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 number two in the United Kingdom, while it peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, the first of seven US number ones for Collins in his solo career.
Collins was approached to write the title song to the film Against All Odds while it was still in its “rough cut form”. 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.
Originally titled “How Can You Just Sit There?”, the song was initially from the sessions for Collins’ debut solo album Face Value (1981). Collins wrote the song, while arranger Arif Mardin produced it. 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.
According to Collins in a 1985 interview with Dan Neer: “We recorded the song in two days. One day in New York, the other in Los Angeles. The mixes were done by phone and the song went to Number 1. I couldn’t believe it”.
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.