The Story of... 'Against All Odds' by Phil Collins

18 August 2022, 13:57

Phil Collins - Against All Odds
Phil Collins - Against All Odds. Picture: Phil Collins/Atlantic

By Tom Eames

It's one of the most romantic power ballads of the 1980s.

Here's a history lesson on Phil Collins' classic 1984 worldwide hit 'Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)', from its inspiration, the movie it came from and its many cover versions.

  1. Who wrote 'Against All Odds'?

    Phil Collins in 1984
    Phil Collins in 1984. Picture: Getty

    Phil Collins was approached to write the title song to the film Against All Odds while it was still in a "rough cut form".

    At the time the soundtrack was being completed, Phil was still on tour with his band Genesis.

    Director Taylor Hackford flew to Chicago to see one of the band's concerts. Later, Phil watched the movie on a videocassette recorder in his hotel room, and agreed to appear on the soundtrack.

  2. What was the film 'Against All Odds'?

    Against all Odds (1984) ORIGINAL TRAILER [HD 1080p]

    Against All Odds is a 1984 romantic neo-noir thriller film, and a remake of 1947's Out of the Past (1947).

    It was directed by Taylor Hackford and starred Rachel Ward, Jeff Bridges and James Woods alongside Jane Greer (who had also starred in Out of the Past). The film revolves around an ageing American football star, who is hired by a mobster to find his girlfriend.

    The film's soundtrack also featured songs from Phil's Genesis bandmates Peter Gabriel and Mike Rutherford.

    'Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)' appears in the movie during the closing credits.

  3. What was the song inspired by?

    Phil Collins and his first wife Andrea Bertorelli in 1976
    Phil Collins and his first wife Andrea Bertorelli in 1976. Picture: Getty

    Originally titled 'How Can You Just Sit There?', the song was initially from Phil's sessions for his debut solo album Face Value in 1981.

    On episode 339 of the podcast This American Life, Phil said that the song was inspired and written shortly after the split between him and his first wife. He said that the divorce transformed him from being a musician into also being a lyricist.

    That song was written during my first divorce. My first wife and the kids had gone and I was left there. The song was written out of experience as opposed to a 'what if' song.

    - Phil Collins
  4. How big a hit was it at the time?

    Phil Collins "Against All Odds"

    The song peaked at number two in the UK in 1984. In the US, it peaked at number one, and stayed there for three weeks. It was also the fifth best-selling single of 1984 in the States.

    'Against All Odds' won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male in 1985.

    It was also nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe in the Best Original Song categories. At the Oscars, Phil was not invited to sing his song on stage, and instead sat in the audience as dancer Ann Reinking gave a lip-synced performance alongside a dance routine. Phil wasn't best pleased.

    Phil lost to the Stevie Wonder classic 'I Just Called to Say I Love You' at the 1985 Oscars.

  5. Who has covered 'Against All Odds'?

    Mariah Carey - Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now) (Official HD Video) ft. Westlife

    Many artists have covered it, most notably Mariah Carey on her Rainbow album in 2000. She later released a second version as a duet with boyband Westlife in the same year, reaching number one in the UK.

    In 2004, the very first winner of The X Factor, Steve Brookstein scored a number one with a cover version as his winner's single.

    Other covers include:
    - The Shadows
    - The Postal Service
    - Bonnie Tyler
    - Barry Manilow
    - Michael Ball