Tuesday, December 6, 2011

80's Guilt #01: Philip Bailey & Phil Collins "Easy Lover" (1984)

There's no reason to be ashamed about Philip Bailey. He sang in Earth Wind & Fire. His existence in the world of 80's pop is justified. For this reason, it's hard to completely dislike "Easy Lover," even though it's tainted by the vocals of Phil Collins, the uncoolest - and possibly the douchiest - rock star to ever exist.

Don't you just wanna wipe that smug-ass fucking smirk off his face and tell him to sit down and shut the fuck up?

The obvious argument that people could throw back at us is the song "In The Air Tonight," which is admittedly well-written, dark and weird, and includes one legit-awesome 5-second part where the drums enter after the third verse. If it were a brand new song, it would be one of the best songs of 2011. But it wasn't... It's from 1981, back when there were tons more great singles and albums getting released on a weekly basis. There was more competition to get music heard in those days... There was no world wide web, and musicians were hungrier. During that time, it was easier for a song like "In The Air Tonight" to be just another one of those awesome songs that was released a few weeks ago.

We also have a soft-spot for "Against All Odds," partially because it's his only earnest ballad, and partially due to our appreciation for songs that sound epic and gigantic even though they're only 3 minutes long. (Also see Chris Bell's "I Am The Cosmos.")

"Easy Lover" is the only other interesting thing Phil Collins has done. Sounding like the themesong to some forgotten early-80's cop-drama series, it presents several curious paradoxes not unlike Mr. Bigg's "To Be With You," our #1 in the "90's Guilt" mix. The intro has loud electronic drums crashing and a paranoid-sounding keyboard loop. Only two possible images could coincide that intro: A car chase, or flying helicopters. (The video director agreed.) The 80's-TV sound continues as they head right into the chorus and awesome EW&F-style falsetto on the verses. Thankfully, Philip Bailey appears way more often than Phil Collins, who seems to have been on his best behavior while singing the pre-chorus as soulfully as possible, within the confines of his limited vocal capacity. By the time it's over, it's surprising how easy it is to entirely overlook his presence, making this the last of his three good songs...

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