Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)

"Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)"
Single by Phil Collins
from the album Against All Odds: Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
B-side "The Search"
Released February 1984 (US)
26 March 1984[1] (UK)
Format 7" single
12" single
CD single
Digital download
Reel single
Recorded 1983
Length 3:23
Label Atlantic
Writer(s) Phil Collins
Producer(s) Arif Mardin
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Phil Collins singles chronology
"Like China"
"Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)"
"Easy Lover"

"Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" (also titled "Against All Odds") is a song by English drummer, singer and songwriter Phil Collins. It was recorded for the soundtrack to the 1984 film of the same name. It is a power ballad in which its protagonist implores an ex-lover to "take a look at me now", knowing that reconciliation is "against all odds" while considering it worth trying. The single reached number two in the United Kingdom, while it peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, the first of seven US number ones for Collins in his solo career.[4]

The song has been covered by several singers, some versions of which have been successful in both the US and UK markets. The song has twice reached number one in the UK singles chart: the pairing of Mariah Carey and boyband Westlife, in September 2000,[5] and then again by Steve Brookstein, the first winner of The X Factor, in January 2005.[6]

Phil Collins version

Background and writing

Collins was approached to write the title song to the film Against All Odds while it was still in its "rough cut form".[7] At the time the soundtrack was being completed, Collins was on tour with Genesis. Director Taylor Hackford flew in to Chicago to see one of the band's concerts. Collins watched the movie on a videocassette recorder in his hotel room and agreed to appear on the soundtrack.[8]

Originally titled "How Can You Just Sit There?", the song was initially from the sessions for Collins' debut solo album Face Value (1981).[9] Collins wrote the song, while arranger Arif Mardin produced it.[8] The piano performance is by New York musician Rob Mounsey. Piano, keyboard bass and a string section arranged and conducted by Mardin were recorded at RCA Studios, New York, while Collins recorded vocals and drums in Los Angeles.[10]

According to Collins in a 1985 interview with Dan Neer: "We recorded the song in two days. One day in New York, the other in Los Angeles. The mixes were done by phone and the song went to Number 1. I couldn't believe it".

On episode 339 of This American Life, "Break Up", Collins relays that the song was inspired and written shortly after the breakup between him and his first wife. In the interview he says that the divorce transformed him from being a musician into also being a lyricist.

The song was first included on a Collins album on the 1998 compilation Hits, and it also appeared on his compilation Love Songs: A Compilation... Old and New (2004). A live performance of the song also appears on the Serious Hits… Live! album. In 2015, Collins released the original demo recording from the Face Value sessions as part of his Take A Look At Me Now project.

Use and association with the film

"Against All Odds" was created explicitly for the movie,[10] although it was based on an earlier unreleased song Collins had written in 1981. Hackford, who previously used a song for the 1982 American drama film An Officer and a Gentleman, planned the same for the neo-noir 1984 film Against All Odds,[10] which is a remake of Out of the Past. When he signed with Atlantic Records, he was provided with a roster of artists, among whom Collins was chosen to render the film's theme song based on the quality of his voice.[10] Hackford said that it was a "textbook case of designing a song to reflect what the film is".[10] The song appears in the movie as background music during the closing credits.[11]

Writing for the soundtrack's review, Allmusic editor Heather Phares claimed that the movie is best remembered for the inclusion of Collins' "classic theme song".[12] Phares added that the song "remains not only one of Collins' definitive singles, but one of the 1980s' best love songs".[12] Director Hackford also had the same view, stating that it "decidedly" helped the film: people identified the song with the film and came to watch it.[10] When the single went top five, it contributed to the increased box office sales of the movie.[10]


"Against All Odds" won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male in 1985, was nominated for Song of the Year and for an Academy Award as well as for a Golden Globe both in the Best Original Song categories. At the Academy Awards ceremony, Collins was not invited to sing his song on stage and instead sat in the audience as dancer Ann Reinking gave a mostly lip-synced vocal performance accompanied by a dance routine. Reinking's performance was poorly received by critics from the Los Angeles Times and People,[13][14] as well as by Collins himself in a Rolling Stone interview.[15]

When another song Collins performed for a movie, "Separate Lives", was being nominated for an Academy Award, in interviews about the original snub by the Academy for "Against All Odds", Collins would jokingly say "the hell with him - I'm going up too", referring to what he would do if the Stephen Bishop-written song were to win the award.[16] Collins lost to the Stevie Wonder song "I Just Called to Say I Love You".

Rapper RZA named "Against All Odds" as his favourite power ballad in an article on such songs in Spin.[17]

Commercial performance

After its release, "Against All Odds" peaked at No. 2 as a single in 1984 and became Collins' third top-ten single in the UK. In the U.S., it peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks in the spring of 1984.[8] Billboard ranked it at the No. 5 song for 1984.[18]

It is the first of six songs by Collins written specifically for a film soundtrack that would appear on the Hot 100.

Music video

The single's music video was directed by Taylor Hackford, produced by Jeffrey Abelson through Parallax Productions and cinematographed by Daniel Pearl.[19] Hackford was paid US$20,000 (out of a total budget of US$45,000)[20] for a complete Collins clip. The music video was released in February 1984.[10] A No. 1 MTV video for several weeks, MTV ranked it as No. 4 four in its 1984 year-end top 20 video countdown.[21] Gary LeMel, music supervisor at Columbia, felt the music video on MTV increased Against All Odds' box office takings by at least US$5 million.[20]

The concept for the video was created by Keith Williams, a Welsh-born writer who had already worked with Abelson on the video for "Dancin' With Myself" (Billy Idol), and who would go on to also create concepts for "Holding Out for a Hero" (Bonnie Tyler) and "Ghostbusters" (Ray Parker, Jr.) for the same producer as well as "Say You Say Me" (Lionel Richie) from White Nights, which Taylor Hackford also directed.


Chart (1984) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[22] 3
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[23] 13
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[24] 4
Canada Top Singles (RPM) 1
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[25] 5
France (SNEP)[26] 20
Germany (Official German Charts)[27] 9
Ireland (IRMA) 1
Italy (FIMI)[28] 3
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[29] 10
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[30] 3
Norway (VG-lista)[31] 1
Polish Singles Chart[32] 8
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[33] 3
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[34] 4
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[35] 2
US Billboard Hot 100[36] 1
US Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 3
US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 1


Mariah Carey version

"Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)"
Single by Mariah Carey
from the album Rainbow
Released 3 June 2000 (2000-06-03)
Recorded 1999
Length 3:25
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Phil Collins
Mariah Carey singles chronology
"Crybaby"/"Can't Take That Away (Mariah's Theme)"
"Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)"

American singer Mariah Carey co-produced her version of the song with James Harris III and Terry Lewis for her sixth studio album Rainbow which was released in 1999. Carey co-produced the single edit of the song with Steve Mac.

Although the song was promoted as part of Carey's Rainbow in the U.S., it was not released as a commercial or radio single there. It was initially released in some markets in early 2000. This was also the last single with her then label Columbia. The song reached top twenty in several countries. The highest peak of the song was number two in Norway.

The video for the Carey version of the song, directed by Paul Misbehoven, consists of a montage of clips of Carey singing the song from her various Rainbow World Tour stops to cullings from her Homecoming special.

Critical reception

Mariah Carey's cover of "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" received moderately mixed reviews. Danyel Smith of Entertainment Weekly wrote: "Listeners with an eye on the tabloids could read her close, ringing interpretation of Phil Collins' 1984 hit, "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)," as a postmortem on her bittersweet affair with Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter and a poignant evocation of the couple's shared mixed-race heritage ("You're the only one who really knew me at all")."[37] L.A. Times' Elysa Gardner called this cover "surprisingly faithful, forthright" and "she resists her tendency to over-embellish notes and focuses on what really matters: the melody and lyrics."[38] MTV Asia editor Dara Cook wrote: "Mariah festoons herself in Phil Collins' 1980s melodic garb, appropriately pret a porter with overwrought emotion. She delicately ascends the sparely accompanied first verses—but alas, that damn drum roll soon sounds and the bouffant strings and vocal gymnastics ensue."[39] Rolling Stone's Arion Berger was not happy with the cover selection which he called a "drippy Eighties power-pop hit."[40]

Track listings

European CD single
  1. "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)"
  2. "Crybaby" (featuring Snoop Dogg)
European CD maxi-single
  1. "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)"
  2. "Crybaby" (featuring Snoop Dogg)
  3. "Thank God I Found You" (Stargate Radio Edit featuring Joe & 98°)
  4. "Can't Take That Away (Mariah's Theme)" (Morales Club Mix Edit)
Japanese CD single
  1. "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" (featuring Westlife)
  2. "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" (album version)
  3. "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" (Pound Boys Radio Edit)
  4. "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" (instrumental)


Weekly charts

Chart (2000) Peak
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[41] 26
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[42] 15
Europe (European Hot 100 Singles)[43] 36
France (SNEP)[44] 18
Germany (Official German Charts)[45] 29
Italy (FIMI)[46] 17
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[47] 27
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[48] 20
Norway (VG-lista)[49] 2
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[50] 20

Year-end charts

Chart (2000) Position
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[51] 42
France (SNEP)[52] 74
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[53] 200
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[54] 93

Mariah Carey and Westlife version

"Against All Odds"
Single by Mariah Carey and Westlife
from the album Rainbow and Coast to Coast
Released 18 September 2000
Recorded Flyte Tyme Studios, Edina, MA & Capri Digital Studios, Capri, Italy & Rokstone Studios, London, England & Parc Studios, Orlando, FL & Olympic Studios, London, England; December 1999–2000
Length 3:25
Label BMG, Columbia, Sony
Writer(s) Phil Collins
Producer(s) Mariah Carey, Steve Mac
Westlife singles chronology
"Fool Again"
"Against All Odds"
"My Love"
Music sample
"Against All Odds"
20 second sample of Mariah Carey and Westlife's "Against All Odds"

Carey re-released the song in collaboration with Irish boyband Westlife. The song was released as first single from the band's second album Coast to Coast. The song was released in September 2000, a few months after Carey's solo version. Carey did not re-record her vocals for the duet; however, the instrumental track was reproduced with a more organic sound complete with violins. The music video shows Carey and Westlife recording the song and exploring the island of Capri by boat.

The single peaked at number one in the United Kingdom and Ireland, while reaching number three on the continental chart, European Hot 100 Singles.[55] It became Carey's second single to top the UK Singles Chart and Westlife's sixth consecutive number one single. The song has sold 370,000 copies in the total in the United Kingdom.[56] The UK version of the single includes a limited edition Enhanced CD with video, poster and Westlife-only version and CD with Westlife video interview and picture sleeves.[57] Due to its European success, the single is featured on the international editions of Carey's compilation albums Greatest Hits (2001) and #1 to Infinity (2015).

Track listing

  1. "Against All Odds" - 3:21
  2. "Against All Odds" (Pound Boys Main Mix) – 9:09
  3. "Against All Odds" (Mariah Carey Solo Version) – 3:21
  4. "Westlife Interview" – 4:00
  1. "Against All Odds" – 3:21
  2. "Against All Odds" (Westlife Solo Version) – 3:21
  3. "Against All Odds" (Pound Boys Dub) – 6:48
  4. "Against All Odds" (Video) – 3:21
  1. "Against All Odds" – 3:21
  2. "Against All Odds" (Pound Boys Radio Edit) – 3:48
  1. "Against All Odds" – 3:21
  2. "Against All Odds" (Pound Boys Radio Edit) – 3:48
  3. "Against All Odds" (Mariah Carey Solo Version) – 3:21
  4. "Against All Odds" (Instrumental) – 3:21


Weekly charts

Chart (2000) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[58] 52
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[59] 50
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[60] 31
Europe (European Hot 100 Singles)[61] 3
Ireland (IRMA)[62] 1
Japan (Oricon Singles Chart)[63] 78
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[64] 35
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[65] 29
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[66] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[67] 3
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[68] 1

Year-end charts

Chart (2000) Position
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[53] 260
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[69] 47
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[70] 28

Certifications and sales

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[71] Gold 400,000[56]

Steve Brookstein version

"Against All Odds"
Single by Steve Brookstein
from the album Heart and Soul
Released 20 December 2004
Format CD single, digital download
Recorded 2004
Genre Pop rock
Length 3:12
Label Sony BMG
Writer(s) Phil Collins
Steve Brookstein singles chronology
"Against All Odds"
"Fighting Butterflies"

English singer and The X Factor winner Steve Brookstein included "Against All Odds" on his debut studio album, Heart and Soul. It was released as his debut single on 20 December 2004 by Sony BMG.


In 2004, Brookstein won the televised UK talent competition The X Factor, and recorded a cover of the Phil Collins 1984 hit "Against All Odds" as his debut single. It entered the UK Singles Chart at number two behind "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid 20, and then climbed to number one, where it stayed for one week from 2 January 2005 to 8 January 2005 and was replaced by Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock". "Against All Odds" was later included on Brookstein's debut album Heart and Soul.

Chart performance

"Against All Odds" debuted at number two in the United Kingdom, behind Band Aid 20's version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?", and at number 11 in Ireland. It charted at number one in the UK the following week. "Against All Odds" sold 127,701 copies in its first week in the UK, the lowest first-week sales for an X Factor winner's single to date.[72] Brookstein's version has sold 204,000 copies in the UK to date, making it the lowest-selling X Factor winner's single.[73] It has sold fewer than half the copies of Leon Jackson's "When You Believe" and Little Mix's "Cannonball", a third of Joe McElderry's "The Climb", a quarter of Leona Lewis's "A Moment Like This", and a fifth of those of Matt Cardle's "When We Collide", Shayne Ward's "That's My Goal", James Arthur's "Impossible" and Alexandra Burke's "Hallelujah". The next fewest sales from a winner's song was Sam Bailey's version of "Skyscraper", which had first-week sales of 149,000 copies, 26,000 more than "Against All Odds".[73]

Track listing

  1. "Against All Odds" – 3:17
  2. "Smile" (The X Factor performance) – 1:55
  3. "Help Me Make It Through the Night" (The X Factor performance) – 2:00


Chart (2004–05) Peak
Ireland (IRMA)[74] 11
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[75] 1

Other covers

Pop culture


The song also features heavily in the first act of the This American Life episode 'Break Up'. The segment featured an interview with Collins, as well as narration from a woman who listened to the song to get over a break-up and vowed to write her own break-up song.[84]

See also


Inline citations

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  3. Eler, Alicia (13 August 2013). "Artist uses Phil Collins, Skype to construct online personae". Salon.
  4. Taylor, Chuck. "At AC Radio, Phil Collins' Take on 'True Colors' Is Shining Through". Billboard. 14 November 1998.
  5. Stark, David (16 November 2002). "Collin's Writing Yields Hits For Many". Billboard: 38. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  6. "X Factor star ends Band Aid reign". BBC News. 2 January 2005. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  7. Morris, Chris (6 December 1986). "Early Music-Film Ties Best". Billboard.
  8. 1 2 3 Hogan, Ed. "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  9. Tobler, John. "The Progressive Reign of Genesis" Archived 25 August 2005 at the Wayback Machine.. Billboard Magazine. 7 March 1987.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Denisoff 1991, p. 406.
  11. Denisoff 1991, p. 408.
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  13. "Down The Academy". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. 31 March 1985. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  14. Wolmuth, Roger (8 July 1985). "Short, Pudgy and Bald, All Phil Collins Produces Is Hits". People. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
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  • Denisoff, R. Serge; Romanowski, William D. (1991). Risky Business: Rock in Film. Transaction Publishers. p. 768. ISBN 978-0-88738-843-9. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
Preceded by
"Footloose" by Kenny Loggins
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Phil Collins version)
21 April 1984 – 11 May 1984 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Hello" by Lionel Richie
Preceded by
"Lady (Hear Me Tonight)" by Modjo
Irish IRMA number-one single
25 September 2000 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Beautiful Day" by U2
Preceded by
"Lady (Hear Me Tonight)" by Modjo
Scottish Singles Chart (Mariah Carey featuring Westlife version)
24 September 2000 – 8 October 2000
Succeeded by
"Silence" by Delerium featuring Sarah McLachlan
Preceded by
"Lady (Hear Me Tonight)" by Modjo
UK number-one single (Mariah Carey featuring Westlife version)
24 September 2000 – 8 October 2000
Succeeded by
"Black Coffee" by All Saints
Preceded by
The X Factor winner's single (Steve Brookstein version)
Succeeded by
"That's My Goal" by Shayne Ward
Preceded by
"Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid 20
UK number-one single (Steve Brookstein version)
2 January 2005
Succeeded by
"Jailhouse Rock" by Elvis Presley
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