This Day in ’84: Genesis Release “Illegal Alien”
36 years ago today, Genesis released the fourth single from their self-titled 1983 album, a song which is arguably even more relevant in 2020 than it was when it was originally released.
With songwriting credit assigned jointly to Tony Banks, Phil Collins, and Mike Rutherford, “Illegal Alien” was – like the album from which it originated – co-produced by Genesis and Hugh Padgham. Also like the other tracks on GENESIS, it’s an extremely catchy ditty, one that offers a satirical look at the experience of an illegal Mexican immigrant attempting to get across the border. It’s fair to say that the lyrics aren’t exactly the most politically-correct things you’ve ever heard, but there’s still far too much familiarity to the story in the present political climate…although we’d guess there probably aren’t many Mexican immigrants who look like the guys in this video.
As a single, “Illegal Alien” was the textbook definition of a minor hit, hitting #44 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #46 on the UK Singles chart, and it’s not a song that frequented the band’s live sets very often: since the band’s tour behind the GENESIS album, it’s only ever appeared as part of a medley. And yet it’s a song that every Genesis fan knows, because – as Steven Hyden of the AV Club wrote once upon a time – “the melody, per usual for a mid-‘80s Collins-involved track, is pretty damned irresistible.”
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