Summer Nights (Grease song)
Side-A label of 1978 Australian vinyl single
|Single by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John|
|from the album Grease: The Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture|
|B-side||"Rock and Roll Party Queen" (performed by Louis St. Louis)|
|Released||August 25, 1978|
|Genre||Pop, musical theatre|
|Songwriter(s)||Jim Jacobs, Warren Casey|
|Olivia Newton-John single singles chronology|
|John Travolta singles chronology|
"Summer Nights" is a popular song from the musical Grease. Written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, its best-known version was recorded by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John for the big-screen adaptation of the musical, and released as a single that same year.
"Summer Nights" became a massive hit in both the United States and United Kingdom during the summer of 1978. Included on the movie's soundtrack album, the song was one of several hit singles from the movie. Parts of the song were introduced to a new audience when it was re-released in the 1990s as part of a megamix of several songs from the movie version.
In the movie version of Grease, Travolta and Newton-John played the lead roles of Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson.
The song's genesis stems from a summertime love affair between Danny and Sandy, which had ended upon Sandy's revelation that she was moving back to Australia with her family. However, Sandy soon learns that her family is staying in the United States and subsequently enrolls at Rydell High School, where Danny is also a student. (In the original stage version, Sandy Dumbrowski, who like many other characters in the play is a Catholic of Polish descent, originally attends parochial school. Danny, on the other hand, lied to her and claimed to attend Lake Forest Academy, a prestigious real-life private school in Chicago. Sandy's parents' decision to pull her out of Catholic school and put her in public Rydell High exposes Danny's ruse.) However, it quickly becomes clear that there are unresolved feelings of love between Danny and Sandy.
Separately and unknown to each other, both Danny and Sandy meet with their respective group of friends and share their perspectives of their summertime fling. Danny, the leader of a greaser gang known as "The T-Birds" (the "Burger Palace Boys" in the stage show), brags about the physical aspects of the relationship; Sandy remarks to the schoolgirl clique "The Pink Ladies" about her emotional attachment to Danny. The resulting conversations are played out through the song.
Of the cast members, only Travolta and Newton-John provided vocals for the previous single from the soundtrack, "You're The One That I Want", but other members of the cast contributed backing and cameo lead vocals to "Summer Nights". The only vocal contributions on the soundtrack from Kelly Ward (Putzie) and Michael Tucci (Sonny) are their single questions in this song (Sonny also had no solo lines in the musical; the two songs from the musical by Putzie's stage counterpart were cut from the film). Stockard Channing (Rizzo)'s solo line "'Cause he sounds like a drag" was spoken rather than sung. The background lyrics quote two songs, "Da Doo Ron Ron" by The Crystals and "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" by The Rivingtons (later made famous as Part 2 of "Surfin' Bird" by The Trashmen), that were released in 1963; this is an anachronism, as the song is set in fall 1958.
"Summer Nights" was originally written for the stage show's transition to Broadway. The original Chicago version of the musical (staged only once since the 1970s) had a different song, "Foster Beach," at that point.
"Summer Nights" reached No. 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and spent two weeks at No. 3 on Cash Box Top 100. The song was an even bigger hit in the UK, spending seven weeks at No. 1. Combined with an earlier nine-week run with "You're the One That I Want," the Travolta-Newton-John duet team spent 16 weeks at No. 1 during 1978 in the UK.
In 2004 it finished at #70 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.
In 2010, Billboard ranked it No. 9 on their "Best Summer Songs of All Time" list.
Weekly singles charts
Sales and certifications
|Canada (Music Canada)||Gold||75,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||1,640,000|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||1,000,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
"The Grease Megamix"
In 1991, "Summer Nights" and two other songs from the Grease soundtrack — "You're The One That I Want" and "Greased Lightnin'" — were remixed into a new song called "The Grease Megamix." This song was created to observe the movie's release on home video.
Joe Masciantonio, from Outstanding Bass Productions, created the song for Philadelphia radio station WIOQ-FM. The song subsequently became a big hit worldwide.
- Angélica María and Raúl Vale recorded a Spanish-language cover titled "Noches de verano", which reached #1 in Mexico in 1979.
- Brighton indie band 14 Iced Bears covered the song in 1990, for "Alvin Lives (In Leeds)", a compilation of covers of '70s hits released to raise funds for the Anti Poll Tax Campaign.
- Ska-punk band Less Than Jake covered the song on their 1996 EP "Greased".
- In 2012, the cast of the musical TV series Glee, with Chord Overstreet and Amber Riley (portraying Sam Evans and Mercedes Jones respectively) on lead, performed the song in the tenth episode of season three, "Yes/No".
- TV Series Korea Dream High 2 "Jr & Ailee – Summer Nights"
- In May, 2004, on Jimmy Fallon's last regular cast appearance on Saturday Night Live, Jimmy and Tina Fey covered "Summer Nights" with the rest of the SNL cast.
- The 2004 video game Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude includes a minigame set in a gay bar that parodies the song called "Lesbian Nights"
- The song was rewritten for a 2012 Nissan television commercial campaign for the "Summer 'Savin Days" sales event. The ads feature the Nissan Altima, Nissan Frontier and Nissan Rogue among other Nissan models.
- In 2011, the guitar riff in the song "What Makes You Beautiful" by boy band One Direction has been criticized being similar to the original classic song.
- Eden Sher sang the song as her character, Sue Heck, on the 100th episode of the ABC comedy series, The Middle. The episode premiered on October 23, 2013.
- In 2013, a cover version by Karmin was featured in a Twizzlers commercial.
- In the episode "Crazy for You" of The CW series "The Flash", a karaoke version was performed by Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and Barry Allen (Grant Gustin).
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