Physical - Olivia Newton-John - 80sneverend - You need to be physical!

You need to be physical!

Olivia Newton-John – Physical

I took you to an intimate restaurant
Then to a suggestive movie
There's nothing left to talk about
Unless it's horizontally
Let's get physical, physical
#Physical #OliviaNewtonJohn

Olivia Newton-John was one of the absolute stars of the early 80s. Three years after the worldwide success of Grease, which was released in the summer of 1978, Sandy, who by the end of the film had already transformed with leather clothes and seductive attitudes, is now definitely Olivia, a singer and complete star ready to conquer the world again.

In 1981, the authors Terry Shaddick and Steve Kipner wrote a rather explicit song, thinking of a male performer who was relevant to the female audience. They were thinking of Rod Stewart, but one of Olivia’s managers heard the song (Kipner himself was a great friend of Olivia’s) and decided to propose it to her.

Olivia initially declined because the song seemed a little too cheeky and explicit, but luckily she changed her mind. Actually, she wasn’t the only one with this opinion! Even Steve Lukather, Toto’s guitarist who performed the song’s guitar solos, was quite direct in saying that he did not believe in this song, that it had no chance of success.

It must be said that Lukather had the same feeling also for other famous songs by Toto, which instead became planetary hits, such as “Africa” and “Rosanna“, songs on which at first he would not bet a penny.

And so “Physical” (the original title was supposed to be “Let’s get physical”) was released on September 28, 1981, two days after Olivia’s 33rd birthday, and it was one of the best moments to release a song if it had a good video.

Yes, because as we know MTV had just started its broadcasts, on August 1 of that same year, and so if you had a good video there were very good chances that they would broadcast again and again, because they really hadn’t many good videos!!

The video for “Physical” was instrumental in the song’s success. If the title of the song was quite explicit about the type of physicality, the video totally changed its scope and referred it to the tone of the human body. After all, we were in the full era of aerobic gym! And so we all remember the video set in a gym where Olivia tries in every way to get a group of mid aged fat men back in shape, without results.

But when Olivia goes out to the locker, without her the gentlemen get busy, and when she comes back she no longer recognizes them: they are slimmed down, much more muscular, and they look even younger. There’s a little detail, which might be less ironic today than it sounded in 1981: those muscular guys come out in pairs holding hands with each other. But luckily there’s still one for Olivia; he isn’t quite as toned and muscular as the others and is still a bit overweight, but in the end he’s what Olivia was looking for.

The song was a hit first in the United States, probably thanks to the spell that Olivia Newton-John’s name still exercised, and then also in Europe and many other countries, such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada. There were also remote areas of the United States where local radio stations refused to broadcast the song because of the lyrics, which, however, were very explicit.

In any case, “Physical” remains one of the great songs of the early 80s, and gave us a new Olivia Newton-John, but still a world-class star.

Olivia Newton-John on Wikipedia

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