Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Physical" by Olivia Newton-John

#1 Alert!
Platinum Alert!
Song#:  0769
Date:  10/03/1981
Debut:  66
Peak:  1 (10 weeks)
Weeks:  26
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  With two major hits in 1981 spending nine weeks each at #1 ("Bette Davis Eyes" and "Endless Love"), what were the chances an even bigger hit would come along? Not likely - but it happened. Newton-John's image and music had been changing to more mainstream pop with her #1 hit "Magic" foreshadowing what was to come. But no one expected this title-track to her new album to take over the airwaves and be a pop culture reference for years after. The song was an immediate smash and its 10-week #1 run tied the longest streak in the rock era originally set by Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" in 1977. The song would go on to be the #1 song for 1982 and after the decade finished, it would be the #1 chart song and best-selling single of the 80s. Newton-John would also receive a Grammy nod for Best Pop Vocal Performance Female.

ReduxReview:  This is a classic 80s hit, but I can't say that it is one of my favorites. I did like it when it came out and everyone was talking about the video, but I never really understood why it was such a huge hit - except for the fact that it was around this time the aerobics movement was beginning and Jane Fonda's video was about ready to be unleashed. The song holds up surprisingly well and I enjoy it when it plays, but for me there are several other ONJ songs that I think are better than this single.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) This song was originally pitched as "Let's Get Physical" and suggested for Rod Stewart.  2) The lyrics are tame by today's standards, but in 1981 they caused a stir with some radio stations banning the song.  3) The comical video which played up the physical aspect at a gym caused issues on its own when at the end the now in-shape guys ignore Newton-John and walk out hand-in-hand. The gay nature of the ending caused some stations who played the video to cut out of it early. And despite the comedic nature, some considered it too sexy and it was banned by some stations in Canada and the UK. Newton-John's full video of the album, "Olivia Physical," would win a Grammy for Video of the Year.



  1. Oddly during the 9 of 10 weeks when this song went #1 Foreigner's "Waiting For A Girl Like You" remained stuck at #2, I personally thought "Waiting" was the better song over "Physical" while I agree "Physical" is a much easier song to get into.

    1. The song still holds the record for most weeks at #2 without hitting #1. Although in 2003 Missy Elliott's "Work It" tied that record. While it should have had (and deserved) a turn at #1, it's pretty cool that the song ended up making chart history.