The Hit Songs Deconstructed Wire

Penn's Pick: Genesis – Turn It On Again



Artist: Genesis
Song/Album: Turn It On Again / Duke
Writers: Banks, Collins, Rutherford
Year Released: 1980
Genres: Pop/Rock, Progressive

Why it’s a “Penn’s Pick”:

Artists and bands who attempt to transition from one style of music that their core fanbase have come to love and expect into a completely new direction is a risky gamble.

Sometimes it works (Bob Dylan going electric, Avicii going Folk/EDM), sometimes it doesn’t (Judas Priest going Pop/Hair Metal in ’86), and in a recent case it’s still too early to tell (Katy Perry’s transition into a more “mature” direction with “Prism”).

This is what Genesis encountered with their transition from the Art/Rock, Progressive natured Gabriel era into the more Straight-Up Pop Collins era. But unlike the abrupt shifts in style seen from Dylan, Priest and Avicii, Genesis chose to stretch the transition out over multiple albums to mitigate the shakeup.

The culmination of these 2 distinct eras fusing together can be found on 1980’s “Turn It On Again.” Collin’s infectious, straight-ahead Pop/Rock natured vocal was primed for mass appeal, while Rutherford and Banks provided an unconventional song structure, progression and time signature combo that remained in-line with their progressive roots.

Combined, the song took on a unique quality that enabled it to stand out from the pack and resonate on a wide scale, ultimately becoming one of the band’s most beloved and requested songs within their 40+ year catalog.

Now, was everyone at the time happy with the band’s new direction? Of course not. Diehard fans of “The Return Of The Giant Hogweed” and “Get ‘Em Out By Friday” probably wanted nothing to do with the with the new Pop nature of their sound. One thing is undeniable, however – they achieved much greater $uccess with their Pop direction than they did with their progressive – for better or worse.

Personally, “Turn It On Again” is one of my favorite all-time songs, but then again, so is “The Return Of The Giant Hogweed!”