Phil Collins’ ‘In the Air Tonight’ sales skyrocket after twins’ viral reaction video


Phil Collins has a couple of new friends in YouTube sensations Tim and Fred Williams.

Digital sales of the singer’s 1981 hit “In the Air Tonight” have spiked phenomenally since a video of the 22-year-old twins reacting to the tune went viral last week.

On the Friday and Saturday after the video’s viral tear, 4,600 digital copies of the song were sold, compared with a few hundred the previous weekend, according to Rolling Stone, which gets its info from music data collection firm Alpha Data. Compared with the previous two days, it was a 1,100% increase.

Streams of the tune didn’t spike much, if at all. But sales, yes. Perhaps it was a bunch of Boomers and Gen X-ers filling in the blanks from way back when they sold their apple crates full of vinyl? Because everyone needs at least a nod to Collins’ “Face Value” debut solo album.


The Williams brothers saw their YouTube channel’s popularity go through the roof in recent days thanks to the virality of that “In the Air Tonight” video. Viewers were genuinely delighted by their first-timer reactions to the song’s legendary, unexpected drum solo, which comes well into the moody cut.

Musician Phil Collins in 2016
Musician Phil Collins in 2016.
(Drew Gurian / Associated Press)

When Collins’ drum solo hits, about five minutes into the twins video, Tim and Fred look blown away. The two hit pause on the Genesis drummer’s song and share their (amazed) thoughts with big smiles on their faces.

“That was cold, that was cold how he did that. I ain’t gonna lie, Phil, you got me on that,” Tim said.

“I ain’t never seen nobody drop a beat three minutes in a song,” Fred chimed in. “He killed it! ... That’s unique.”

A huge statue of baby Jesus looks just like drummer-frontman Phil Collins in the 1980s, and we dare you: Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away.

Nov. 21, 2019

Many viewers noted on social media that the video had sent them down a rabbit hole of the brothers’ YouTube channel, TwinsthenewTrend, where there were plenty of videos to view.


The Gary, Ind., twins’ routine is to take a song suggested by subscribers and give it a first-time listen on camera. They pretty much dig every tune, but the joy comes from seeing the reaction of a new generation to classic songs from all genres.

As of Tuesday, their YouTube channel was at 385,000 subscribers and growing, up from not quite 40,000 in early June. The channel hit 100,000 subscribers in late July, prompting a celebratory tweet from Tim Williams, who has been the primary anchor of the channel’s videos since July 2019.

“I remember a year ago I wasn’t eating ... Now when I wake up I swear my life feel like a dream ... I achieved this milestone with hard work, perseverance, and a drive for a better life,” he wrote.

The “In the Air Tonight” reaction video, posted on July 27, had more than 4 million views as of Tuesday. That’s up from viewership that was generally in the five-digit range on earlier videos.

Among the twins’ admirers was Ava DuVernay, who commented Friday on “In the Air Tonight” jumping to the top of the iTunes chart.


“This has gone viral,” the 47-year-old filmmaker wrote, “but I’m posting it anyway ‘cause it makes me smile. And if you haven’t seen it yet, maybe it’ll make you smile.”

Dolly Parton’s team, upon learning the twins also had a reaction video — now with more than 3 million views —to her “Jolene,” got in on the action too.

Gotta say, Tim Williams is likely the only music critic to offer this kind of opinion on a song that hit No. 1 in its time:

“This is most definitely a cookout song,” he said in a June 1 video. “Most definitely Fourth of July, most definitely your uncle with the toes-out sandals cookout song. ... Sounds like your auntie-with-the-’Black Panther’-poster-rug-in-her-house song.”


The tune? “More Than a Woman,” by the Bee Gees.