What’s Goin’ On

Throwback: 'Sussudio'

Today in 1985: A nonsense word hits No. 1


Paul McCartney had "Scrambled Eggs," the placeholder lyric that led to "Yesterday." Phil Collins had "Sussudio"—and stuck with it.

For some music fans, the nonsense word was like nails on a blackboard, a piece of gibberish that detracted from an otherwise catchy song about a schoolboy crush.

For Collins, however, "Sussudio" turned out to be solid gold, the second of his three No. 1 hits in 1985, exactly 33 years ago today. ("One More Night" topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks that spring; "Separate Lives," a duet with Marilyn Martin, followed suit in November.)

Collins, then 34, claims he was just fooling around with a drum machine when inspiration stuck. "I started to sing into the microphone and this word came out, which was 'sus-sussudio,'" he later explained on VH1's "Storytellers." "I went back and tried to find another word that scanned as well as 'sussudio' and I couldn't find one."

The rest is history or stupidity, depending on your point of view. The backlash was amped up by critics who pointed out the synth-heavy tune's similarity to Prince's "1999."

Collins shrugged off that barb too. "It was influenced by Prince, of course, and was the first time I worked with dance synth programmers," he pointed out.

Besides, he added, you should've heard the original version of "Sussudio"—it sounded even more like His Purple Highness.

"I'm a big fan," Collins said.

Photo by Brendan Monks/Mirrorpix/Getty Images