Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)

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"Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)"
Phil Collins Against All Odds single cover.jpg
Single by Phil Collins
from the album Against All Odds: Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
B-side"The Search"
  • February 1984 (US)
  • 26 March 1984 (UK)[1]
Songwriter(s)Phil Collins
Producer(s)Arif Mardin
Phil Collins singles chronology
"Like China"
"Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)"
"Easy Lover"
Audio sample
"Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)"

"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 No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, the first of seven US No. 1's for Collins in his solo career.[4] "Against All Odds (Take a Look At Me Now)" also topped the charts in Canada, Ireland, and Norway, while peaking at No. 2 in the United Kingdom.

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 No. 1 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[edit]

Background and writing[edit]

Collins was approached to write the title song to the film Against All Odds while it was still in its preliminary "rough cut form".[7] At the time the soundtrack was being completed, Collins was on tour with Genesis. Director Taylor Hackford flew into 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's music was written by Collins during sessions for his debut solo album Face Value (1981), but it fell by the wayside as it was his least favourite of the several ballads he wrote at the time.[9][10] Neither was it included on Hello, I Must Be Going!, as many newer songs were written for it. Eventually, Collins presented the demo to Taylor Hackford when approached to write a song for the Against All Odds movie, which he loved. Then Collins penned the lyrics, which were for the film.[10] Due to lack of time available (as he was on tour with Genesis), he had arranger Arif Mardin produce it, and they worked on it over two days.[10] 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.[11]

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[edit]

"Against All Odds" was created explicitly for the movie,[11] 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,[11] 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.[11] Hackford said that it was a "textbook case of designing a song to reflect what the film is".[11] The song appears in the movie as background music during the closing credits.[12]

Writing for the soundtrack's review, Allmusic editor Heather Phares claimed that the film is best remembered for the inclusion of Collins' "classic theme song".[13] Phares added that the song "remains not only one of Collins' definitive singles, but one of the 1980s' best love songs".[13] 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.[11] When the single reached the top five, it contributed to the increased box office sales of the movie.[11]


"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,[14][15] as well as by Collins himself in a Rolling Stone interview.[16]

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.[17] 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.[18]

Commercial performance[edit]

"Against All Odds" became Collins' third top-ten single in the UK, peaking at #2 for three weeks in 1984. It was kept from the top spot by Lionel Richie's "Hello" for the first of these three weeks, and Duran Duran's "The Reflex" for the next two. It was ranked 14th in the year-end best-seller chart. 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 as the No. 5 song for 1984.[19]

Music video[edit]

The single's music video was directed by Taylor Hackford, produced by Jeffrey Abelson through Parallax Productions and cinematographed by Daniel Pearl.[20] Hackford was paid US$20,000 (out of a total budget of US$45,000)[21] for a complete Collins clip. The music video was released in February 1984.[11] A No. 1 MTV video for several weeks, MTV ranked it as No. 4 four in its 1984 year-end top 20 video countdown.[22] 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.[21]

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.[23]




Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[45] Gold 35,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[46] Gold 500,000^
United States (RIAA)[47] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Mariah Carey version[edit]

"Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)"
Against All Odds Mariah Carey.png
Single by Mariah Carey
from the album Rainbow
Released29 May 2000
Songwriter(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)"
"Against All Odds"

American singer Mariah Carey co-produced her version of the song with James Harris III and Terry Lewis for her seventh studio album Rainbow which was released in 1999. It was released on 29 May 2000, as the third single from the album.[48] 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 the top twenty in several countries. The highest peak of the song was number two in Norway and Poland.

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[edit]

Mariah Carey's cover of "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" received positive 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")."[49] 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."[50] 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."[51] Rolling Stone's Arion Berger was not happy with the cover selection which he called a "drippy Eighties power-pop hit."[52]

Track listing[edit]

CD Single[53]
  1. "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)" - 3:25
  2. "Crybaby" – 5:19
  3. "Thank God I Found You (Stargate Radio Edit)" – 4:21
  4. "Can't Take That Away (Morales Club Mix Edit)" – 3:57
12" Single[54]
  1. "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)" (Pound Boys Main Mix)" – 9:09
  2. "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)" (Pound Boys Radio Edit)" – 3:37
  3. "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)" (Pound Boys Deep Dub)" – 8:12
  4. "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)" (Pound Boys Dub)" – 6:56
Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now) EP[55]
  1. "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)" (with Westlife) - 3:21
  2. "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)" (Mariah Only) - 3:25
  3. "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)" (Pound Boys Radio Edit) – 3:37
  4. "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)" (Pound Boys Main Mix) – 9:09
  5. "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)" (Pound Boys Deep Dub) – 8:12
  6. "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)" (Pound Boys Dub) – 6:56


Mariah Carey and Westlife version[edit]

"Against All Odds"
Westlife carey.jpg
Single by Mariah Carey featuring Westlife
from the album Rainbow and Coast to Coast
Released18 September 2000 (2000-09-18)
RecordedDecember 1999–2000
  • Flyte Tyme (Edina, Minnesota)
  • Capri Digital (Capri, Italy)
  • Rokstone, Olympic (London, England)
  • Parc (Orlando, Florida)
Songwriter(s)Phil Collins
Westlife singles chronology
"Fool Again"
"Against All Odds"
"My Love"
Mariah Carey singles chronology
"Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)"
"Against All Odds"
Audio sample
20 second sample of Mariah Carey and Westlife's "Against All Odds"
Music video
"Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" on YouTube

Carey rereleased the song in collaboration with Irish boyband Westlife. The song was released as the first single from the band's second album Coast to Coast. The song was released on 18 September 2000, following Carey's solo version.[73] Carey's vocals from the solo version were retained for the duet, though 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 both the United Kingdom and Scotland for two weeks, as well in Ireland for three weeks, while reaching number three on the continental chart, European Hot 100 Singles.[74] It became Carey's second single to top the UK Singles Chart and Westlife's sixth consecutive number one single. The song has sold 440,000 copies in the total in the United Kingdom. It is Westlife's sixth biggest selling single (paid-for sales and combined sales categories) of all-time and their fifteenth most streamed single in the United Kingdom.[75]

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.[76] 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 listings[edit]

UK CD1[77]

  1. "Against All Odds" – 3:21
  2. "Against All Odds" (Pound Boys Main Mix) – 9:09
  3. "Against All Odds" (Mariah only version) – 3:21
  4. "Westlife Interview" (CD extra video version)

UK CD2[78]

  1. "Against All Odds" – 3:21
  2. "Against All Odds" (Westlife only version) – 3:21
  3. "Against All Odds" (Pound Boys Dub) – 6:48
  4. "Against All Odds" (CD extra video version)

UK cassette single[79]

  1. "Against All Odds" – 3:21
  2. "Against All Odds" (Pound Boys radio edit) – 3:37

Japanese CD single[80]

  1. "Against All Odds" – 3:20
  2. "Against All Odds" (album version) – 3:26
  3. "Against All Odds" (Pound Boys radio edit) – 3:32
  4. "Against All Odds" (instrumental) – 3:20


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2000) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[81] 52
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[82] 50
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[83] 31
Croatia (HRT)[84] 3
Denmark (IFPI)[85] 2
Europe (European Hot 100 Singles)[86] 3
Ireland (IRMA)[32] 1
Japan (Oricon)[87] 78
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[88] 35
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[89] 29
Poland (Music & Media)[90] 16
Portugal (AFP)[91] 4
Scotland (OCC)[92] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[93] 3
UK Singles (OCC)[94] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2000) Position
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[95] 47
UK Singles (OCC)[96] 28


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Sweden (GLF)[97] Gold 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[98] Gold 400,000double-dagger

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Steve Brookstein version[edit]

"Against All Odds"
Single by Steve Brookstein
from the album Heart and Soul
Released20 December 2004
GenrePop rock
LabelSony BMG
Songwriter(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[edit]

"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 until 2015.[99] Brookstein's version has sold 204,000 copies in the UK to date, making it the lowest-selling X Factor winner's single.[100] 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".[100] However, Louisa Johnson, Matt Terry and Rak Su would all have lower first week sales in later years.

Track listing[edit]

  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


In popular culture[edit]


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.[105]

Video games[edit]

A cover of the song by Deja Vu featuring Tasmin was featured in the 2001 game Dance Dance Revolution 5thMix for the Japanese arcade and PlayStation 2, and in the 2005 game Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 for the North American PlayStation 2.[106]

See also[edit]


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