A rare political song for Genesis, "Land of Confusion" questions the wisdom of world leaders at a time when the US and Russia were enemies and there was a threat of nuclear war. Phil Collins called it, "A political song about the mess we have landed in."
Mike Rutherford, who wrote the lyric, added: "I've always shied away from doing what I call a preachy song, a protest song, but it seemed to work. Maybe because the music was quite angry it made it work." (From our interview with Rutherford.)
The very popular video was made using puppets created by Peter Fluck and Roger Law, who had a British TV series called The Spitting Image. The show would often make fun of Genesis, and by hiring their tormentors, the band proved that they could take a joke.
Genesis puppets had been used on the show before, but they made new ones for the video - not very flattering ones either. It was a way for the band to lighten their image from their days as earnest prog rockers. The video could go in the Cold War cultural time capsule: at the end, the Ronald Reagan puppet accidentally launches a nuclear missile.
Mike Rutherford called this "a kind of '80s protest song," adding, "It's about how we live in a very nice world, and what a mess we're making of it. How it should all be so easy and it's all so difficult."
The video won the 1987 Grammy for Best Concept Music Video - it was the only Grammy Genesis ever won, and they weren't even in the clip. At the MTV Video Music Awards, the video was nominated in six categories, but lost them all to Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer."
The video was produced by Paul Flattery and directed by Jim Yukich, who teamed up on most of the Genesis and Phil Collins videos of the time.
Yukich, an American, would watch The Spitting Image on his trips to England and loved the show. He got the idea to use the puppets in this video when he saw a Phil Collins parody on the show that made fun of his angst-ridden solo work.
Typical of Genesis during this era, the entire band - Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford - are the credited songwriters, as they all worked on the track.
By Genesis standards, this is an easy song to play. For this reason, it was used as the opener on their 1992 We Can't Dance tour. Tony Banks explained: "It's a simple song to play, easy to get the mix right, and it sounds good quite easily."
An inside joke in the video is Tony Banks playing a cash register - that was because he was always complaining about how expensive the videos were to make. And "Land Of Confusion" was very expensive - each puppet cost about $10,000.
This song is mentioned in the movie American Psycho. The lead character, Patrick Bateman, played by Christian Bale, calls this album their "Undisputed masterpiece," and praises this for "Questioning authoritative control." He then kills his coworker.
The hard rock group Disturbed covered this in 2006.
Suggestion credit: Brandon - Peoria, IL
For Mike Rutherford, the video seemed particularly relevant when Donald Trump took office as president of the United States. "Ever since Trump got in I hark back to that video," he told Songfacts in 2017. "The final scene is Reagan looking towards the wall behind his bed and there's two buttons, one saying 'nurse' and one saying 'nuke.' It's just kind of a strange time, isn't it? Some of it seemed very relevant."
Brian from Desmoines, IaI viewed it as the opposite of what Phil Collins imagined. I got sick of Carter, Khomeini, Qaddaffi, and the whole Evil Empire, so I joined the Army. I thought it was a call to arms in the Age of Reagan and the military of my generation would make it right.
Esskayess from Dallas, TxGood song marred by an asinine video.
Chris from Munich, GermanyIt has been covered theses days by the Norwegian Band Katzenjammer.
Karen from Manchester, NhMichael Jackson, Tina Turner, Sting, Pete Townsend, Hulk Hogan, Tammy Faye Bakker, Mick Jagger, Prince...those are just the ones off the top of my head that were portrayed in this video. That's not including Ayatolla Khomini & other political figures.
Punkgal from Leeds, United KingdomRock on song... never loses its talent
Dave from Red Lion, PaI really believe that this song is so true for today's times. With terrorism going rampant throughout the world and the country politically divided on the direction of the country, I think we are and have been living in the Land of Confusion for for the past decade.
Jesús from Champaign, IlLOVE THIS SONG!! I checked out the original after i heard the Disturbed one. btw, Adam from VA, they set a RECORD for how long their song "Inside the Fire" was on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks list, they were up there for 14 weeks. They obviously know what they're doing. Genesis has made an awesome song here, and Disturbed an awesome cover. i end with this -> (:
Jennifer Harris from Grand Blanc, MiThat's right The Late KIng of Pop's image was in that video. I loved that video. I loved it when the late Ronald Reagan puppet said,I could use another one of those,instead of hitting the nurse button,he hit the Nuke button.That's one heck of a nurse.
Farrah from Elon, NcTo Adam from Bryce, VA I absolutely, positively agree with you 100% This song definitely sounds better as a pop song. Besides, I don't particularly care for hard rock anyway.
Adam from Boyce, VaThe Hell with Disturbed! If you call them "hard" in the first place then you need to check yourself. This song sounds much better as a pop song. Maybe Disturbed should record something original to get a hit instead of ripping off Genesis and Tears For Fears....Phill Collins is the man! The guy had more Top 40 hits in the 80's than any other artist. Great Song!
Julia from Salt Lake City, UtOkay, Genesis, where are you NOW? If this was supposed to be a political commentary, it has NEVER been truer than the last several years. It isn't just a cold war thing, I was in HS when it came out, we were going to stand up and stop the incompetent, bloodsucking political machine that was suffocating us all. It is, again. So where are all you others that were going to stand up and make it a word worth living in. I'm here. I'm waiting.
Rory from Elgin, Ilyeah phil does look deformed. reminds me of Quato from Total Rekall (the Shchwarzenegger movie). i think most can agree, the Disturbed version is immensely superior. sorry, but i cant stand phil collins.
Joel from Capetown, South AfricaFunny video but great political message.
Jack from Claremont, MnI agree, Disturbed did a great cover, and I am a big fan of Disturbed, but you just can't beat originals. Although David Draiman sounds a whole scary lot like the Genesis lead singer in this song.
Matt from Milton, PaUm, I hate to say it, but this is the better version. I do like Disturbed's version, but I like this better. I'm a sucker for originals.
Liz from Douglass, Txgreat song, but disturbed's version is mucho...bettero...(not really a spanish word but you get the point)
Sally from South Orange, NjI agree; Disturbed's cover is better than the original song.
Hunter from Marshamellow, Vai like the disturbed version better
Logan from Troy, MtIs it me or are the members whispering "Deception" during the moments when Phil Collins isn't singing?
Roman Soiko from Plainsboro, NjThis song was written in the context of the cold war, yet it seems so poignant today.
Ahmendajnabad, Bashir, Mugabe, Bush, Blair, Jintao, Calderon, and how many other quasi-credible(if at all), are leading us into the canyon?
Fred from New York, NyI believe the music video also features a likeness of Michael Jackson.
Artemis from Aberdeen, Scotlandi dunno about the genesis one but the disturbed one rocks
Tim from Philadelphia, PaThe guitar solo in this is the same as in My Generation by the Who and it is acknowledged by the line, "My generation will put it right." The solo is the same beat at a different pitch.
But anyway this song is definitly a masterpiece.
Dee from Northfield, IlOk, I've heard the Genesis version, and I think I like the Disturbed version better.
Dee from Northfield, IlI haven't heard the Genesis version yet, but Disturbed did a pretty good job with it.
Luke from Manchester, EnglandDisturbed's cover of this song is practically the same apart from it's a little more "industrial" sounding.
Pete from Leeds, EnglandThe Grammy for the video was the only one Genesis ever won (Possibly the only award at all they ever won) and as they never tired off telling us in interviews after, they were not involved in the video at all, so the only award they ever won was for something that didn't involve them.
The video is great though, it can be found at Youtube
Steve from Torrance, CaThe theme of nuclear war was also addressed on the album's one longer piece, "Domino".
Amanda from Regina, CanadaThis song was recently redone very well by Disturbed.
Amay from Edison, NjAwesome song, but doesn't Phil look a little deformed in the video?
Sue from WonderlandHeavy metal band, Disturbed, do an interesting cover of this song on their album 10000 fists. Following the band's style, this song works quite well and is very different in every way to the cover, except for the lyrics.
Kent Lyle from Palo Alto, Ca"DC Follies" featured the puppets of Sid and Marty Kroft, and they were probably the U.S. equivalent of Spitting Image. Incidentally, the Kroft brothers were also responsible for "The Osmond Family Show" in the 1970s.
Luke from Manchester, EnglandSome stupid no-talent DJ has butchered this with a different title... Stupid no talent so called 'artists' ... Learn what music is - An art form and stop butchering art.
Linda from Norfolk, Va"Invisible Touch" just happened to be in my CD Player on September 11th. When I got in my car after the attacks, this song started playing and the lyrics really moved me. If you listen to it in reference to 9-11 it seems like it was written with that in mind.
Dorthe from Hobro, DenmarkHi Where - on the internet - can I find the video: Land of confusion with Genesis by Spitting Image? I hope someone can help! Dorthe
Chris from Hull, MaRemember the TV show DC Follies? Ford, Nixon, Carter, Reagan - puppets. This video was terrific...and it reminds me of that TV show.