For the week ending Nov. 1, 1986, the single “Land of Confusion” from Genesis debuted at #64 on the Billboard Hot 100. At the same time, the band’s previous single, “Throwing It All Away,” was at #12. It had been on the single charts for 12 weeks and had peaked at #4 (“Land of Confusion” would also peak at #4).
1986 was a good year for Genesis. Invisible Touch, their 13th studio album and their most pop-oriented recording to date, received positive reviews and sold 15 million copies worldwide. The LP produced five Top 5 singles in the US, including the title track’s journey to #1 earlier in the summer (the band’s first and only #1 single in the US).
Amid its solid beat, “Land of Confusion” is at its heart a protest song — a rarity for the charts in the 1980s. It was a rally call for worldwide personal involvement in the political and economic policies of the day. The success of the single is attributed to its music video, which incorporated puppets from the UK’s hit satire program Spitting Image. The puppeteers even created likenesses of Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford. Cultural allusions, both political and pop, abound.
The video for “Land of Confusion” would be nominated for Best Video of the Year at the MTV Music Awards, only to lose to their former band mate, Peter Gabriel, and his “Sledgehammer” video.