Olivia Newton-John's 10 best songs ever, ranked

24 February 2021, 18:22

Olivia Newton John's best songs
Olivia Newton John's best songs. Picture: Paramount/YouTube

By Tom Eames

Olivia Newton-John was one of the most successful singers of the 1970s and 1980s.

The British-born Australian superstar reinvented herself over and over, from a sweet country singer to a Hollywood queen to an '80s pop princess.

We've picked just 10 of her very best for the ultimate Olivia Newton-John starter pack.

  1. Magic

    This was the lead single from the soundtrack to 1980's Xanadu movie, in which Olivia starred.

    It was a number one hit in the USA, and John Lennon named it as a recent song he liked in a Newsweek interview shortly before his death.

  2. Twist of Fate

    OK, the film reunion between Olivia and John Travolta in 1983's Two of a Kind didn't exactly recapture the success of Grease, but it did at least produce this single, which would be her final US hit.

    In fact, the single's B-side was a duet between the Grease stars, 'Take a Chance'.

  3. If Not for You

    Bob Dylan first recorded this song for his New Morning album. Soon after, he recorded a version with George Harrison after the breakup of the Beatles.

    A year later, Olivia covered George's version of the song, achieving her first hit single in the UK.

  4. A Little More Love

    Taken from her 11th album Totally Hot, this was Olivia's first single since she became a worldwide sensation in Grease.

    It gave her a top 10 hit around the world, including the UK and US in 1978.

  5. I Honestly Love You

    Olivia Newton-John achieved her first US number one single with this heartfelt ballad in 1974.

    It was written by Jeff Barry, a co-writer on many pop standards such as 'River Deep Mountain High'.

    Olivia re-recorded it in 1998 alongside soul singer Babyface.

  6. Summer Nights (with John Travolta)

    This Grease team-up with John Travolta and their fellow co-stars (we always feel bad that they don't get a namecheck in this one) was a huge single in 1978 around the world.

    OK, she may have been 30 at the time when playing a teenager, but she more than pulled it off.

  7. Xanadu (with ELO)

    The Xanadu musical film was a box office flop in 1980, but the soundtrack was a big success.

    This was largely helped by the film's title track, where Olivia teamed up with Jeff Lynne's ELO, who scored their only UK number one with it.

  8. You're the One that I Want (with John Travolta)

    Grease's climax saw Olivia's Sandy drop her wholesome image to become an honorary T-bird, much to the delight of John Travolta's Danny.

    Read more: Watch when Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta reunited for Grease classic

    Dodgy story morals aside, this became one of the biggest duets of all time, and made sure that Grease would be a much-loved musical over 40 years later.

  9. Physical

    Turned down by Rod Stewart and Tina Turner, Olivia scored the biggest hit of her career with this 1981 banger.

    It was a number one hit in the States for a massive 10 weeks, cementing her legacy as a pop queen forever.

    The song's suggestive lyrics caused it to be banned in some countries, and helped change her clean-cut image.

  10. Hopelessly Devoted to You

    Olivia's solo song from Grease is also her best ever tune, and perfectly summed up her kind of country-pop music of the time.

    Halfway through filming Grease, Olivia Newton-John's contractually-entitled solo song had yet to be written.

    Read more: Watch Olivia Newton-John and Mariah Carey's 'duet' on 'Hopelessly Devoted to You'

    John Farrar, her personal producer, wrote the song and submitted it to the film's production team. Although reluctant, it was approved, and it became one of the film's best-loved songs.