Posts Tagged ‘Xanadu’
(making it the #1 song of the 1980′s), the album went double platinum and peaked at #6. On top of that it marks the pinnacle of OLiViA NEWTON-JOHN’S career. The song was impossible to escape and it allowed her to distance herself even further from her goody-goody image. Most of all, its a damn good album.
Chopping off her long blond hair and opting for a somewhat foxier image, PHYSiCAL presented ONJ as a full-blown mega superstar. Picking up where TOTALLY HOT and XANADU left off PHYSiCAL skillfully balances catchy yet mellow dance cuts with immaculately crafted pop and ballads. The title track of course is the best example of the dance side, but LANDSLiDE, MAKE A MOVE ON ME, PROMiSE (THE DOLPHiN SONG) illustrate that PHYSiCAL wasn’t a one-hit record at all – if anything they hold up better than the big hit. Comparatively from the bulk of her 1970′s albums which had 79% filler – PHYSiCAL has a much stronger sense of focus and concept.
Production-wise as well – PHYSiCAL is ONJ’S most well crafted album; fun and very crisp, her vocals sound a far cry away from the wispy days of iF NOT FOR YOU. She had clearly become a much more confident vocalist, sounding especially strong on SiLVERY RAiN, CARRiED AWAY and LOVE MAKE ME STRONG.
PHYSiCAL also spawned a corresponding video album of the same name, an industry first that helped launch the nascent long-form music video market. Each of the album’s songs had its own corresponding promotional video, also allowing fans a chance to see ONJ as a sleek, aerobics devotee, as well as numerous other trendy characters, such as a kinky high power boss (LANDSLiDE), and yoga chick (CARRiED AWAY). A surreal streak runs through a few shorts, especially RECOVERY, in which she rides a horse through a desert, encounters a cage full of men in tuxedos, and wanders through a painting. ABC broadcast the video as LET’S GET PHYSiCAL and launched her on a major summer tour that had her jumping and hamming it up on stages worldwide. She was EVERYWHERE.
ONJ never was quite able to fully recapture the success of PHYSiCAL, nor did she ever capitalize off of her new-found image, at least in my opinion. I’m sure if I could go back in time I would find OLiViA circa 1980 and slap her silly into truly embracing a sexier image, if her real desire was to extend herself as an artist. Oh the potential there was – but luckily it does still exist for those of us who enjoy our pop perfections. The plus side is that she paved the way for MADONNA, CYNDi LAUPER, SHEENA EASTON and PAT BENETAR – not to mention many of artists today by setting a certain precedence. The downside is that for her she would never be able to sustain her own status as one of the top female pop singers of her time.