About the Song:
As a teenager, my two favorite acts were Styx and Olivia Newton-John – a point reflected when I started doing personal weekly charts in 1982. The next year, Styx’s “Mr. Roboto” became my longest-running #1 (12 weeks) in the roughly ten years I maintained my charts. By year’s end, Olivia came close with “Twist of Fate” logging 10 weeks atop my charts. The only other song to surpass it was 1985’s “Head Over Heels” by Tears for Fears (11 weeks).
Over time, “Twist of Fate” hasn’t maintained the same lofty status as “Mr. Roboto” and “Head Over Heels,” which still rank in my top 100 songs of all time. It still appears in my Grand Library (my top 1000 of all time), but has been surpassed by some half-dozen other Olivia songs, including “Physical,” which topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 10 weeks, “Magic” and “Xanadu” from the Xanadu soundtrack (my first cassette), and “Heart Attack,” a #3 hit on Billboard from Olivia’s 1982 greatest-hits set.
Because of the monstrous success of 1978’s Grease movie and soundtrack, fans were eager to see stars Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta together again. The 1983 Two of a Kind movie paired the two in a romantic fantasy crime comedy film in which they have to show compassion for one another in order to delay God’s judgment upon Earth. If it sounds like the makings of a flop, it was.
The soundtrack, however, was a success, selling a million copies on the strength of the top-5 hit “Twist of Fate” and top-40 hit “Livin’ in Desperate Times." The synthesizer-driven, rock-oriented material was in keeping with the direction Olivia’s music had been going, but it was a long way away from her ‘70s fare which drew much of its appeal from adult-contemporary and country radio listeners.
“Twist of Fate” came about when Peter Beckett, who wrote and sang the #1 hit “Baby Come Back” by Player, was writing with Steve Kipner and got a call from Olivia’s manager needing an uptempo song for Two of a Kind. They wrote lyrics to suit the movie, specifically referencing the twist that brings Olivia and John Travolta’s characters back together after their initial meeting. SF
First posted 8/6/2022.
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