The original single version of “In the Air Tonight” features extra drums that play underneath the song until the signature drum crash appears. These were added at the suggestion of Atlantic Records head Ahmet Ertegun. In 2007, Collins wrote:
Ahmet came down to the final mix in the cutting room in New York (. . .) The drums don’t come in until the end but Ahmet didn’t know that at this point, because on the demo the drums hadn’t come in at all; it was only drum machine all the way. And he was saying, ‘Where’s the down beat, where’s the backbeat?’ I said, ‘The drums come in in a minute.’ ‘Yeah, you know that and I know that, but the kids don’t know that; you’ve got to put the drums on earlier.’ So we added some drums to the mix and put it out as a single.