Olivia Newton-John celebrated her 65th birthday on Sept. 26. Along with her many hits songs, the English-born Australian singer and actress is best known for playing Sandy in the film adaptation of “Grease.” She has sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide. Earlier this year, she toured the U.K. and participated in events to raise funds for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Center in Melbourne, Australia. This week, The List looks at Miss Newton-John’s Top 10 hits.
- 10. Suddenly (1980) — While “Xanadu” bombed as a film, the soundtrack produced three big hits for Miss Newton-John, including this duet with British pop king Cliff Richard. The song reached No. 20 in the U.S. and No. 15 in the U.K.
- 9. Physical (1981) — This is probably Miss Newton-John’s best known song and her biggest selling hit in America, remaining at No. 1 spot for a stunning 10 weeks. It was an edgier song and a departure from her soft-rock persona. It was nominated for a Grammy and also won the Billboard Award for top single. It was her fifth and final No. 1 chart-topper. It peaked at No. 7 in Britain.
- 8. Please Mr. Please (1975) — John Welch and John Rostill, both members of Cliff Richard’s backup band the Shadows, wrote this song about a jukebox. Mr. Welch had recorded the song himself with no success. It reached No. 3 on the Billboard 100 and No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It remained in the Top 40 for 12 weeks.
- 7. Xanadu (1980) — This was the title song from the album “Xanadu” and the soundtrack to the 1980 film of the same name. The song was performed with the Electric Light Orchestra and peaked at No. 8 in the U.S. It was Miss Newton-John’s third and final No. 1 in the U.K. and ELO’s only No. 1 hit.
- 6. You’re the One That I Want (1978) — This duo with John Travolta and the cast from the movie “Grease” was a huge international hit, selling more than 6.5 million copies worldwide and topping the charts in 12 countries. It was No. 1 on Billboard Top 100 for just one week but stayed nine weeks at the top in the U.K., where it sold 2 million copies and is the fifth biggest-selling single of all time. Billboard named it the 24th-biggest pop duet of all time.
- 5. Hopelessly Devoted to You (1978) — Written by Australian songwriter and producer John Farrar (of the Shadows), this song appeared in the movie “Grease” and received an Oscar nomination as best original song. Miss Newton-John sang it at the 21st Grammy Awards. It peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard chart and No. 2 on the British charts. Mr. Farrar wrote many of Miss Newton-John’s hits, including four that reached No. 1.
- 4. Magic (1980) — This was Miss Newton-John’s fourth No. 1 hit and spent 16 weeks on the Billboard Top 100. It was from the soundtrack to the film “Xanadu” and her biggest hit until “Physical.” Billboard magazine ranked “Magic” as the third-most popular single of 1980, behind only “Call Me” by Blondie and “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II” by Pink Floyd. It flopped in the U.K., reaching only No. 32.
- 3. I Honestly Love You (1974) — This was one of Miss Newton-John’s finest songs, winning Grammy Awards for female pop vocal performance and record of the year. It became her first No. 1 hit in the U.S. and went on to sell more than 2 million copies. The single failed to reach the top 20 in the U.K.
- 2. If Not For You (1971) — Miss Newton-John had millions of young boys’ hearts beating when she broke onto the pop scene singing this Bob Dylan classic. Her first hit song reached No. 25 on the Billboard Top 100 and No. 7 on the British charts. The song previously had been recorded by ex-Beatle George Harrison.
- 1. Have You Never Been Mellow (1975) — This was Miss Newton-John’s second consecutive No. 1 in the U.S. It was written and produced by John Farrar and also peaked at No. 3 on the Hot Country Singles charts. The song received a Grammy nomination for best female pop vocal performance.
Did you know, that Miss Newton-John is the maternal granddaughter of Nobel Prize-winning German atomic scientist Max Born? Her father, Brinley Newton-John, was an MI5 officer who took Rudolf Hess, Adolph Hitler’s deputy fuhrer, into custody during World War II.
Sources: Billboard, officialcharts.com, songfacts.com, Wikipedia, Sunday News (Lancaster, Pa.), Newcastle (Australia) Herald
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