What’s Goin’ On

Throwback: 'Sussudio'

Today in 1985: A nonsense word hits No. 1

phil-collins-1985

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

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