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Last updated on July 27th, 2023 at 07:54 am
Olivia Newton-John had a stellar five-decade-long career. Throughout, she gave us some of the most timeless songs from country to pop to adult contemporary and even some of the most beloved soundtrack numbers of the day. Some of Olivia-Newton John’s most popular songs are considered some of the most popular across any artist because of it.
With hundreds of top Olivia-Newton John songs to choose from, including 10 No. 1 hits and an additional 15 top 10 singles, it was hard to narrow it down, but here is our list of the 21 best Olivia Newton-John Songs.
While Olivia Newton-John has a stellar solo career, we’ll pay tribute to her work with others in her many musical films for this first entry on our list.
“Suddenly” was the love theme for the 1980 film Xanadu, which Newton-John performed alongside Cliff Richard, and became a major hit on the Adult Contemporary charts.
Our favorite thing about it was the music video recorded for the song, which featured the duo singing to each other in a penthouse. The video was part of her ABC TV special “Hollywood Nights” and aired ahead of the 52nd Academy Awards on Apr. 14, 1980.
20. “Soul Kiss”
“Soul Kiss” wasn’t one of the biggest Olivia Newton-John songs over the years, but it’s still one that we love to listen to every now and then.
Recorded for her 12th studio album of the same name, the synthpop sound of the song is one that we haven’t quickly forgotten.
19. “Look At Me I’m Sandra Dee”
Consider this your warning. “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” may be the first Grease song on our list of the best Olivia Newton-John songs, but it will not be the last.
Although Newton-John sang the reprise version during the 1978 film, it’s a pivotal moment as it becomes the last glimpse of the sweet innocent character we got to know throughout the entire movie before she stepped out in those classic leather leggings, leather jacket, and heels to a stunned Danny Zuko and the rest of the world.
It’s not just one of Olivia Newton John’s most popular songs because of it, but one of her most popular moments as well.
18. “Make a Move on Me”
We think it’s safe to say that fans “made a move” to purchase Olivia Newton-John’s Physical album after hearing “Make a Move on Me” on the radio.
The single, which peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), can only be described as a “saucy vocal solicitation and John Farrar’s production make pop-A/C magic,” according to Record World.
The song also became one of those Newton-John songs that other artists would later cover. Juliana Hatfield covered the song for her 2018 studio album, Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John.
17. “Let It Shine”
Olivia Newton-John wasn’t the first to record “Let It Shine,” but she is the one who made it famous, recording it for her sixth studio album, Clearly Love.
The song became another number-one hit for Newton-John on the US Easy Listening charts and peaked at number 30 and number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and US Country charts, respectively.
Linda Hargrove, the songwriter and original vocalist of the song in 1973, probably has a soft spot for the late Australian icon who helped put her music on the map.
16. “Banks of the Ohio”
This song is one of the creepier on our list of the best Olivia Newton-John songs, but perhaps that’s what makes us love it so much.
Originally recorded as a 19th-century murder ballad and written by unknown authors, “Banks of the Ohio” tells the story of a man named “Willie” who has his marriage proposal rejected by his young lover and subsequently murders her.
Olivia Newton-John recorded an arrangement of the song, prepared by John Farrar and Bruce Welch, for her 1971 studio album If Not for You, and became the singer’s first number-one hit in her native Australia.
The song was also covered by Johnny Cash.
15. “Deeper Than the Night”
“Deeper Than the Night” is one of those Olivia Newton-John songs that stands out most because of its heavy rock beat and killer guitar line.
The second single from the singer’s tenth studio album, Totally Hot, it’s no wonder that it led to it being one of the singer’s biggest hits on the adult contemporary charts peaking at number four in the United States and seven in Canada.
14. “Have You Never Been Mellow”
Olivia Newton-John raked in another Grammy nomination with this 1974 single off her fifth studio album of the same name.
Although “Have You Never Been Mellow,” written and produced by John Farrar, lost to Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen” For the Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, the song remains one of our favorites.
13. “Let Me Be There”
One of the more country-influenced songs on our best Olivia Newton-John songs list, “Let Me Be There,” was the singer’s first Top 10 hit in the United States.
The song earned the singer her first Grammy Award for the Best Female Country Vocal Performance and remains one of the most classic Olivia Newton-John songs ever recorded.
12. “Please, Mr. Please”
“Please Mr. Please” is one of Olivia Newton-John’s early career hits, recorded for her 1975 album Have You Never Been Mellow.
Who doesn’t love a song that seems to praise the greatness of a jukebox where you can listen to your favorite hits for a low price and then instantly can trigger bad memories when a new song is played?
The song was described by Record World as “Olivia’s most country-oriented outing yet will also speak as sweetly to her total audience for ‘Please’ pleases pop just as perfectly.”
11. “Xanadu” (with ELO)
Grease wasn’t the only film that Olivia Newton-John starred in that also produced some classic songs. Her duet “Xanadu” alongside the English rock band Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) was called a “winning combination” by reviewers from Billboard.
The song, which saw “Olivia taking Jeff Lynne’s usual sport as lead singer of ELO,” went on to reach number one across several European countries, from Austria to Belgium and Spain to the United Kingdom. Talk about international success, which is true for many Olivia Newton-John songs.
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10. “Summer Nights” (with John Travolta)
Yes, we’re getting nostalgic over Grease again, but it’s no secret that these songs became some of the most defining of Olivia Newton-John’s career.
“Summer Nights” is that first upbeat duet that really introduces viewers to the love duo of Danny and Sandy, and Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta certainly know how to sell it.
The backup supporting vocals by their co-stars, including Stockard Channing and Jeff Conaway, are just the icing on top of this perfect cake.
Unsurprisingly, it became one of the most popular songs of the summer in 1978 and remains a classic that lovers of the film go back to time and time again.
9. “If Not for You”
Olivia Newton-John released this Bob Dylan cover in 1971 as her first international single and reached No. 1 on the Billboard Easy Listening charts and the top 40 for the Billboard Hot 100.
While “If Not For You” wasn’t the song that pushed her into superstardom in the United States, it remains higher on our list of the best Olivia Newton-John songs because it was still her introduction to American fans.
The song was also featured on Beatle George Harrison’s first solo album All Things Must Pass.
8. “Twist of Fate”
“Twist of Fate” was the first single off the soundtrack for Olivia Newton-John’s 1983 film, Two of a Kind, which brought her back with her Grease co-star John Travolta yet again.
Written by Peter Beckett and Steve Kipner and produced by David Foster, the song is most famously recognized for its accompanying video, which earned a nomination for the Best Video, Short Film at the 27th annual Grammy Awards.
7. “I Honestly Love You”
We couldn’t have a best Olivia Newton-John songs list without including her 1974 hit “I Honestly Love You” making an appearance.
Recorded for her If You Love Me, Let Me Know album, also known as Long Live Love in the UK, the single earned her two Grammy Awards for the Record of the Year and the Best Pop Vocal Performances, respectively.
6. “A Little More Love”
“A Little More Love” appeared on Olivia Newton-John’s tenth studio album, Totally Hot, and we’ve been in love with it ever since and will always be one of our favorite Olivia Newton-John songs.
The song gave us a glimpse of Newton-John’s ability to go a little bit rock following a stream of pop and country hits and made us realize just how versatile she could be.
5. “You’re the One That I Want” (with John Travolta)
Olivia Newton-John alongside Saturday Night Fever’s John Travolta for the 1978 film Grease was a pairing the world and fans everywhere didn’t know we needed.
Already in love with Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson by the end of the film, the “You’re the One That I Want” duet has become one of the biggest hits of the film, selling more than 4 million copies across the United States and Britain, and an estimated more than 15 million copies worldwide.
As Record World put it, “It’s a frantic, up-tempo duet between the two stars that is bound to leave listeners breathless.”
“Magic” was the lead single for Olivia Newton-John’s 1980 musical fantasy Xanadu and quickly became one of her biggest hits at the time, with Record World calling it an “infectious pop ballad [that] has a big beat production team.”
Billboard even ranked it as the third most popular song of the year after “Call Me” by Blondie and “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” by Pink Floyd.
The song also sparked some legal troubles after it was used during a musical performance at a high school without permission.
During the lawsuit, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit called the song “a vehicle of inspiration for the pursuit of one’s dreams and love.”
3. “If You Love Me (Let Me Know)”
This 1974 hit, written by John Rostill, was included on a compilation album of the same name and was the second single to reach the top 10 in the United States for Olivia Newton-John, further solidifying herself as an up-and-coming artist.
The single went on to be nominated for a Country Music Association (CMA) Award for Single of the Year. It was later performed alongside Andy Gibb and ABBA for the 1978 ABC-TV special Olivia!
A cover of this track was one of the last songs Elvis ever recorded.
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For any artist who wants to continue reinventing the wheel, it’s essential to release a song that can be considered a “career-reviver.” According to Smash Hits, that’s what Olivia Newton-John did with her single “Physical” off her eleventh studio album of the same name, and brought the world yet another top Olivia-Newton John song to add to their playlists.
The song became the most successful of the singer’s career and was her last ever number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. It also earned Newton-John her fourth Grammy Award in 1982 for Video of the Year.
Initially intended for rocker Rod Stewart, we can’t imagine anyone but Newton-John singing this upbeat hit that critics have described as an “80s gem” and “good-naturedly sexy.”
1. “Hopelessly Devoted to You”
Is it really a surprise that “Hopelessly Devoted to You” would top our list of the best Olivia Newton-John songs? This 1978 single was not just the ballad of Sandy Olsson in Grease but the most iconic of Newton-John’s long career.
The song earned her an Oscar nomination, and she brought the house down during her performance of the song at the 21st annual Grammy Awards.
Written and produced by John Farrar, Newton-John sings about her character’s tumultuous feelings towards bad boy Danny Zuko, played by John Travolta, who blows her off to be with his T-bird friends.
What woman couldn’t relate to that scenario in their young teenage years?
This song proves that the world will always be “Hopelessly Devoted” to the Australian singer for as long as we live.
We’ll be listening to these top Olivia Newton-John songs until we die.
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