"In The Air Tonight": 5 Things About What Has Somehow Become Sport's Biggest Get-Psyched Song

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

We had 790's Big Show on yesterday as we were coming in to the office, and the subject turned to pre-game get-psyched songs, a discussion triggered by the lameness of Clay Walker's Texans anthem "It's Football Time In Texas."

Co-host Lance Zierlein began tossing out possible replacements, which seemed heavy on the rap. Former Texan N.D. Kalu, a co-host on the show that follows LZ's, chimed in -- somewhat sheepishly -- that his all-time favorite song to get revved up to was....Phil Collins's "In The Air Tonight."

Phil Collins -- pasty Brit, Alamo nerd, studio creator of smooth semi-rock -- hardly seems the type to inspire players in one of the world's most violent sports, but Kalu and the rest had to agree that a whole lot of football players turn on "In The Air Tonight" when the pre-game clock is ticking down.

But the song cannot be denied. Just reading about it here means that sometime in the next half hour, unconsciously, you will have drummed your desktop to its Big Moment. Any song that serves the same purpose for everyone from Da U to current Dodger, former Cardinal Nick Punto doesn't have to prove its popularity.

Five things about this 31-year-old song you might not know (and forgive us for any un-musicianly slip-ups; we just listen, we don't write, read or understand music.)

5. Brought to you by the Roland CR-78 CompuRhythm The slow, long build-up to the Big Moment is powered mainly by a drum machine called the Roland CR-78 CompuRhythm.

It's programmed to the "Disco-2" pattern. Other options that could have been used: Rock 1-4, Waltz, Shuffle, Slow Rock, Swing, Fox Trot, Boogie, Enka, Bossa Nova, or Chacha.


Are you ready for some Enka? Here ya go:

4. The actual story behind that immortal Big Moment? Boring technology.

Feast your curiosity upon

this explanation

. Or let your eyes glaze over instead, like ours did.

Perhaps the most famous drum "phil" of all time is the product of some seriously compressed and gated room mics. Two of those mics were a pair of Neumann U87s placed about 15′ out from the drums and compressed with Urei 1176s. The other was a Coles STC Ball and Biscuit talkback mic compressed to hell and back by the SSL console's built-in talkback circuit.

The compressed drum signal was then processed through the on-board SSL gates. In addition to the room mics, the bass drum was close Mic'ed with a Neumann U47 and the snare with a Shure SM57. According to producer Hugh Padgham, the room mics made up 90 percent of the drum sound.

There will be a test. You can try to get Padgham's video explanation, but all we end up with is a repeating ad for some motel.

3. Obama doesn't get it either. President Obama invited the Super Bowl champeen New York Football Giants to the White House, and in the course of his welcoming speech he noted with some disbelief that DL Justin Tuck used "In The Air Tonight" to get ready for the gridiron. Points off for then playing the stale "I need to use that with Congress" card.

Noting that, the night before their Feb. 5 Super Bowl win, the Giants watched a highlight film with a soundtrack of In The Air Tonight, Obama joked, "I don't know about a little Phil Collins before a big game. I may try that before a big meeting with Congress."

2. Cadbury vs. Wonderbra in an "Air Tonight" showdown. The candymaker Cadbury won awards with a TV ad featuring a gorilla playing the drum part, after sitting around waiting for it.

Wonderbra rode that wave with a spoof ad that emphasized body parts the gorilla ad missed.

A better use of boobies than the next item on the list, to be sure.

1. The boobie-knocker Guaranteed to liven up any wedding, dress rehearsal, bar mitzvah or any event where class is not necessary, and likely frowned upon.

Follow Houston Press on Facebook and on Twitter @HairBallsNews or @HoustonPress.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.