Song of the Day #5,159: ‘Twist of Fate’ – Olivia Newton-John

Olivia Newton-John’s film career hit a major bump with just her second movie appearance. She starred as a roller skate-clad muse opposite Michael Beck and Gene Kelly in the 1980 musical Xanadu, a film so bad it led to the creation of the Golden Raspberry Awards.

The glitzy groan-fest has become something of a cult classic since, and even inspired a Broadway musical in 2007 that was nominated for multiple Tonys. But at the time, the film was a massive misstep.

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Song of the Day #5,158: ‘A Little More Love’ – Olivia Newton-John

RIding high on the success of Grease, Olivia Newton-John released her most successful album to date later in 1978. Totally Hot featured the formally wholesome chanteuse clad in leather, mirroring the transformation her Sandy made in Grease.

I remember perusing this album cover among my sister’s vinyl collection, intrigued by how grown-up and dangerous Newton-John looked (this must have been years later, given that I was just six when it came out).

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Song of the Day #5,157: ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ – Olivia Newton-John

After back-to-back #1 hit albums, Olivia Newton-John released four albums over the next three years with diminishing returns, sales-wise. She continued to place singles atop the Adult Contemporary chart (seven in a row at one point) and high on the Country chart, but didn’t enjoy as much crossover success.

Among the songs she recorded during this span are covers of Dolly Parton (‘Jolene’) and The Beatles (‘The Long and Winding Road’), show tunes (‘Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina’), and a track titled ‘Don’t Stop Believin” that isn’t the one by Journey.

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Song of the Day #5,156: ‘Have You Never Been Mellow’ – Olivia Newton-John

Olivia Newton-John followed up her #1-charting compilation album If You Love Me, Let Me Go with her second straight #1 album, 1975’s Have You Never Been Mellow.

Released just five months apart, the dual chart-toppers gave Newton-John a Guinness World Record for the shortest span between consecutive #1 albums by a female artist. She held that record for 45 years, until Taylor Swift beat it by 14 days with the 2020 releases of folklore and evermore.

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Song of the Day #5,155: ‘If You Love Me (Let Me Know)’ – Olivia Newton-John

Last week I featured five unexpected performances by Joni Mitchell, an artist many thought would never perform again due to health problems.

Now, I have a sadder mission. A week ago today, beloved singer-actress Olivia Newton-John passed away at just 73, presumably succumbing to the cancer she has battled for more than 30 years.

I have long been a fan of Newton-John’s. I had a childhood crush on her that has persisted to this day. I love her iconic turn as Sandy in Grease and I count at least one of her songs among my all-time favorites.

This week I will honor the great British-Australian talent by featuring five of her songs.

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