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

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.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly