Olivia Newton-John has left an important mark on music and entertainment in her 55-year career. Even if one simply knows Newton-John from her role as Sandy Olsson alongside John Travolta in the 1978 blockbuster musical, Grease, that is still an impressive legacy to leave. While Grease was a massive success and has gone down in movie history, Newton-John has also had an incredibly successful solo music career of her own.
From the mid-60s to the early 1980s and beyond, the British-Australian singer saw great success, earning countless number one hits. Newton-John was a multi-genre artist who made her mark in pop, country, and adult contemporary and took home Grammy Awards, as well as Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association awards. It's hard to pair down all Newton-John's hits into a short list -- there's her first hit, "Banks of the Ohio," the sentimental "Don't Stop Believin,'" and the classic "Summer Nights" just to name a few -- but for the purpose of this list, here are 10 of Olivia Newton-John's greatest hits.
10. "Please Mr. Please"
Released from her sixth studio album, Have You Never Been Mellow, in 1975, "Please Mr. Please" is one of Newton-John's songs that showcase the country-leaning side of the singer. The song was written by Bruce Welch and John Rostill, two members of Cliff Richards' backing band, The Shadows. In the acoustic song, Newton-John sings about the pain of hearing a song that reminds her of an old relationship on the jukebox at a bar. She pleads with the "button-pushing cowboy" playing the song to stop playing it so she can spare her heart. The track went on to become Newton-John's fifth consecutive Top ten hit, peaking at No. 5 on the Country chart and spending three weeks atop the Adult Contemporary chart.
9. "Let Me Be There"
Prior to "Please Mr. Please," Newton-John released "Let Me Be There," the title track of her third album, in 1973. The track was another country-influenced one from the singer and is a positive, upbeat tune about being there for someone. The song served as Newton-John's breakout hit, becoming her first to land in the Top Ten. It went on to peak at No. 7 on the Country chart, No. 3 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also won Newton-John the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, and she also took home the ACM Award for Most Promising Female Vocalist the year it was released.
8. "A Little More Love"
Fast-forward to 1979 after the success of Grease and the songs that came along with the movie, Olivia Newton-John released "A Little More Love." In this peppy tune from her Totally Hot album, the singer offers "A Little More Love" to a relationship. The song came close to topping the charts, landing at No. 4 on the Adult Contemporary chart, No. 7 on the Country chart and No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
7. "Have You Never Been Mellow"
In 1975, Newton-John continued the success that started with "Let Me Be There" with the release of "Have You Never Been Mellow" from the album of the same name. This song, which falls in Newton-John's early country-learning days, finds the singer showcasing her diverse range as she asks a love interest to try to be mellow, happy and "let someone else be strong." The track became the singer's second consecutive No. 1 song across the board (the first of which will be covered next). It also earned her a Grammy nomination in 1975.
6. "I Honestly Love You"
Prior to releasing "Have You Never Been Mellow," Newton-John released "I Honestly Love You," from her If You Love Me, Let Me Know album. While "Let Me Be There," released one year earlier, got Newton-John in the door, "I Honestly Love You" became her very first big hit. With a mix of piano, guitar and strings, "I Honestly Love You" serves as a stirring love song to a love interest. The song's lyrics are somewhat simple, but they allow Newton-John to show her pure emotion. The song became a worldwide hit, topping most of the charts and taking home Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1974. Newton-John released a new version of the song on her 1998 album, Back with a Heart.
Two years after starring in the worldwide blockbuster musical, Grease, Olivia Newton-John took front and center in another musical film, Xanadu. The film, also starring Michael Beck and Gene Kelly, was unfortunately nowhere near as successful as Grease, but the soundtrack was a hit. The title track of the soundtrack is titled "Xanadu" and features Electric Light Orchestra on backup vocals and instrumentation. The song was also written by Electric Light Orchestra's Jeff Lynne. Although the movie wasn't a hit, "Xanadu" the song hit No. 1 on charts all overt the world.
Another massive hit from the Xanadu soundtrack was "Magic," released as the lead single from the project. This upbeat song which clearly signals entrance into the 1980s pop era spent four weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also earned Newton-John a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and became her biggest hit until the number song on this list came along.
3. "Hopelessly Devoted To You"
Although the next two songs on the list weren't as impactful on the charts as "Magic," one can't argue their ongoing cultural significance due to the influence of the original motion picture, Grease. The first of these, "Hopelessly Devoted To You," is a sweeping balled in which Newton-John, playing the part of Sandy, pledges her devotion to her love interest, Danny Zuko (played by John Travolta). Newton-John famously sings the song in the movie dressed in a white night gown. The song was officially released as the third single from Grease: The Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture and topped world charts. The song has found a second life in the past year, as it became a popular tune on the video-sharing app, TikTok.
2. "You're The One That I Want"
Arguably one of the most popular and recognizable songs from Grease, "You're The One That I Want," features Newton-John and Travolta singing alongside one another as their characters, Sandy and Danny. In the movie scene, Sandy reveals her new "greaser" look, and after uttering the famous phrase, "Tell me 'bout it, stud," the two launch into the tune while dancing across the screen. Fueled by the movie, the song became one of the best-selling singles in history with an estimated 15 million singles sold all over the world. It was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award in 1978 for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture by John Farrar.
The song that tops the list of the best Olivia Newton-John songs is the one that was, without a doubt, her biggest hit and one of her most iconic. Released in 1981, "Physical" is a fast-paced pop song with lyrics that were risque for the times. The song was even banned by radio in some markets, but it served to evolve Newton-John's image from clean-cut to more sensual. "Physical" was an unmitigated hit, spending ten weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 and making waves all over the world. And one can never forget the song's humorous music video, showing Newton-John, in a classic '80s leotard, trying to help overweight men work out. She soon leaves the gym, and when she returns, they've magically gotten in perfect shape.
Honorable mentions: "If Not For You," "Come On Over," "Long Live Love," "Make A Move On Me," "Heart Attack," "Twist Of Fate," "Soul Kiss," and "The Rumour."