Genesis is among the best-selling bands of all time, with somewhere between 100 and 150 million worldwide record sales. Inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Genesis, are credited as one of the main pioneers of progressive rock and were partially responsible for spawning the arena rock craze in the US.
Their career would produce 15 studio albums and six live albums, earning them numerous awards and spawning tribute bands that only play their music. Massively influential and one of the biggest and best rock bands of all time, their work is still heard on radio stations today.
In this article, we’ll go over 31 of the best songs Genesis ever produced.
1. Supper’s Ready
For many Genesis fans, Supper’s Ready is the band’s undisputed masterpiece. It’s by far the band’s longest song, covering a total of seven sections, and almost filled the entire second side of the original vinyl release of their 1972 album Foxtrot. This 23-minute fan favorite has components that mimic both rock songs and sonatas, perfectly segueing between verses and styles throughout.
Tony Banks himself referred to the song as the band’s peak, and it would be regularly played in Genesis concerts for years after its initial release, finding a home on several of their live albums and compilations.
2. Firth of Fifth
Firth of Fifth is one of the best piano rock songs of all time, but Genesis initially rejected it. Tony Banks composed much of the piece and presented it for the band’s Foxtrot album, but it wasn’t accepted. After a rework, Firth of Fifth was chosen for their 1973 album Selling England By The Pound.
Upon release, it was met with massive amounts of critical praise, with many claiming it to be one of the best progressive rock songs of all time. It’s most notable for Banks’ piano solo and Hackett’s guitar solo, both of which are major highlights and known as some of the best solos in history.
3. Dancing With The Moonlit Knight
Dancing With The Moonlit Knight was originally developed by combining several of Peter Gabriel’s’ piano pieces and was specifically designed for English audiences. At the time, some critics thought that Genesis was trying too hard to appeal to American audiences, and Dancing With The Moonlit Knight was their contemporarily English response to those accusations.
It was a great opening song for their Selling England by the Pound album, and it’s full of puns and over-the-top English elements. A line from the song would eventually inspire another song we’ll discuss later in the list, Paperlate.
4. The Carpet Crawlers
The Carpet Crawlers may be Genesis at its most philosophical (and that’s saying something). It’s full of complex symbolism and was one of the best songs to come from the band’s The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway album in 1975.
It served as the second single release for the album but would be rerecorded in 1995 with Gabriel and Collins sharing the lead vocal role. Live versions of the song varied, with Gabriel and Collins both leaving out different lines despite it being a concert staple for the band.
5. In The Cage
In The Cage was another song from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway that continued the story of the Rael character that was a feature of the album. The story itself isn’t the easiest to follow, but over time it’s been mostly pieced together.
In this one, Rael wakes up to see the cave he’s in shifting, with stalactites and stalagmites moving until they form a cage around him. He then sees his brother but receives no help and is left scared and essentially alone. It’s a daunting song that’s been a fan favorite since it was released.
A Trick of the Tail was an important album for Genesis, their first seeing Collins step into the lead vocal role after Gabriel departed from the band. Ripples took on the elements of a great folk song, leaning into simpler sounds and choruses that were catchier than their previous work but simplified things overall as they figured out what they would be going forward.
It’s a rare moment in Genesis’ history that they weren’t showing off their brilliance, instead opting for something just good rather than proving their genius.
As famous as In The Air Tonight has become, it’s a bit surprising that Mama hasn’t shared in its glory. The songs are essentially siblings, with Mama sharing the same themes of tension and release. It’s a severely underrated track outside of the Genesis fanbase that was the lead single of their 1983 album. In the UK, it was the band’s most successful single of all time, rising to number four on the UK Singles chart. In the US, it was less popular, only making it to number 73 on the Billboard Hot 100.
8. Watcher of the Skies
Watcher of the Skies was the first track on Genesis’ Foxtrot album and the only song to be released as a single for the album. It wound up being one of their most popular concert songs, often used to open performances, which is why it was the first song on their 1973 Genesis Live album. It was out there, seeing Peter Gabriel dress up in bat wings and glowing makeup for performances, but that was one of the things that made the song so memorable.
9. Turn It On Again
Turn It On Again debuted at a 1982 reunion concert that saw Gabriel rejoin the band for a very short stint. Like all of the best Genesis songs, it’s more complicated than it appears on the surface, using a tricky time signature of 13/18 to produce a great song to dance to but one you’ll have a harder time keeping track of in your head. Turn It On Again would eventually appear on the band’s 1980 album Duke and helped cement Genesis’ place as a legendary band in the arena rock scene.
10. Keep It Dark
Keep It Dark might have an ominous name, but it was more of a light rock song than something dark and heavy. It was the second single released from the band’s 1981 Abacab album and did fairly well commercially. Keep It Dark was a reasonable hit in the UK, reaching number 33 on the UK Singles chart. It was another time that Genesis flexed their musical muscles, and integrated an unusual time signature and structure to throw everyone that listens slightly off-rhythm.
11. Mad Man Moon
Mad Man Moon is one of the sadder Genesis songs out there, not because of its content but because of its implications. See, the song contains several metaphors for people who try to disconnect from reality and go after their dreams, even though the dreams are as unrealistic as growing wings and flying. It was sort of a foreshadowing of Peter Gabriel deciding to leave the band, which is the part that makes it so sad in retrospect.
12. Get ‘Em Out By Friday
Get ‘Em Out By Friday was a sprawling rock epic that was a major piece of Genesis’ Foxtrot album back in 1972 and a feature of their 1973 live album. A futuristic play of sorts that uses science fiction to take on both corporate greed and some crappy UK landlords, it was the perfect example of early Genesis being inspired by social commentary. It would later be adapted into a comic in the late 70s by a French cartoonist and published in the Fluide Glacial magazine in France.
13. Home By The Sea
We can’t really talk about Home By The Sea without bringing up Second Home By The Sea, as the two were a suite of two songs appearing on Genesis’s 1983 eponymous album. It came while the band transitioned, moving slightly away from progressive rock and implementing pop hooks for a more mainstream sound.
The two songs combined run for around 11 minutes and tell the story of a man who breaks into a home by the sea but finds out it’s haunted, eventually being captured by the ghosts who torture him with their stories for the rest of his life.
14. Invisible Touch
Invisible Touch was the title track of Genesis’ 1986 album and was the most successful song the band ever released in the US. It would be their first and only number-one single in the US, spending a week on top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1986 and becoming the first of five-consecutive top-five singles for the band in the US. Even Phil Collins has called it his favorite Genesis song, so you know it had to feature on this list somewhere.
15. Back In NYC
Back In NYC continues the story of Rael that permeates Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album. It sees the protagonist reminisce on his memories of his home in New York and the things he had to do to be accepted by a gang there. Ultimately, it’s a song that rings true for everyone and is all about finding a group to belong to and your place in the world.
16. Los Endos
Los Endos was the song that really tied the band’s A Trick of the Tail album together and was the instrumental closing track of the album. It was a masterpiece that helped set the band up after the departure of Peter Gabriel and helped Phil Collins prove he was the man to lead the band going forward, producing one of Genesis’ best concert songs and showcasing their ability to tell a story without vocal lyrics.
17. I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)
As great as Genesis has always been, their genius hasn’t always been recognized appropriately. They didn’t get a true hit single until their fifth studio album, a travesty in and of itself. I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) would become their first hit in the UK, topping out at number 21 on the UK Singles chart.
18. The Cinema Show
The Cinema Show uses Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet characters to tell the story of a young couple getting ready for a date. Romeo is obviously looking to get Juliet back home with him. The characters’ names stemmed from Peter Gabriel, as they initially had no names to make it seem more universal. However, using the two famous characters’ names gave them more of an identity without sacrificing their universality.
19. No Reply At All
Another great entry from Genesis’ Abacab album, No Reply At All might be the catchiest song they ever produced. It defied all classifications, bringing in elements of funk, R&B, pop, and rock to make something that can’t be put in a singular box. It was also one of the few times Genesis brought in outside musicians for a song, seeing them use a horn section for part of the song. The music video was pretty funny, seeing band members miming the horn playing in the song.
Squonk is famously the song that showed Genesis that Phil Collins should be their new lead singer after Peter Gabriel left. After auditioning new singers, the only suitable applicant couldn’t get this one right. Collins, on the other hand, nailed the song and became the de facto leader of the band.
It’s one of Genesis’ heaviest songs, feeling more like Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir than the progressive arena rock they had been playing before, but that made it stand out and fans loved it.
21. Fading Lights
For many, Genesis ended when Phil Collins left the band despite them continuing to produce music. The final song of the final album that saw Collins work with the band was Fading Lights, and it sort of foreshadowed the band’s breakup. In general, it was an odd breakup, mostly because the band sort of drifted apart without major drama or beef, with Fading Lights serving as the perfect end to an amazing story.
It had everything you could ask for in a Genesis song, a sweet ballad that builds into a jam with drum machines and pianos whirling away in the background.
22. Since I Lost You
Since I Lost You was written by Phil Collins after his longtime friend and collaborator Eric Clapton lost his young son. It can serve as a lament for anyone who has lost a loved one. As with many Genesis songs, it was dual purpose. It closed the album alongside Fading Lights and was a bit of a send-off for Genesis as a band as Collins would leave shortly after the album was completed.
Here’s the sign that was eventually inspired by a line from Dancing with the Moonlit Knight. Paperlate was perhaps the best song to come from Genesis’ 3×3 EP and turned into a pretty big hit in the UK. As a single, it rose to number 10 on the UK Singles chart in 1982 and the song would find a home on the US version of their Three Sides Live album. In the US, it made it to number 32 on the Hot 100 while peaking at number two on the Mainstream Rock chart.
Entangled tackles Tony Banks’ experience with a psychiatrist and mental health problems as a whole. It served as the second track on their A Trick of the Tail album and was originally recorded back in 1975 in London. Steve Hackett played a major role in its composition of the lyrics as well, deeply inspired by Disney cartoons and music.
25. Land of Confusion
Land of Confusion probably isn’t something you could release today, at least not with a music video that took shots at big-wig politicians and celebrities around the world. It was probably their best music video, seeing as how it won them a Grammy Award.
Ultimately, it wound up as one of the band’s best-known songs, used for all manner of commercials, public broadcasts, and causes. While simplifying the world’s problems may not seem like a great thing, it made all the big things seem small and focused on individual responsibility, something we probably need more of today.
26. Your Own Special Way
Your Own Special Way was a very important song for Genesis. It was the only single to be released from the band’s eighth studio album Wind & Wuthering and was much more laid-back than their previous work. It wound up being the band’s first single to chart on the US Billboard Hot 100, eventually peaking at number 62. Oddly, it was only their second song to chart in the UK, making it to number 43 on the UK Singles chart.
It was also the last single the band would release with Steve Hackett on guitar until they re-recorded The Carpet Crawlers in 1999. In Genesis’ history, you can point to this song as the one that foreshadowed the stylistic direction the band took when they recorded their later string of hit singles.
27. Musical Box
Musical Box is an old Genesis gem that comes from their 1971 album Nursery Cryme. Easily the longest song on the album, it runs for a total of 10 and a half minutes. Despite being one of their songs that has been largely forgotten, Musical Box had a wide influence. Brian May, the guitarist for Queen, took inspiration from the song’s guitar solo and a Genesis tribute band would take the title for their band name.
28. In Too Deep
Long before Sum 41 gave us the alt-rock hit In Too Deep, Genesis recorded a very successful single by the same name. In Too Deep was the second single from the band’s Invisible Touch album in 1986 and gave the band one of their biggest US hits. It reached the number three position on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was a number-one single on the Adult Contemporary chart. In their native UK, it rose to number 19 on the UK Singles chart as well, becoming one of the band’s best-charting songs in their history.
29. Lilywhite Lilith
Another continuation of the story of Rael, Lilywhite Lilith was another one of the great songs on The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. In the song, the titular Lilith is a pale, blind woman that Rael meets while trying to find his way out of a chamber. She helps him escape and the song implies that she’s the only one who could help Rael, finally allowing him to find someone worthy of putting his faith in.
30. Hold on My Heart
Hold On My Heart was a bit of a refresher for Genesis fans, coming from their 14th studio album We Can’t Dance in 1991. Another one of their best ballads, it served as the album’s third single in 1992, finding plenty of chart success. In the US, Hold My Heart rose to number 12 on the Hot 100 and in the UK, it made it to number 16 on the UK Singles chart.
The title song of Genesis’ 1981 album couldn’t be left off of this list. It was one of their most-performed jams on the Abacab, Three Sides Live, and Mama tours and a smashing chart success. Abacab would make it to number nine on the British Pop chart and remained in the Hot 100 for six weeks on the other side of the Atlantic, peaking at number 26 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
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