The Australian singer Olivia Newton-John has reinvented herself countless times over her career, transforming from a sweet, girl next door type to a raunchy pop diva, a country singer to a disco queen. Now in her 70s, she’s got four Grammy Awards, 15 Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten singles (including 5 numbers ones), and two No. 1 albums under her belt. With album sales of around 100 million, she’s one of the best-selling artists of all time. Here’s our pick of the 10 best Olivia Newton-John songs of all time.
10. I Honestly Love You
In 1974, Newton-John scooped her first US and Canadian No.1 with the heartfelt ballad, I Honestly Love You. It also reached No. 1 in Australia and Sweden. The following year, it picked up the Grammy for Record of the Year, as well as the award for Female Pop Vocal Performance.
9. Twist of Fate
In 1983, Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta tried to recapture the magic of “Grease” in “Two of a Kind.” They didn’t exactly succeed, but the film did at least give us Twist of Fate, a surprisingly rocking number written by Peter Beckett and Steve Kipner and produced by David Foster. Released as the first single from the soundtrack album in October 1983, it peaked at No 4. in Australia and Canada and No. 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
8. Please Mr. Please
Please Mr. Please was written by Bruce Welch and John Rostill of Cliff Richard’s backing band, The Shadows. Welsh released the song in 1974, but it sunk without trace. A year later, Olivia Newton-John came along and plucked it from obscurity with her version. Released as the final single from her fifth studio album, Have You Never Been Mellow, it peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 5 on the country chart, and spent three weeks at No. 1 on the adult contemporary chart.
7. A Little More Love
By 1978, Olivia Newton-John was firmly established as one of the decade’s most popular pop princesses. She consolidated her reign with the release of her tenth studio album, Totally Hot, her most successful album of the decade and her first to be certified platinum in the US. Its lead single, A Little More Love, was just as successful as the album, reaching No. 4 in the UK, No. 3 in the US, and No. 2 in Canada.
6. You Have to Believe
Next up is You Have to Believe, a late-career hit that proved Newton-John is still everyone’s favorite singer from down under. A re-working of her 1980 single Magic, the electronic dance song was produced by DJ/remixer/producer Dave Audé and features guest vocals from Newton-John’s daughter, singer/actress Chloe Lattanzi. Released in August 2015, the song was a smash, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs – the highest charting position of any song by a mother/daughter duo in history.
In 1980, Olivia Newton-John starred in “Xanadu.” The film was a massive flop, but the accompanying soundtrack generated some of the biggest hits of her career. One of them was the title track, a song lent additional star power by the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). ELO’s Jeff Lynne has called it the best song he’s ever written – clearly, a lot of people agreed, as the song went on to become a major hit, spending two weeks at No. 1 in the UK and peaking at No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
Smooth Radio has named Magic as one of Newton-John’s best ever songs. They aren’t the only ones who’ve fallen under its spell – shortly before his death, John Lennon called it one of his favorite songs, and if anyone knew a thing or two about good music, it was him. Released as the lead single from the soundtrack to the 1980 movie “Xanadu,” it became one of the biggest hits of the year, spending four weeks at No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and topping the charts in multiple other countries.
3. You’re the One That I Want
There can’t be many people in the world that haven’t seen Grease at least once. There can’t be many that haven’t sung along to You’re the One That I Want either. It’s one of the film’s most iconic songs, and one of Newton-John’s biggest hits. Released in May 1978 as the second single from Grease: The Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture, it was a global sensation, reaching No. 1 in the US, UK, Australia, Belgium, New Zealand and multiple other countries. To date, it’s sold more than 15 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles in history.
Next up is Physical, a song that managed to outdo the likes of Barry White and Marvin Gaye to be voted the sexiest song of all time by Billboard. Released in 1981 from her twelfth studio album of the same name, the song was accompanied by a video of Newton-John working out at a gym, but with lyrics like “I took you to an intimate restaurant, then to a suggestive movie/There’s nothing left to talk about unless it’s horizontally,” we knew she had more on her mind than aerobics. Despite being banned on multiple radio stations across the world for its suggestive lyrics, the song shot to the top of the charts in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Belgium, spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and peaked at No. 7 in the UK.
1. Hopelessly Devoted to You
Who can resist a bit of “Grease” magic? The first time we heard Hopelessly Devoted to You, Sandy was singing it to Danny. But the song proved bigger than the movie, giving Newton-John one of her most enduringly popular hits. In 2004, its writer and producer, John Farrar, recalled to debbiekruger.com that the song took longer to write than anything else he’s ever written, saying he used “every thesaurus and every rhyming dictionary I had, just trying to really make it work properly”. The effort wasn’t wasted. Released in August 1978, it peaked at No. 2 in Australia, No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and gave Newton-John her first top 20 hit on the country charts in two years. It even managed to pick up an Oscar nomination for Best Orginal Song.