Saturday, July 29, 1978

July 29, 1978: Grease soundtrack hit #1

First posted July 29, 2011. Last updated September 2, 2018.

Grease (soundtrack)

Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta, et al

Released: April 14, 1978


Sales (in millions):
US: 14.0
UK: 2.37
IFPI: --
World (estimated): 40.4


Peak:
US: 112
UK: 113
Canada: 17
Australia: 114

Quotable: --


Genre: show tunes


Album Tracks:

  1. Grease (FRANKIE VALLI) (5/27/78, #1 US, #3 UK, #13 AC, #40 RB, sales: 1.0 m)
  2. Summer Nights (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN / JOHN TRAVOLTA / CAST) (8/5/78, #5 US, #1 UK, #21 AC, sales: 0.5 m)
  3. Hopelessly Devoted to You (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (7/8/78, #3 US, #2 UK, #7 AC, #20 CW, sales: 0.5 m)
  4. You’re the One That I Want (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN / JOHN TRAVOLTA) (4/1/78, #1 US, #1 UK, #23 AC, sales: 1.0 m)
  5. Sandy (JOHN TRAVOLTA) (10/7/78, #2 UK)
  6. Beauty School Dropout (FRANKIE AVALON)
  7. Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee (STOCKARD CHANNING)
  8. Greased Lightnin’ (JOHN TRAVOLTA) (9/30/78, #47 US, #11 UK)
  9. It’s Raining on Prom Night (CINDY BULLENS)
  10. Alone at a Drive-in Movie (BILL OAKES)
  11. Blue Moon (SHA NA NA)
  12. Rock & Roll Is Here to Stay (SHA NA NA)
  13. Those Magic Changes (SHA NA NA)
  14. Hound Dog (SHA NA NA)
  15. Born to Hand Jive (SHA NA NA)
  16. Tears on My Pillow (SHA NA NA)
  17. Mooning (LOUIS SAINT LOUIS / CINDY BULLENS)
  18. Freddy, My Love (CINDY BULLENS)
  19. Rock & Roll Party Queen (LOUIS SAINT LOUIS)
  20. Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN)
  21. We Go Together (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN / JOHN TRAVOLTA)
  22. Love Is a Many Splendored Thing (BILL OAKES)
  23. Grease (FRANKIE VALLI)

Click here for the chart codes for singles/hit songs.

Review:

“Grease will always be the word for hopelessly devoted generations of girls who wore out their record players partying with their own Pink Ladies to this soundtrack.” ZS The “high-camp classic” ZS whisked listeners away “to the ‘50s teeny-bopper days” ZS by boasting “summer-loving hits that will be on karaoke playlists until the end of time.” ZS

“The movie is a 1970s take on 1950s musicals, providing all the kitsch anyone could hope for.” AZGrease was a huge success as a Broadway musical prior to hitting the big screen in 1978. That was the version that transformed Grease into a phenomenon – it was a runaway box office success, and then became a TV, cable, and video favorite.” AMG

The soundtrack, the sixth best-selling of all time, WK “rivaled its film counterpart as a pop culture perennial, and it’s not hard to see why – its good-natured pastiche of doo wop and early rock & roll is infectious and charming, due in no small part to John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John’s charismatic, engaging performances.” AMG

They actually only appear on 7 of the 24 tracks on the album, but “they sing the majority of the originals… which were the reason why the film and soundtrack became blockbusters.” AMG The pair duet on You’re the One That I Want and sing with the cast on Summer Nights. Both sangs hit #1 in the UK and rank in the 20 best-selling singles of all-time in the UK. WK

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta took solo turns on Hopelessly Devoted to You and Sandy respectively. They were also hugely successful in the UK, both hitting #2. The former was a #3 hit in the US as well.

Songs by other cast members include Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee, in which “actress Stockard Channing struts her, um, versatility.” AZ The rest of the soundtrack is filled out by “workmanlike performances” AMG of 1950s’ chestnuts from Sha Na Na. While they are “over-represented,” AZ the soundtrack’s original songs, which “hold up better than the ‘50s tunes,” AMG “are so giddily enjoyable…that everything works.” AMG

‘50s heartthrob Frankie Valli sings the title song, written by Bee Gee Barry Gibb, fresh from his success from Saturday Night Fever. In that movie, Travolta became an internationally-known star strutting his disco white-suit-wearing stuff to four chart-topping songs penned by Gibb. In Grease, Travolta strutted his jeans-and-T-shirt-wearing stuff while dancing with Olivia Newton-John – and four more top five US hits.

This soundtrack bears several interesting connections to that one. Only three weeks after Fever ended its six-month residency at the top of the US charts, the Grease soundtrack moved in for a summer-long stay. Fever was the best-selling album of 1977; Grease held the title for 1978. Both rank in the all-time top 100 worldwide best-selling albums with estimates as high as 40 million. Both soundtracks are also in the DMDB’s list of the top 50 soundtracks and rank amongst the biggest #1 albums in U.S. and U.K. chart history. Both albums are also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame/NARM’s Definitive Albums list.

“The sleek pop production the movie’s soundtrack boasts and the cast’s enthusiastic performances go a long way in making this Grease the definitive Grease.” AMG “This has become a touchstone in American culture.” AZ


Review Sources/Related DMDB Links:

Awards:


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Monday, July 3, 1978

George M. Cohan: Top 30 Songs

First posted 12/8/2019.

Songwriter born George Michael Cohan was born 100 years ago today on 7/3/1878 in Providence, RI. Died 11/5/1942. One of America’s most successful songwriters. His songs were often recorded by Billy Murray, one of the most successful singers of the first quartet of the 20th century. Cohan was known for introducing a new style to American musical comedy and wrote, produced, directed, and starred in more than 40 musicals on Broadway. “Over There” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag” are featured in the DMDB book The Top 100 Songs of the Pre-Rock Era, 1890-1953. For a complete list of this act’s DMDB honors, check out the DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry.


Top 30 Songs

Dave’s Music Database lists are determined by song’s appearances on best-of lists as well as chart success, sales, radio airplay, streaming, and awards. Many of these songs have been recorded multiple times. Only the highest-ranked version in Dave’s Music Database is included in this list. The recording artist is noted in parentheses. Songs which hit #1 on on the Billboard pop chart are noted.

DMDB Top 1%:

1. Over There (American Quartet, 1917) #1
2. You’re a Grand Old Flag (aka “The Grand Old Rag”) (Billy Murray, 1906) #1
3. Give My Regards to Broadway (Billy Murray, 1905) #1
4. Yankee Doodle Boy (Billy Murray, 1905) #1
5. Harrigan (Billy Murray, 1907) #1

DMDB Top 5%:

6. That Haunting Melody (Al Jolson with Walter B. Rogers’ Orchestra, 1912) #1
7. So Long Mary (Corrinne Morgan, 1906) #1
8. Under Any Old Flag at All (Billy Murray, 1908) #1
9. When We Are M-A-R-R-I-E-D (Ada Jones with Billy Murray, 1908) #1
10. Forty-Five Minutes from Broadway (Billy Murray, 1906)
11. Mary’s a Grand Old Name (1906)

DMDB Top 10%:

12. I Guess I’ll Have to Telegraph My Baby (Arthur Collins, 1899) #1
13. When You Come Back (And You Will Come Back) (John McCormack, 1918)
14. Always Leave Them Laughing (Billy Murray, 1907)
15. San Francisco Sadie (Dan Quinn, 1900)
16. Any Place the Old Flag Flies (Billy Murray, 1912)
17. If I’m Goin’ to Die, I’m Goin’ to Have Some Fun (Arthur Collins, 1907)
18. When a Fellow’s on the Level with a Girl Who’s on the Square (Billy Murray, 1909)
19. I Want You (Henry Burr, 1908)
20. Nellie Kelly, I Love You (American Quartet, 1923)
21. You Remind Me of My Mother (Henry Burr, 1923)

DMDB Top 20%:

22. Popularity (Vess Ossman, 1907)
23. Little Johnny Jones Medley (Vess Ossman, 1905)
24. You Can Have Broadway (Billy Murray, 1907)
25. Sullivan (Billy Murray & Haydn Quartet, 1909)
26. ABC’s of the U.S.A. (Ada Jones & Billy Murray, 1908)
27. American Ragtime (Billy Murray, 1909)

Beyond the DMDB Top 20%:

28. Venus, My Shining Love (1894)
29. The Warmest Baby in the Bunch (1897)
30. If I Were Mister Morgan (1903)


Awards: