Physical (Olivia Newton-John song)
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2011)|
|Single by Olivia Newton-John|
|from the album Physical|
|B-side||"The Promise (The Dolphin Song)"|
|Olivia Newton-John singles chronology|
"Physical" is a song by Australian recording artist Olivia Newton-John for her twelfth studio album Physical. It was released in September 1981, by MCA Records as the lead single from the project. The song was written by Steve Kipner and Terry Shaddick, who originally intended to offer it to British singer-songwriter Rod Stewart, while production was handled by John Farrar.
The song was an immediate success, shipping 2 million copies in the United States, being certified Platinum, and spending 10 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, ultimately becoming Newton-John's biggest American hit. The song reached number 7 on the UK chart in November. The song was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and won the Billboard Award for Top Pop Single. "Physical" went on to become the biggest-selling single of the entire decade in the US.
Recorded in early 1981, it first rose to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in America in November 1981 and stayed there for 10 weeks, until near the end of January 1982. In terms of chart placement, it was the most popular single of her career in the U.S., as well as her final number-one (to date). Billboard ranked it as the number one pop single of 1982 (since the chart year for 1982 actually began in November 1981), and it was also the most successful song on the Hot 100 during the entire decade of the 1980s. The famous guitar solo is performed by Toto's guitarist Steve Lukather.
"Physical" was both preceded and followed in the #1 chart position by recordings of the duo Hall & Oates. "Private Eyes" yielded its top spot to "Physical" in November 1981, and "Physical" yielded to "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" the following January. "Physical" held "Waiting for a Girl Like You" by Foreigner at #2, off the top of the Hot 100 for nine weeks, and "I Can't Go For That" held Foreigner's hit at #2 for the tenth and final week.
The single, slightly edgier than she had been known for in the past (such as her songs from Grease and her country-pop ballad "I Honestly Love You"), proved to be immensely popular both in America and in the United Kingdom, despite the fact that the song was censored and even banned by some radio stations; due to its sexual content, for example the line: "There's nothing left to talk about unless it's horizontally", in spite of Newton-John's status as the reigning queen of soft-rock music at the time, "Physical" peaked at only number twenty-nine on the AC chart (its follow-up, the slightly softer-edged "Make a Move on Me," found more acceptance at AC radio and went to number six AC as well as number five pop). The song was a big dance hit, crossed over to the Billboard R&B chart peaking at #28 there, and spawned a music video.
In the United Kingdom the single was not nearly as massive a success as in America, but still became a big hit, reaching #7. It also certified Silver.
The video featured a lusty Olivia, dressed in a tight leotard, as a gym teacher trying to make several overweight men healthy. She repeatedly tries to make the men lose weight, but her plans fail and she leaves the room to take a shower. Suddenly, the men work out on their own, and they transform into muscular attractive men. In one part, one muscular man glances at his overweight self. Olivia is shocked when she sees this, and starts to flirt with them. At the end, two of the men secretly go out, holding hands, implying they are gay. Olivia is surprised to see this and as two more of the men leave with their arms around each other, she discovers the last of the overweight men is straight and they go off to play tennis together. The gym setting may have been partly an attempt to divert attention from the overt sexual connotations of the term "physical". This was further emphasized by the twist comedy ending of the video, when the transformed men who are now oblivious to Newton-John's advances are ultimately revealed to be gay (this was also a source of controversy; MTV frequently cut the ending when it aired the video, and the sometimes sensuous nature of the video also led to it being banned outright by some broadcasters in Canada and the United Kingdom).
The Olivia Physical video (where "Physical" music video was included) won a Grammy Award for Video of the Year in 1983. The video was featured on Pop-Up Video on VH1 and was the first video to air on Beavis and Butt-Head, on which they changed the channel to "I Wanna Be Sedated" by The Ramones.
The revamped bossa nova version of the song was released on the 2002 Olivia duet album (2) as a bonus track; this version replaces the original in latest tours of Newton-John. A Newton-John duet with Jane Lynch was displayed in the episode "Bad Reputation" of the television series Glee.
Most recently, in 2010, Matthew Wilkening of AOL Radio ranked the song at #39 on the list of the 100 Worst Songs Ever, stating that "An entire generation's leg-warmered, pastel spandex shame is laid bare in just under four minutes."
When Olivia appeared as herself in an episode of Ned & Stacey Stacey offered her a drink of "Fizzy Cola" in a play on the term 'physical'.
- Elephant Man (musician) featuring Kat DeLuna sampled the song in "Body Talk" which appears on the album "Let's Get Physical" in 2008.
- Victor Willis of the Village People covered this in 1982 as a 12-inch single on Sutra Records.
- Ramsey Lewis covered this in 1983 on his album Les Fleurs.
- Industrial metal band Revolting Cocks covered this song for their 1990 album Beers, Steers, and Queers.
- "Physical" was 're-worked' by the British electronic music duo Goldfrapp on the re-release of the single Utopia from their debut album Felt Mountain as U.K. Girls (Physical).
- Sophie Ellis-Bextor covered the song as a hidden track for her album Shoot from the Hip.
- Kylie Minogue recorded a cover of the song for the soundtrack to the 2001 film Moulin Rouge! but it was ultimately not used. It is however, available on the Australian Tour Edition of Light Years.
- Synthpop group Queen of Japan recorded a cover of the song, which was available as a single in 2001.
- The song was performed by Marc Kudisch and Lisa Capps in the 2002 stage version of Earth Girls Are Easy.
- Kent James (aka Nick Name) released a cover in 2003.
- An electronic dance cover of the song was recorded by Cat5.
- Electropop band The Black Ghosts recorded a cover of the song.
- In 2007, Swedish clothing company WeSC released an album of new covers of "Physical" by 12 different artists, including Cat5, Doomington, Booty Cologne featuring ADL, The Black Ghosts, Lisa Loud & Kriss Darang featuring Hollie Cook, Timbuktu & Chords, Caged Baby, Pink Pioneers, The Glimmers, Blonde from Fargo, and Sara Lumholdt (a former member of Swedish pop group A*Teens now going under the stage name "Sara Love"). The album was titled Let's Get Physical with WeSC.
- Dr. Demento assistant SuLu recorded "(I Gotta Get A) Physical" as a commentary about a typical doctor's office.
- Actor Bill Murray gave an impromptu performance of the song during his guest appearance on the pilot episode of Late Night with David Letterman.
- The workout theme of Newton-John's "Physical" video clip was appropriated by Sesame Street in a segment called "Let's All Exercise" (featuring Grover and Prairie Dawn among other Muppets). "Let's All Exercise" is not an actual "cover" of "Physical" as such but could more accurately be called an interpolation.[clarification needed]
- The Glimmers cover the song for the 2008 dance compilation album Poplife Presents: Poplife Sucks.
- Steve Carell and Amy Ryan sing a parody of the song on the 9 October 2008 episode of The Office, "Business Ethics (The Office)".
- Taiwanese Mandopop artist Jolin Tsai cover the song for her first English cover album Love Exercise in 2008.
- Not the Nine O'Clock News parodied the song as "Typical, Bloody Typical" 
- Jane Lynch of Glee performed a cover of the song with Olivia Newton-John, who guest starred as herself in the 4 May 2010 episode, titled "Bad Reputation". The episode aired in Australia on 20 May 2010.
- Two Lives Jews recorded humorous lyrics to "Physical" dealing with safe sex. (Source: "I'm going to get some Latex/for Safe Sex")
- Drag Icon RuPaul covered "Physical" on "The Rupaul" Show When Olivia Newton-John was a guest.
- A dance song, Bodytalk, by Bodybangers featuring Joyce borrows heavily from the lyrics of the original song.
Charts and certifications
Sales and certifications
- Juke Magazine 13 March 1982.
- "American single certifications – Olivia Newton-John – Physical". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
- "British single certifications – Olivia Newton-John – Physical". British Phonographic Industry. Enter Physical in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Click Go
- Video on YouTube
- Wilkening, Matthew (11 September 2010). "100 Worst Songs Ever -- Part Four of Five". AOL Radio. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
- Video on YouTube
- Anderson, Rick. "Review Poplife Presents: Poplife Sucks". Allmusic. Retrieved 8 January 2010.
- Typical Bloody Typical (YouTube) on YouTube
- "Canadian single certifications – Olivia Newton-John – Physical". Music Canada. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
- "British single certifications – Olivia Newton-John – Physical". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 1 April 2012. Enter Physical in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Click Go
- "American single certifications – Newton-John, Olivia – Physical". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 1 April 2012. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH