First Hit #1: July 6, 1985
Phil Collins doesn’t look much like a pop star. A slightly doughy man with a quickly receding hairline, he looks like the dad of a pop star. But he definitely sounds like a pop star, for better or worse in the case of Sussudio. This isn’t a song that was meant to endure, it’s a flash of dance music with silly lyrics but a great beat. It’s whole hog into the current trends – vaguely tribal rhythms, lots of horns, synthesizers everywhere – and it owes a bit of a debt to Prince. More than anything, it sounds like an attempt to write a hit, to capture what the kids were buying and dancing to. It’s transparent in its aims, but it also works anyway. It’s a hit written by people who know what makes a hit, and even if we’re looking at something a bit mercenary it does succeed.
Plus, given that Collins could never pull off a big flashy visual presence like a Prince or even a Cyndi Lauper, it makes it sort of easier to accept this naked attempt at scoring some sales. It doesn’t seem so blatant if he just looks like someone’s dad.