Saturday, June 10, 1978

“You’re the One That I Want” hit #1

Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta

Writer(s): John Farrar (see lyrics here)

First Charted: April 1, 1978

Peak: 11 US, 3 CB, 2 GR, 11 HR, 3, 23 AC, 19 UK, 2 CN, 19 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, 2.49 UK, 15.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 653.43 video, 601.48 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The 1972 Broadway show Grease about American high schoolers in the ‘50s was such a success that it was brought to the big screen in 1978. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John were cast as the stars. He “was the hottest thing going” RC since his Best Actor Oscar nomination and she was a successful crossover singer in country, pop, and adult contemporary. Despite being years removed from high school, they brought charisma and chemistry to their roles and turned the movie and its soundtrack into blockbusters.

John Farrar, who’d worked with Olivia since 1971, wrote some new songs exclusively for the movie, including Olivia’s ballad “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “You’re the One That I Want,” a raucous duet between the leads. The movie’s director, Randal Kleiser, was not a fan because he felt it didn’t fit with the songs written by Warren Casey and Jim Jacobs for the original show. WK

However, “You’re the One That I Want” was a huge hit with fans across the world, reaching #1 in the U.S., UK, Australia, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland, and Sweden. Within two weeks of charting, it was certified gold for selling a million copies. WK It reached #1 in the U.S. before the movie was even released. SF In the UK, it became the fifth biggest-selling single of all time. SF In Olivia’s native Australia, the song spent nine non-consecutive weeks on top, interrupted by a six-week run at #1 by Boney M’s “Rivers of Babylon.” “You’re the One That I Want” spent those six weeks hovering right behind “Babylon” at #2. WK

As the movie’s closer, it showcased the transformation of Olivia’s character Sandy from good girl to greaser queen to win back Danny, played by Travolta. Meanwhile, Danny has made his own change to win Sandy back. To the surprise of his greaser friends, he now sports a sweater with a letter he received in cross country. Originally the movie closed with “All Choked Up,” which was sort of a send up of Elvis Presley’s “All Shook Up.” However, it was one of two songs from the original score which was removed completely from the movie and soundtrack. WK


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First posted 10/23/2020; last updated 4/30/2024.

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