Summer Nights (Grease song)

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"Summer Nights"
Olivia-Newton-John-Summer Nights 5 (2).jpg
Single by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John
from the album Grease OST
B-side "Rock and Roll Party Queen" (performed by Louis St. Louis)
Released August 25, 1978
Genre Pop, musical theatre
Length 3:35
Label RSO
Writer(s) Jim Jacobs, Warren Casey
Olivia Newton-John single chronology
"You're the One That I Want"
"Summer Nights"
"Hopelessly Devoted to You"
John Travolta chronology
"You're the One That I Want"
"Summer Nights"

"Summer Nights" is a popular song from the musical Grease. Written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey,[1] 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.[2]

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. However, it quickly becomes clear that there are unresolved feelings of love between Danny and Sandy.[3]

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". Stockard Channing's solo line "'Cause he sounds like a drag" was spoken rather than sung.

Chart success[edit]

"Summer Nights" reached No. 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100,[4] and spent two weeks at No. 3 on Cash Box Top 100.[5] The song was an even bigger hit in the UK, spending seven weeks at No. 1.[6] 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.[7]

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[17] Gold 75,000^
France (SNEP)[18] Gold 539,000[19]
United Kingdom (BPI)[20] Platinum 1,600,000[21]
United States (RIAA)[22] Gold 1,000,000
Total sales: 3,214,000

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

"The Grease Megamix"[edit]

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.

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ "Grease (1978) - Soundtracks". Retrieved 2014-03-28. 
  2. ^ "Grease (1978)". Retrieved 2014-03-28. 
  3. ^ "Grease (1978) - Plot Summary". Retrieved 2014-03-28. 
  4. ^ "Billboard Top 40 Hits (1978) at cyList". Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  5. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 10/07/78". 1978-10-07. Retrieved 2014-05-01. ][dead link]
  6. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 357–9. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  7. ^ "Top 30 Summer Songs". Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  8. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2015-06-25. 
  10. ^ "Australian Chart Book". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  11. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  12. ^ "Top Selling Singles of 1978 | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". 1978-12-31. Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  13. ^ "1970s Singles Chart Archive". Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  14. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1978/Top 100 Songs of 1978". Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  16. ^ "Top 100 Singles of the Decade" (PDF). Record Mirror. London: Spotlight Publications. January 5, 1980. p. 2. Retrieved June 19, 2016. 
  17. ^ "Canadian certifications – Olivia Newton-John – Summer Nights". Music Canada. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  18. ^ "Les Singles en Or :" (in French). Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  19. ^ "InfoDisc : Les 45 T. / Singles les plus vendus en France" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Archived from the original on 2012-03-26. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  20. ^ "British certifications – Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta – Summer Nights". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Summer Nights in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  21. ^ Lane, Daniel (27 June 2013). "Daft Punk's Get Lucky becomes one of the UK's biggest selling singles of all-time!". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  22. ^ "American certifications – Newton-John, Olivia and John Travolta – Summer Nights". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  23. ^ "Glee: 'Summer Nights'". Retrieved 2014-03-28. 
  24. ^ "Saturday Night Live (1975– ) : Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen/J-Kwon". Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  25. ^ "Leisure Suit Larry Gay Song". YouTube. 2006-09-27. Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  26. ^ "One Direction: 'What Makes You Beautiful' - Single review". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2014-03-28. 
Preceded by
"Dreadlock Holiday" by 10cc
UK number-one single
30 September 1978 - 11 November 1978
Succeeded by
"Rat Trap" by The Boomtown Rats
Preceded by
"One Day at a Time" by Gloria
Irish Singles Chart number-one single
7 October 1978 - 28 October 1978
Succeeded by
"Sandy" by John Travolta