Phil Collins in popular culture #2

Collins with one of Bone Thugs N Harmony, yesterday

One of the oddest phenomenons in recent years must surely be the steepling regard with which fax-machine toting, MOR baldie Phil Collins is held in the higher echelons of the ‘urban music’ world. As Collins has himself recently intoned darkly (in the Daily Mail):

“The greatest surprise for me is how some of my songs have had this amazing afterlife.”

Back in 2001, ‘urban music”s front-benchers (and Ray J) clubbed together to release an a tribute album to Collins entitled Urban Renewal (also, incidentally, the name of a destructive housing process which in mid-20C America led to the ghettoization in slums of thousands of African-Americans, and was dubbed by eminent writer James Baldwin as “negro removal” – nice work guys!).

From Urban Renewal, then, for your inevitable nonplussment*, is late rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard applying his concentration skills to a cover of Collins’ 1985 doggerel-infused wank fantasy ‘Sussudio’.  To maximize your enjoyment of this audio debacle, I find it helps to imagine Bastard fast asleep at the mixing desk, and waking with a start every time he has to deliver his lines. The most disappointing thing about the whole endeavour is how month-old-lettuce limp it all is.  It had the potential to be a car crash of epic proportions; instead it swings by in a desultory manner, propelled by a set of standard issue New Jack beats, non-sexy diva vocals, and a pathetically slim, inoffensive deployment of everyone’s favourite vocal aid: autotune.

One year later, Collins teamed up with Bone Thugs N Harmony (go on, read that sentence back to yourself) to re-heat his song ‘Take Me Home’. The video (below), which redefines bizarre, sees a black-clad Collins variously skulking around an unfamiliar environment wearing the expression of a smug, yet confused man who has just shat himself, and larking about with (yet unable to disguise his palpable fear of) BTNH. The torpor is only broken in the chorus, when Collins seems to be plaintively demanding that his servants fix his train ticket and get him away from these men. Genuinely, genuinely weird.

*made-up word.

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