Roughly six years ago some schmuck on the Internet asked if it wasn’t time to give Phil Collins his cool card. “The horror that was ‘Another Day in Paradise,” he noted, had long since faded from memory. Yes, he admitted, there was “a ton of treacly bullshit in the catalogue,” but insisted that many of the songs actually merited “classic” status. (“Easy Lover,” “Take Me Home” and “Billy Don’t Lose My Number” were three of the examples he cited, singling out that last one as one of the greatest videos ever. “Collins actually had a shockingly high batting average when it came to videos,” averred this self-appointed expert.) Shouldn’t someone, he inquired, “start a groundswell to put Phil on the pedestal he deserves?” Well, not too long after that the Republicans finally succeeded in breaking America, and people got busy with other stuff like finding jobs and surviving, but you can’t keep a good idea down forever and it turns out that the Collins renaissance has finally arrived.
An increasing number of top-line pop stars, from Beyoncé to Lorde to Alicia Keys, have been drawing on Collins’ work with clear and present awe. That, in turn, has caused more critics to favorably reference the “Sussudio” star. The overhaul began in 2009 with Keys’ hit album “The Element of Freedom.”… This year, the love spread to the “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” soundtrack. A hazy and self-serious echo envelopes the entire record, bringing to mind nothing so much as the shrouded sound, and production gauze, of Collins mainstays like “Against All Odds” and “One More Night.” The album’s single — “Atlas,” by Coldplay — re-created the ambience of those songs so precisely, a Rolling Stone critic implored Collins to come out of his recent, self-imposed retirement to join the “Hunger Games” age. “Come back, Phil,” wrote Rob Sheffield. “District 12 needs you.” Beyoncé implicitly seconded that emotion in December. She wrapped her new album in an oozing sound that re-created, in detail, the sonic melodrama of vintage Phil.
And then there’s this. Grit your teeth or clench your fists, haters, but it doesn’t matter: Everything’s coming up Collins. Let’s just hope no one tries to rekindle the magic of Mike + The Mechanics, because that is a hill I will die on.