Why is the original track so special? Being 40 years old this year, ’In The Air Tonight’ has developed a substantial history throughout the decades and became one if not the most defining song of Phil Collins. The 1981 single was a curious piece of work because it was the first in line making Phil’s solo project memorable. The thumbnail of the videoclip itself has nostalgic vibes: with some modifications the cover of ’Face Value’ is invoked.
A legitimate question can surface: why is In The Air Tonight so popular? There are numerous singles, EPs and albums that can be connected to the 80s. It isn’t surprising that many radio channels still broadcast the titans of the past, also there are countless sites who dedicate themselves to these classics. Because all of this it means something if they highlight and praise a single from this era. In The Air Tonight was a massive success in multiple countires. In the United Kingdoms it took the second place on the UK Singles Chart. The only song that beat it to the first place was ’Woman’ after the death of John Lennon. In the United States it was placed 19th on the Billboard Hot 100. It achieved the first place in Austria, Netherlands, West Germany, Switzerland and Sweden. The song that made Phil Collins’ fame was loved by the musical audience because of two unforgettable components. One is the chorus which can easily stuck in our head and if we hear it, we instantly recognise the song itself. The other is something we all experience in life, some tracks are hard to find by their lyrics. I’m sure that we all know what it’s like to search for song because we remember some lines from it but we still end up finding nothing. Maybe after years by total coincidence. That’s why it was a good move to connect the refrain with the title. Also we have to include the drums too. Phil Collins isn’t just a singer and song-writer, he is a drummer too. It was a habit on their concerts, that Collins sang the lyrics only and then when the spotlight went to the drums he sat down and the thrill began. It may sound like an exaggeration but many think that the change at 3:16 had a huge impact on the younger generations and was a musical standard for the drummers. Beside the chorus and the drums we have to talk about the lyrics too because it’s a common theme they talk about in the US and sometimes in Europe too.
Phil Collins: In The Air Tonight
The lyrics’ backstory
Gossips about In The Air Tonight’s hidden meaning: In America it is a widely spread belief that In The Air Tonight is about a tragic event lived through by Phil Collins. It is about a drowned man’s demise and about another man who watched him drown and maybe he could help. Phil Collins was this man who saw someone drowning from afar so he couldn’t really save him. Naturally there are many alternatives, in some it isn’t a stranger but a friend to Collins, and he is in the water too crying for someone to help. Some individuals even claim that the person who failed to help gets shamed in the song. These ever creative theories gave a good background so that it became a widely spread activity to disect the lyrics. Even Family Guy has given a gig to In The Air Tonight.
Family Guy: Joe and Bonnie’s conversation about „In The Air Tonight” (english)
The urban legends that come to life inspired others apart from the creators of Family Guy, like the famous rapper Eminem. The lyrics of Stan refers to many things, including this myth too. Below you can read a segment which represents how In The Air Tonight stuck inside people’s mind:
What is the truth? It may be surprising that after the several guesses and gossips In The Air Tonight is a much simpler track then what we might first think. Reacting to the gossips Phil Collins said that he wrote this song spontaneously, and he himself doesn’t really know the exact message. He simply wrote off his feelings about his divorce. The anger, despair and frustration are the primal feeling we can experience through the vocal and lyrics. From this we can declare that the drowing man’s story is nothing more than a fantasy. Although we can’t refuse the fact that these unique interpretations added a lot to making this track a cult classic.
Our Sorrows – Save Me
Our Sorrows released ’Save Me’ in 2020 which opened new heights regarding their work. This isn’t surprising! The videoclip, the adaptation of the chorus and the molding of it to their style worked out. It isn’t just a tribute to Phil Collins’ hit song but a track that encourages us to keep going.
The mutual point – the chorus: Our Sorrows didn’t adapt the full lyrics of In The Air Tonight, they rather built on the track’s iconic chorus. Keeping the melodic vocal and refrain they managed to create a fantastic adaptation which has many differences from its predecessor. We’ve already talked about that in Phil Collins’ song there are two crucial elements. One is the chorus we are currently writing about, the other is the pioneer drumming, both can be considered the heart of the song. In ’Save Me’ the drum is enjoyable but it isn’t cardinal, but they kept the importance of the vocal and the chorus supported by the instrumentals. We only get a slice of In The Air Tonight but it can be said that this is the tastiest one.
Note: Because of the volume difference in In The Air Tonight and Save Me we recommend to keep a low volume in the video that shows chorus difference.
The essential differences – style, instrumentals and the narrative: In the case of ’Save Me’ it is unneccesary to compare. It’s undoubted that In The Air Tonight had a great influence on Our Sorrows single, but it holds its ground on its own. We don’t have to look to hard to notice the differences. In The Air Tonight is closer to pop rock style while Save Me has metalcore qualities. The guitar and the bass guitar are both fundamental parts of the music and the drums don’t have large role like in In The Air Tonight. The verses don’t follow Phil Collins’ song, the clean vocal is changed by dirty vocal thanks to the different genres. These changes aren’t bad at all because they can pass over the original track’s feelings completely. Although as we can see in Save Me’s videoclip they didn’t work with the same theme. In The Air Tonight is about the effects of divorce while Save Me is about the fight for long cherished dreams and to not give them up. Our Sorrows did manage to rise the stakes and doubled them! The clip itself contributes greatly to the enjoyment of the song, making it more than a simple single with ear-catching refrains.
What should you know about Our Sorrows? Our Sorrows is a metalcore band coming from Florida. They have only one album so far ’Anima//Animus’ which was released in 2019. The characteristic of their music and their goals are the same as with the other popular and underground metalcore bands, breaking the taboos. It’s a priority for them to represent themes like anxiety, depression, the everyday hardships, addictions, loneliness caused by isolation and the complicated situation of crime victims.
The actual members: Chris Tims (vocal), Kyle Kendall (guitar & vocal), Austin Delancey (bass) and Cameron Tims (drums)
by: Wolfy & Shadow