Illegal Alien (song)

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"Illegal Alien"
Illegal Alien Single.jpg
Single by Genesis
from the album Genesis
B-side "Turn It On Again" (Live)
Released23 January 1984
Genre Pop rock
Length4:33 (45)
5:14 (LP)
Label Atlantic, Virgin, Vertigo
Songwriter(s) Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford
Producer(s) Genesis, Hugh Padgham
Genesis singles chronology
"Home by the Sea"
"Illegal Alien"
"Taking It All Too Hard"

"Illegal Alien" is a song by English rock band Genesis. It was released as the fourth single from the album Genesis . The song reached No.46 on the UK Singles Chart. [1]



The song's lyrics are a satirical [2] depiction of the frustrations an undocumented immigrant faces in coming to the United States, with lead singer Phil Collins affecting a stereotypical Latino accent, leading up to the chorus: "It's no fun being an illegal alien." [3] The first stanza of the bridge contains the lyric "Over the border there lies the Promised Land / Where everything comes easy, you just hold out your hand" associating the song's protagonist with the pejorative stereotype that Latino immigrants are freeloaders. The second stanza of the bridge—in which the protagonist offers sexual favors from his sister in exchange for admittance across the border—was edited from radio versions of the song, as well as from the music video version.

In 2018, USA Today put the song on their list of 20 politically incorrect songs that'd be wildly controversial today. [4] The A.V. Club notes that "The song and video touch on pretty much every Mexican stereotype, like a check list, in the space of four and a half minutes: drunkenness, panchos, laziness, Mariachi horns, bushy mustaches, sneakiness, sombreros, nonsensical Spanish gibberish." [2]

Collins played trumpet and keyboardist Tony Banks used an Emulator sampler while recording the song.

Music video

Writing a quarter-century after its release, Wired Magazine's Scott Thill called the song's music video "a train wreck". [5] The video depicts most of the events described in the lyrics. At the end of the video, the entire cast and crew is seen singing the repeated chorus along with the band members. The clip was filmed at the same time as the video for "Mama".

Live performances

"Illegal Alien" was only played live in its entirety during the Mama Tour. [6] A live version is featured on disc two of Genesis Archive 2: 1976–1992 , which was recorded live at the L.A. Forum in Los Angeles, California on 14 January 1984. The home video The Mama Tour features a live version of the song performed at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England, in February 1984.

An excerpt from the chorus was included as part of the "Old Medley" featured on The Way We Walk, Volume Two: The Longs and The Way We Walk – Live in Concert .

Track listings

7" single

  1. "Illegal Alien" – 4:33
  2. "Turn It On Again" (Live) – 5:24

12" maxi

  1. "Illegal Alien" – 5:14
  2. "Turn It On again" (Live extended version) – 9:26



Chart (1984)Peak
Canada Top Singles ( RPM ) [7] 41
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) [8] 46
US Billboard Hot 100 [9] 44

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  1. Genesis UK chart history, The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  2. 1 2 It's No Fun Bein' A Really Good, Really Offensive Genesis Song. The A.V. Club; 2/5/2018.
  3. Revisiting Genesis' Self-Titled 1983 Album. Ultimate Classic Rock website; Oct 5, 2013.
  4. Ryan, Patrick (12 April 2018). "20 politically incorrect songs that'd be wildly controversial today". USA Today . Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  5. Scott Hill, Genesis’ “Illegal Alien:” Worst Song Ever? Or Worst Video Ever? Wired, May 30, 2008.
  6. Mama Tour Songs & Dates
  7. "Canadian peak". Archived from the original on 3 January 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  8. "Genesis | full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company . Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  9. "Genesis Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard . Retrieved 29 June 2020.