First Hit #1: June 10, 1978
It’s surprisingly easy to forget that John Travolta is actually quite talented. The man’s career is like a roller coaster, and he has an alarming fondness for wasting all his good will on really badly chosen projects, so he seems to invite career lulls at an alarming rate. But then you see him in one of his career highlights and you remember why you liked him in the first place. He’s a pretty good actor, and as it turns out a solid singer as well, getting the right mix of horny teenage desperation and goofy charm that someone in Grease needs to have. I don’t know how he does on other pop songs, I’ve never followed his musical career, but with this fun musical number him and Olivia Newton-John have a complimentary musical chemistry and just bring a lot of joy to the proceedings. It’s a fun song, a bit silly but fun to dance around to and sing along with. Travolta and Newton-John are there to create a good time. The song itself is neat because it’s not really beholden to the trends of the era, it’s not disco, there are no synths, but it’s still a dance song, and designed to bring people to the floor. It’s not retro, Grease might be a bit of a period piece but this song doesn’t sound like it would come out in 1959. It’s just a different idea for dance music that was a bit of an anomaly in the era but welcome all the same. It has that same spirit, three minutes of fun and not much else to worry about.
As a side note, a Grease medley got incredibly popular when I was a boy, and as a result I always find it strange that You’re the One that I Want doesn’t transition into Greased Lightnin’ whenever I hear it on its own.