Illegal Alien (song)

"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 in the UK charts.[1]

"Illegal Alien"
Illegal Alien Single.jpg
Single by Genesis
from the album Genesis
B-side"Turn It On Again" (Live)
Released23 January 1984
Format7", 12"
GenrePop rock
Length4:33 (45) 5:14 (LP)
LabelAtlantic, 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"


The song's lyrics are a satirical[2] depiction of the frustrations an illegal Mexican immigrant faces in coming to the United States, leading up to the chorus: "It's no fun being an illegal alien." [3] The second stanza of the bridge — in which the trespasser 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. Writing a quarter-century after its release Wired Magazine's Scott Thill called the video "a train wreck" [4].

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

Music videoEdit

The song's music 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 performancesEdit

"Illegal Alien" was only played live in its entirety during the Mama Tour.[5] A live version is featured on disc two of Genesis Archive 2: 1976–1992, which was recorded live at the L.A. Forum, 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 listingsEdit

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)[6] 41
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 46
US Billboard Hot 100 44


  1. ^ Genesis UK chart history, The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  2. ^ It's No Fun Bein' A Really Good Genesis Song. The A.V. Club; 2/5/2018.
  3. ^ Revisiting Genesis' Self-Titled 1983 Album. Ultimate Classic Rock website; Oct 5, 2013.
  4. ^ Scott Hill, Genesis’ “Illegal Alien:” Worst Song Ever? Or Worst Video Ever? Wired, May 30, 2008.
  5. ^ Mama Tour Songs & Dates
  6. ^ "Canadian peak". Archived from the original on 3 January 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2012.

External linksEdit