “Another Day in Paradise” (1999): Phil Collins greatest hits

“This is one I got a lot of flak for because I’m a multimillionaire,” Phil admitted to Rolling Stone, and he was indeed accused by other artists and journalists of exploiting the homelessness epidemic. Still, audiences really responded to the song and its message, and it spent four weeks at No. 1 — the longest any of his No. 1s topped the charts here in the U.S. And, as The Standard reported, “It was adopted by charities, and when he played it at his gigs, collection buckets were passed around and the sum raised was matched from his pocket.”

2. “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” (1984)

This ultimate power ballad is from the film of the same title, starring Rachel Ward and Jeff Bridges. It spent three weeks at No. 1, and it also won the artist Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, honors at the Grammys. It also reaped plenty of nominations, including Best Original Song at both the Oscars and the Golden Globes.

1. “In the Air Tonight” (1981): Phil Collins greatest hits

Though it only peaked at No. 19 on the U.S. charts, this song is hard to beat on a list of Phil Collins greatest hits. “I wrote it after my [first] wife [Andrea Bertorelli] left me,” he told Rolling Stone. “There’s a lot of anger, a lot of despair and a lot of frustration” in the song, written in “D-minor, the saddest [key] of all,” he added. This classic has such a mysterious … dare we say “air” about it? … that it even developed its own highly dramatic urban legend through the years (which has been thoroughly debunked by Snopes).

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