Physical (Olivia Newton-John song)
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|Single by Olivia Newton-John|
|from the album Physical|
|B-side||"The Promise (The Dolphin Song)"|
|Released||28 September 1981|
|Olivia Newton-John singles chronology|
"Physical" is a song by British-born Australian musician 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.
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. It reached #2 on the Radio & Records CHR/Pop Airplay chart on November 27, 1981, staying there for two weeks and reamining on the chart for fourteen weeks. 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 1980s in terms of the number of weeks spent at number one. The guitar solo was performed by 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 was also certified Silver.
The video features Newton-John, dressed in a tight leotard, as trying to make several overweight men healthy. She repeatedly tries to make the men lose weight, but they fail comically and she leaves the room to take a shower. When the men work out on their own, they suddenly transform into muscular, attractive men. A stylistic shot shows one muscular man glancing at his overweight self in a mirror. Newton-John is shocked when she returns to this, and starts to flirt with them. Two of the men secretly go out, holding hands, implying they are gay. This surprises Olivia, as does the sight of two more of the men leaving with their arms around each other. Finally, she finds that the last of the overweight men is straight and they go off to play tennis together.
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.
- Elephant Man 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.
- "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).
- Synthpop group Queen of Japan recorded a cover of the song, which was available as a single in 2001.
- 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.
- The Glimmers cover the song for the 2008 dance compilation album Poplife Presents: Poplife Sucks.
- 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.
- Industrial Metal group Revolting Cocks covered the song on their album Beers, Steers, and Queers, however writers Steve Kipner and Terry Shaddick voiced strong disapproval the Cocks' original version; prompting their label at the time, Wax Trax, to subsequently ban the original track, forcing the band to record alternate vocals. The alternate version appears on the album.
Charts and certifications
Weekly singles charts
Sales and certifications
"Private Eyes" by Daryl Hall and John Oates
|US Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
November 28, 1981 - January 23, 1982 (10 weeks)
"I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" by Daryl Hall and John Oates
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Physical - Olivia Newton-John - Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards - AllMusic". AllMusic.
- 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
- Whitburn, Joel (1996). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (6th ed.). Billboard Publications, Inc. p. 810. ISBN 0-8230-7632-6.
- "British single certifications – Olivia Newton-John – Physical". British Phonographic Industry. Enter Physical in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Click Search
-  Archived 1 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
- "The 50 Sexiest Songs Of All Time Page 5". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-05-13.
- "The Top 20 Billboard Hot 100 Hits of the 1980s". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
- Video on YouTube
- Anderson, Rick. "Review Poplife Presents: Poplife Sucks". Allmusic. Retrieved 8 January 2010.
- "Ultratop.be – Olivia Newton-John – Physical" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
- Bronson, Fred (2 August 2013). "Hot 100 55th Anniversary: The All-Time Top 100 Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- "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 Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
- "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