In HateSong, we ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.
The hater: As a Semi-recent transplant to L.A. from Chicago, Liza Treyger is making her mark in the comedy world. She’s had appearances on Chelsea Lately and Adam Devine’s House Party, and also has a new Comedy Central half-hour, Glittercheese.
The hated: Phil Collins, “In The Air Tonight” (1981)
The A.V. Club: Why did you pick this song?
Liza Treyger: I was on the swim team in high school, and one of our coaches would make us meditate to this song. We would go to the gymnastics gym and we would just lie on the ground, and he would have us visualize the races to that song, and I hated it so much. It just is disgusting to me. It’s fake pump-up music, and I don’t get it, and I don’t like it. It’s too slow and weird. The drums are fine, I guess.
AVC: Isn’t it about someone drowning?
LT: Is it really?
AVC: There’s an urban legend that Phil Collins saw someone drown. And one of the lines says, “If you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand.” That makes it a pretty weird pump-up track for a swim team.
LT: It’s so weird. I didn’t even know it was about someone drowning! Creepy.
AVC: Why were you meditating? Was it just visualization?
LT: If there was like a conference meet or we were facing one of our rivals, we would all lay in a big circle and he would just start talking about, like, “You’re on the starting block, and you’re grabbing it, and you feel it underneath you, and then you jump off!” Then we listened to that song in silence. We didn’t love it.
AVC: How long did this go on?
LT: Years! Years, years, years. Throughout all four years of high school, we would listen to that song.
AVC: It’s also a long song—or, at least, it feels like a long song.
LT: I like the part where it’s like “ba-dum ba-dum ba-dum,” on drums, but everything else is just the worst.
AVC: Do you like Phil Collins?
LT: Yeah, because I like Tarzan. I really like the Tarzan song, but I don’t know much else about him.
He seems fine. He looks like a nerd. He’s like a poor man’s Sting, right? Like they’re kind of the same?
AVC: That sounds about right. A slightly homelier Sting.
LT: The Tarzan songs are great, but they’re all cheesy. It’s just cheesy music. You’re not going to want to fuck someone after they sing a Phil Collins song to you. No one’s running to have sex with you. If someone were at karaoke and sang Phil Collins, no one would be like, “Oh, I gotta fuck that dude.”
AVC: But if someone sang the Tarzan song, wouldn’t you at least think they seemed fun?
LT: No, because there are better Disney songs.
That’s the thing. If you’re going to sing a Disney song at karaoke, I feel you. I’ve sung “A Whole New World” as a duet multiple times, I’m down for some “Part Of Your World.” I just feel like there’s better songs, if you’re going to do a Disney song. Tarzan’s not even a top 10 Disney movie.
AVC: It could seem like an obvious grab for attention. Like, “Check how deep my Disney knowledge goes.”
You live in Chicago, right? Have you ever been to Entertaining Julia at Town Hall Pub? The show the Puterbaugh Sisters do?
AVC: Yeah, I’ve been to that.
LT: They did one of those with a Disney theme, and comedians went up as a Disney character. Me and my friend David went up as Tarzan and Jane, and I was super annoyed because I stayed with him, but he hasn’t learned anything and he still acts like a gorilla, and I’m just like really pissed about it.
AVC: There is that famous Cadbury commercial with a gorilla playing this song, so it’s all come full circle.
LT: Is it the gorilla wearing bunny ears?
AVC: I think so, yeah.
LT: Wow, I didn’t know that. I’m going to look. I remember the commercial but I don’t remember that song being a part of that.
AVC: It’s nice that you have a very specific reason for not liking this song. It feels personal.
LT: Oh, yeah. It’s just every big meet, having to listen to a song that’s not inspirational, and now that it’s about someone drowning, that’s even crazier. It makes me think that our teacher really had some fucked-up thoughts about us.
AVC: Do you think that the song ever inspired anybody on your team?
LT: I don’t know. It was a bunch of nerds, so maybe. The coach was a nerd too.
It’s so weird being a young girl and seeing these coaches, and you’re like, “Oh, they’re hot,” or like, “How cool are they?” Then you grow up and it’s like, “Oh, you’re a bunch of nerds.” [The coach] also had all these girlfriend issues and we knew about them, and it’s so interesting now as an adult to think, “Yeah, he would have been funky to date for sure, so I’m on his girlfriend’s side.”