December 7, 2012

Olivia Newton-John Top Ten

Olivia Newton-John, the All-American Girl (Aussie woman) with a long and prosperous musical career, has just released her new duet video with John Travolta: I Think You Might Like It.  Hoping to capitalize on the immortal success of You're the One That I Want from Grease, the two gather together once more for a benefit Christmas album, This Christmas

It's a pretty harmless piece of fluff- with a wonderful car- but it got me thinking about how Olivia has had some incredible successes along the way. So, I'd like to present my Top Ten favorite Olivia songs. Your mileage may vary. In no particular order:

"Deeper Than A River" (1992): Though long past her hit making days, this country tinged ballad had all the right elements- and it had me looking once again at a vocalist I'd mostly forgotten.

"I Can't Help It" (1980): Duet with the late Andy Gibb.  It's the perfect match of breathy vocals from both and a delicate but simply effective arrangement. A piece of perfect late night ear candy. Made my long evening drives on a delivery route all the more enjoyable.

"Hopelessly Devoted to You" (1978): The Grease solo smash- still love it to this day. You just have to not like music to not appreciate the retro coolness of this record.

"Dancin'" (1980): This 40's meets 80's blend with punk rockers The Tubes shocked me upon first watch at the movies (Xanadu). But I loved it immediately. Layers and layers of Olivia vocals with a swinging beat and big band style. Guilty perfection. Who could ask for more! (Well, maybe a full version of the song with The Tubes edited out?!?)

"Summertime" (2004): From the Indigo-Women of Song project. I had wrongly thought we needed to leave the basement register vocals to Karen Carpenter. I was wrong. Olivia hits bottom in a good way, and the end result is a perfectly respectable take on an American classic.

"Make A Move On Me" (1981): From the Physical album. The keyboard works hard against a spunky and convincing Olivia begging for something better to do- "Won't you spare me all the charms, and take me in your arms." This song had men everywhere getting in line to take her up on the offer.

"Dancin' Round and Round" (1978): From the first album post-Grease, Olivia threw in this gentle country cut. All around a Totally Hot album.

"Lovers" (1975): To some, this was a toss away song and album. Yet this quiet tale of the effects of love lost was quite mature in the midst of songs about puppies, brotherly devotion, and summer love.

"The Way You Look Tonight" (1989): After the failed attempt at cashing in once too many times on the nice-girl-gone-bad image (Soul Kiss), Olivia returned to a nice girl as a new mommy. The home project brought her one of her most beautiful albums, Warm and Tender. Nice, very nice.

"You're the One That I Want" (1978): I couldn't help it. It's pure fun, pure magic- and who can resist singing along with the chorus?  C'mon. You know you want to.

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