Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)

Album: Hits (1984)
Charted: 2 1
Play Video


  • Director Taylor Hackford asked Collins to write a song for the film Against All Odds, so Collins went back to a song that didn't make it onto his Face Value album called "How Can You Sit There" and adapted it to fit the movie.

    Collins recalled to Mojo in 2015: "Against All Odds was written in the same misery that the rest of Face Value came from, but I wasn't drawn to it initially. I didn't like it as much as 'You Know What I Mean,' and I thought there was only room for one of those on the album. I don't know what would have happened to it if Taylor Hackford hadn't got in touch."
  • This was the first of seven US solo #1 hits for Collins, all of which charted in the '80s. He was still charting hits with Genesis during this time as well, including the #1 "Invisible Touch" in 1986. This resulted in a bit of Phil Collins fatigue and somewhat of a backlash in the '90s, when some critics and targeted him as a symbol of schlocky pop music. In a 2010 interview with Rolling Stone, Collins admitted that the criticism hurt, and said it contributed to some suicidal thoughts. In the article, he pointed out that he wasn't the one playing his songs over and over - he was just making the music. A few months later, Collins announced his retirement, but seemed to be in a better place, encouraged by the words of his fans that offered support. Wrote Collins: "I am stopping so I can be a full time father to my two young sons on a daily basis."
  • In a 2007 story on the National Public Radio show This American Life, Phil Collins explained how he did not write songs with Genesis, but was motivated to write solo material to deal with the pain of his personal life. Said Collins: "That song was written during my first divorce. My first wife and the kids had gone and I was left there. The song was written out of experience as opposed to a 'what if' song. If that personal stuff had not happened to me at the time, I probably would never have made an album, and if I was to have made an album eventually, it probably would have been a jazz/rock thing. Without that stuff I wouldn't have felt the stuff I felt sitting at a piano night after night, day after day writing stuff."
  • This won Collins the 1984 Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance. It was nominated for a Best Original Song Oscar, but lost to "I Just Called To Say I Love You." Collins did win the award in 1999 for "You'll Be In My Heart," which he wrote for Tarzan.
  • In the UK, two cover versions were #1 hits, first a duet by Westlife and Mariah Carey, then a version by Steve Brookstein, who won the TV talent show X Factor and released it as his first single. "Lady Marmalade" is the only other song in the rock era to accomplish this feat.
  • Collins had about 10 million good reasons to adapt this song for the film. Reflecting on the decision in 2016, he told Rolling Stone, "It was basically like saying, 'Here's $10 million. Would you want it?' I had already written the lyrics, before I saw the film. When I think about the movie, the first thing that comes to mind is the size of Rachel Ward's breasts. I thought they were fantastic. I like Jeff Bridges, too."
  • Mark Feehily of Westlife told female first that one of the highlights so far of his career was working on their version of this song with Mariah Carey. He explained: Over the years we've spent quite a bit of time with her - not a lot of time, I don't want to exaggerate - but if I was to tell my 10 to 15 year old self that I was to meet her, never mind collaborate with her and hang out with her at her house, I think I would have literally crumbled into ash on the floor to be honest. She was really really friendly and there was no sort of power thing going on where she was like 'I'm Mariah and your Westlife and you're lucky to be here' sort of thing. It was a lot of hanging out and going for dinner and being mates. I mean we weren't liking up to her and in a world where she is surrounded by people that lick up to her and brown nose her I don't know if she just thought it was nice to have a genuine time hanging out with a bunch of lads or whatever.
  • Against All Odds director Taylor Hackford also helmed the music video, which has Collins performing in front of a wall of rainwater that alternates colors to represent the characters and introduce scenes from the movie.
  • Taylor Hackford later complained that Phil Collins seemed intent on singing "against the odds" instead of "all." Collins explained: "It just tripped off the tongue easier."

Comments: 25

  • Stephen Sacayanan from Davao CityThe piano and bass made up the songs emotions. Does anyone know who played the bass and piano on the recording of the aong ?
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, Mn Along with Sussudio, Against All Odds is one of my all-time favorite Phil Collins songs. He wrote the song after he went through a divorce and to me, it's a song who has experienced a loss in their lives can identify with. Whether it's a divorce or death, Collins puts his feelings into the song and the line "Take a look at me now" best describes the image of heartbreak and loss. Personally, it's a song I can relate to since on January 9, 2019, my longtime girlfriend Julia passed away from bile duct cancer and though some parts don't relate to the tragedy, the line "there's just an empty space" is the description of a hole in my life after her passing. An 80s classic.
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenThe song "You Know What I Mean" (mentioned above) was released on Frida (ABBA) Lyngstad's terrific solo album "Something's Going On," which Collins produced and played drums on. He also sang a duet with her on the final track ("Here We'll Stay"). Frida did a great job on "You Know What I Mean."
  • Siahara Shyne Carter from United StatesThat's why his voice sounds familiar, This was also his song! I knew it. ;)
  • Andrea from Australia OMG!!! Such a sad sad song I feel guilty for loving it so much. It always makes me cry. Knowing this man has lost the love of his life is so sad but Phil Collins sings it with such emotion, and I ALWAYS end up crying
  • Markantney from BiloxeMay 18,

    How Great is this song? It almost saved that dumb movie when it's played at the end:):). Great, Great,
  • Eduardo Hdz. from MexicoThe perfect track to hold on to when you lost someone; not only a lover, could be your mother, your brother, your friend or even your dog. This song makes you feel like taking a chance to beat the odds and reach to that person at least on an emotional level. Thank you for making us believe Phil.?

    What I love about the lyric is how realistic and straight it is. There's no easy and cliché phrases. Instead of saying: "I love you", he says: "You're the only one who really knew me at all". Much deeper meaning, doesn't it? I never thought of the "empty space" as what he feels inside, I think he refers to actually the empty space you see around a person who is alone. "And you coming back to me is against the odds, and that's what I've got to face", see? No corny lines involved again. Probably my favorite part of the track is the second verse. The backing vocals are amazing. I'm hooked on the phrase: "There's so much I need to say to you", it's fantastic; just think about it, how many things we keep inside when we lost someone? how many things come to mind just after that person is gone? Many, many things we have to keep to ourselves trying not to be hurt constantly by them. "But to wait for you is all I can do and that's what I've got to face", yeah, there's nothing we can do but have faith in a possibility to be together again. "Take a good look at me now, 'cause I'll still be standing here". A realistic touch again, 'cause no matter who left us, we still have to live on, and that's the hardest part. We'll still be here, missing someone, but here, alive. "And you coming back to me is against all odds, it's the chance I've got to take", kinda happy ending for the song, you just need to feel the hope that somehow it all can be like it was when he/she was here.
  • Shandroise De Laeken from Davao City, PhilippinesI agree much with the comments of everyone here who said why this song is superbly brilliant. This is Phil Collins' greatest song in my opinion. I don't think the covers of this will ever match his original. Even when I was younger and didn't understand what this song meant, I can already feel that there is something deep inside him where he pulls out the emotions he expresses in his voice throughout this song. When I finally understood the meaning of this song, the more I appreciated it, and I always do. This is one very genuinely heartfelt singing. Knowing now what made him write this makes me pity him. His first wife hurt him a lot. She inspired him to write many songs. Didn't she feel anything when she heard his songs for her overplayed in the radio?

    This is also soo great to sing in the house when alone so that no one can hear whenever your voice cracks in the emotionally screamed last lines! I also love the quiet ending, the pleading... "Take a look at me now~" This song is truly awesome!! Classic!!
  • Terry from Grafon, WiThis song is heartbreaking. How many of us have been there? You get hurt, and you just want them to turn around and see you cry, see what they've done to you. But somehow, you rise above the ashes and you want them to take a look at you now. It's truly powerful.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhThe way this song is written easily lends itself to a visual picture of what the words are saying. Most of us have walked in this person's shoes, asking, begging for that other person to "take a look at me now." Great song.
  • Megan from Stevenson, AlThis is my all time favorite song of Phil Collins. He's an amazing artist! I love the way he screams the lyrics at the end. :) Mmmmm....
  • Jim from Long Beach, CaGreat song. Reminds me about the time I was seeing two girls at the same time,just like the female character in the movie. what did I know I was 20 and thought I knew it all(typical right?..LOL!!)..Anyways this song always brings me back to that time....Just saw the movie the other night, It wasn't as good as i liked it back then..go figure..
  • Brian from Boston, MaThe thing I remember most about this song is that it was nominated for an academy award and it lost to a Stevie Wonder song I think it was I just called to say I love you.Are you kidding me? no seriously are you kidding me?
  • Aimee from Renton, WaThis song was originally titled "How Can You Just Sit There?" and was from the sessions for his debut album Face Value (1981).

    Barry Manilow has also covered this song.
  • Jeff from Casa Grande, AzWhen Phil says, "take a look at me," he says afterwards one of two lines. He talks alot about there being nothing but an empty space. But, once, at the end, he says "I'll still be standing here."
    What a statement for "hope." He can't let go. What a statement of "devotion." His feelings aren't going anywhere. My god, I can feel the desperation in his words and voice and music. His cry for help. Magnanimous! Spot on drums. Copacetic piano playing. A unique capturing of a broken heart. But, of all that, the single line he repeats is incredibly powerful; and that is "you're the only one who really knew me at all." He's lost a friend. And, there's nothing he can do to stop her from going away. Except to wait . . . One of the Greatest songs of all time.
  • Aubrey from Pittsburgh, PaThe Postal Service also does a cover of this song on the Wicker Park Soundtrack.
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdActually the reason Phil Collins didn't perform at the Oscars was because the writers and producers (including Gregory Peck) had never heard of him. They allowed Christopher Cross to perform "Arthur's Theme" though...
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdI don't think that rule is true. Christopher Cross sang "Arthur's Theme" (Best That You Can Do) at the Oscars. Two years later Peter Cetera sang it.
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdNot only did Ann Reinking sing Against All Odds but Debbie Allen did Footloose! I just wanted to let you know. Actually the reason he didn't sing it was because the producers (including Gregory Peck) and writer Larry Gelbart never heard of him.
  • Kate from Wakefield, MaI'm not much of a Phil Collins fan, but I love this song. It's quite lovely, but sad too.
  • Vaibhav from Shahjahanpurthis is one of my all time favourites. specially the starting music of the song is the real delight and of course who can forget the unmatchable singing of collins.
  • Jason from Dublin, Irelandi know too many people criticise and unfortunately for them hate phil collins but this song proves phil collins is one of the greatest singers and songwriters of all time and i believe this song is considered by many as a classic and will always be considered so. how many of his haters they can say they created a classic piece of art?
  • Garrett from Nashville, TnThe best/worst part of the Oscar fiasco was that they kept showing Phil Collins in the audience, who was visibly wincing at the way Reinking was demolishing his song.
    Good TV.
  • David from Los Angeles, CaNominated for Best Song at the 1984 Academy Awards. Phil Collins was not permitted to sing it at the awards ceremony because at the time, the Academy rules required that the award show performers had to work in the movies. Ann Reinking sang the song and performed the accompanying dance. She's a perfectly good dancer, but her singing was so awful it caused a huge uproar and the rule was eventually changed. Thus, in 1993, Bruce Springsteen sang "Philadelphia" at the awards show and won the Oscar that night.
  • Andy from Arlington, VaThis song is great. The movie, not so much.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Roger McGuinn of The Byrds

Roger McGuinn of The ByrdsSongwriter Interviews

Roger reveals the songwriting formula Clive Davis told him, and if "Eight Miles High" is really about drugs.

Dean Pitchford

Dean PitchfordSongwriter Interviews

Dean wrote the screenplay and lyrics to all the songs in Footloose. His other hits include "Fame" and "All The Man That I Need."

Judas Priest

Judas PriestSongwriter Interviews

Rob Halford, Richie Faulkner and Glenn Tipton talk twin guitar harmonies and explain how they create songs in Judas Priest.

Julian Lennon

Julian LennonSongwriter Interviews

Julian tells the stories behind his hits "Valotte" and "Too Late for Goodbyes," and fills us in on his many non-musical pursuits. Also: what MTV meant to his career.

Eric Clapton

Eric ClaptonFact or Fiction

Did Eric Clapton really write "Cocaine" while on cocaine? This question and more in the Clapton edition of Fact or Fiction.

Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes

Chris Robinson of The Black CrowesSongwriter Interviews

"Great songwriters don't necessarily have hit songs," says Chris. He's written a bunch, but his fans are more interested in the intricate jams.