November 1984: Philip Bailey and Phil Collins' One-Time Collab, "Easy Lover”

(Jemal Countess/Getty Staff)
Photo Credit
(Jemal Countess/Getty Staff)

Release Date: November 1984 (US)

Peak Chart Position (US): #2

Peak Chart Position (UK): #1

The first single off the 1984 album Chinese Wall, "Easy Lover" was the beautiful brain child of Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire and Phil Collins. It made its debut in the U.S. in late 1984 and late February in 1985 in the U.K. 

Within three weeks, the song hit Billboard's Hot 100, reaching within Top 40, but it wasn't until mid-January that it shot towards the No. 2 spot on the chart, situated right behind Foreigner's "I Want To Know What Love Is." 

The song was an easy to love hit regardless, as it was certified gold, earned a Grammy nomination, and an MTV Video Music Award for Best Overall Performance in a Video . 

"That song doesn’t sound like any particular era. It’s just fantastic. The hip-hop brigade fell in love with me after ‘Easy Lover,’” Collins shared with Rolling Stones. “They were just like, ‘Where’d that come from? That ain’t black music and that ain’t white music. That’s kind of an interesting color of beige.” 

The music video itself is a fascination video...of the two Phils making the music video.

There’s a lot of things going on at the same time, it’s not a normal promo clip,” Phil Collins asserts in the opening seconds.

The original music video was playful, with scenes of a cheesy Collins and joyous Bailey (in a sweet sweatervest) that made for delightfully good and goofy energy, all things screamingly opposite from the sinister, spiny crime scene synced to the song that would ensue decades later. 

While the timeless feel of the song makes it less than surprising that the song would resurface 34 years later in the popular Netflix show The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Storyeven Collins could not possibly predict how disturbingly his description would ring true would be for the synced episode depicting a sadistic sexual encounter quickly escalating towards murder. 

In the TV series that spotlights the murder of designer Gianni Versace, Darren Criss (playing Andrew Cunanan) flits around the hotel room, arms flung high, dancing half-naked to both Phils’ harmonic fun-filled falsettos as his senior victim suffocates in agony. 

A shocking, if not ironic, image to acquaint with the 80’s ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ Collins, whose collaboration with Bailey was the opposite of dark and dooming. Rather, when Collins and Bailey partnered to create the magical number after a night of round-after-round jamming, the two created a timeless musical revelation. “Easy Lover” climbed charts in the US, UK, and Canada and became embedded into Collins’ own album compilations, including The Singles as well as his Serious Hits...Live!. 


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