Getty Images/Amazon Chestnuts roasting, Blake Shelton toasting! There are…
- Posted on Aug 26th 2011 4:00PM by David Chiu
Quinn Rooney, Getty Images
"I had a bit of a panic session," she tells Spinner. "I went, 'Oh my God! I can't put this out. It's way too radical! What are people going to think of me?' I said to my manager, 'You've got to pull it. It's too cheeky.' And he said, 'It's too late, it's gone to radio.' Of course, it went to No. 1 in like four weeks. I've learned to live with it."
'Physical' became Newton-John's biggest hit single in the U.S., where it topped the Billboard charts on Nov. 21, 1981, and stayed there for a total of 10 weeks. The song was accompanied by a music video featuring a headband-wearing Newton-John and a group of muscular and overweight men exercising in a gym.
"It seems like a long time ago," Newton-John says now about recording the song, "but it also seems like no time ago. It's really interesting -- just recently, I got a call from Brian Grant, who was the director of the [video]. They're doing a life story on him and I haven't seen him since we did the video. And then I did it again on 'Glee.' They recreated the whole set. It's sort of following me around again."
Prior to 'Physical,' Newton-John had been known for her mid-'70s pop and country hits such as 'Let Me Be There,' 'Have You Ever Been Mellow' and 'I Honestly Love You.' But her clean-cut, good-girl image changed beginning with her starring role as Sandy in the 1978 smash hit movie 'Grease' and then later with 'Physical.'
"Being Sandy gave me the ability to move forward with my so-called 'image,'" she says. "It allowed me to do that. I really didn't think about it until afterward. After I recorded ['Physical'], I went, 'My goodness!' But it's such a great song and it's so catchy. By putting on the headband and making it about exercise, it kind of started a whole trend."
'Physical' has since become part of pop culture: Bill Murray sang his version of the song on the debut episode of 'Late Night With David Letterman'; Kylie Minogue has performed 'Physical' in concert; and it was featured in an episode of 'The Office.' In 2010, Billboard voted it Number One in its list of 'The Top 50 Sexiest Songs of All Time.'
Most recently, Newton-John appeared on the TV show 'Glee' and sang the song with Sue Sylvester (played by Jane Lynch). "That was really good fun," Newton-John says. "We had such a good time and Jane Lynch is hysterical. Just being on that set again and seeing it totally redone like that was just wild."
These days Newton-John is still recording music as well as raising cancer awareness. A breast cancer survivor, she recently recorded a new version of her 1980 hit 'Magic' as a dance track. Proceeds from the sales of the single will fund the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre, based in Melbourne, Australia and scheduled to open in either late 2012 or early 2013.
"It's a positive message," Newton-John says about the choice of 'Magic' as a charity single, "and you have to believe in things to make them happen. We've been working on the hospital eight years."
In addition to her cancer cause, the singer is also busy with a new movie comedy coming out in Australia called 'A Few Best Men.' "I'm also working on some other dance tracks with my nephew Brett Goldsmith. That's plenty right now," she says.