Music News

Retroactive

In 1978, Grease was the word. And Olivia Newton-John proved she could be America's darling as both the sweet, sweater-clad character seen throughout most of the movie -- and the black-leather bad girl glimpsed at the end. Starring with a young, lean John Travolta in the cinematic romp that's still the top movie musical ever, Newton-John attained superstar status after being sewn into impossibly tight pants for Grease's final scene. The film's phenomenal popularity surpassed all her prior success -- namely, 1971's hit cover of Bob Dylan's "If Not for You." Chart-busting soundtrack singles helped Australia's songbird become pop's queen, especially impressive when her music's enduring power is compared to contemporaries like Diana Ross (but try finding a twelve-year-old girl who knows any of Ms. Ross's numbers). Syrupy ballads sometimes grate after puberty's passed or heartbreak's over, but ONJ's up-tempo classics are impossible to forget and make for some good "guilty pleasures." While Xanadu tanked at the box office (despite Gene Kelly's help), its title track was a roller-disco favorite, now pure nostalgic gold. And even the most lethargic listener must tap a toe to the irresistible hook in "Physical." With vocals that swoop from wholesome to seductive to soulful, Newton-John's albums are always interesting. While her addictive melodies and ultra-catchy rhythms netted her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the several Humanitarian Awards earned by this breast-cancer survivor and activist far outshine her musical accomplishments. You have to believe we are magic when Newton-John performs at Colorado's State Fair this Wednesday, September 1 and at Universal Lending Pavilion on Thursday, September 2.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Catalina Soltero
Contact: Catalina Soltero