51 Weeks: 51 Songs From The Past: Week 17: Olivia Newton-John – Physical

Last week, my featured song took us to the world of cinema. This week, get your leotards and sweatbands ready and come and do some exercise with me down at the gym. Tempted? No? Just wait until you see the video.

51 weeks 51 songs from the past poster

I gave up going to the gym many years ago. I hated going and, one day, asked myself why I was going? A change of portion sizes and doing exercises I enjoyed far more, meant me losing a stone in weight. Goodbye gym, hello the new Hugh. Let’s have a look at this week’s featured song. Oh, just a warning, some of you may like to sit down before watching. (I needed a large sherry).

Released in 1981, and originally written for Rod Stewart (seriously?), Physical was given to Olivia Newton- John to perform. It went on to become her most successful song in the U.S.A, where it enjoyed ten weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Peaking at number one in another five countries, including Austrailia, New Zealand and Canada, us Brits only bought enough copies to propel the song to number seven! I guess we didn’t like going to the gym as much as the rest of the world.

The song was banned by some radio stations because of some of its ‘suggestive’ lyrics! “There’s nothing left to talk about unless it’s horizontally” (See what I mean? *shaking head*). The video was also banned in some countries because of its ‘suggestive’ nature. I guess you can’t always win, but that did not stop Olivia having a lot of fun! Probably, a little ahead of its time, the video was one of the first music videos to feature a great twist!

What shocked me most of all was what Olivia was doing to those guys! I’m not sure she’d get away with it in today’s world, but I bet she can still perform all those stretches and actions.

Thank you to everyone who left a link to a favourite song in the comments section of last week’s post. Some of you are indeed building up an excellent playlist of music which you can play at your New Year’s Eve party. Thank you to Ruth, Marie, and Kat who joined in with publishing a blog post of a favourite song.

Want to join Hugh in building up your 51 favourite songs from the past? Leave a link in the comments section below and showcase your next song.

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81 thoughts

  1. Ha, it is true! I always loved that song but once I checked out the video for posting it I was surprised about the way she behaves in it. I am not surprised it was banned from some countries!!

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  2. Great song Hugh. I thought Olivia was a bit naughty but she gets away with it! What about ‘Valerie’ that gym video is very racy, in faact so muh so I won’t put a link!!
    Ahem, changing direction completely, this week I have chosen a beautiful song by Britney Spears. I beleive she wrote it after her split from Justin Timberlake.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Just goes to show how out of touch I am, Judy. I didn’t even know that Britney and Justin were an item. And, I’m sure I saw Shirley from Eastenders in that video. It’s a very sad song but beautifully sang.

      Now, Valerie – the gym video. I googled it, but couldn’t find anything. Maybe it’s already been removed? 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Groans-okay the bit where I share a bit about my past that does not go down well with me being an uber Goth. lol I used to dance when I was younger. I got medals, they’re all safe in a dark box and one of the tunes I danced to and won a competition to was this one………….

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  4. Thank you for another great song choice, Hugh! After watching both this, and the ‘Call on Me’ video…I definitely need a nap! 😀

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  5. Hi Hugh,
    You got my vote for this week.Olivia Newton- John was another singer we use to dance to at the clubs in the 70’s. I think somewhere in my closet, I have the original with Rod Stewart singing. I know I have Olivia’s version. Thanks for keeping the fun going. Hugs.

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    1. So, Rod Stewart actually released his version of this song as well, Chuck? Wow! I never knew that. I thought he ‘d turned down the song, so it was passed to Olivia. Just goes to show what I don’t know. 😀
      Delighted to bring all these memories back for you. We’re a third of the way through this challenge already. Yikes! I’ve got so much more to cram in.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh watching that video again after all these years, was absolutely brilliant. Sorry to echo what Ritu said, but it really takes me back to growing up, when I genuinely thought it was about how we should all exercise more. Which it definitely is about that, isn’t it? Love the twist at the end too. I also couldn’t imagine Rod Stewart singing that song!

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    1. Now I’m feeling really old, lol 😀 I don’t remember there being gyms in the UK in 1981, but I could be wrong. I’ve never liked them anyway, but you could be right about the song making us all do a lot more exercise. Back in 1981, my waistline was certainly a lot slimmer, so perhaps that’s why the thought of going to the gym never crossed my mind. Of course, those were also the days of no internet, mobile phones, or home computers, so I’m guessing I was outside exercising far more (instead of being stuck in front of a screen).

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I can imagine the days of seeing people in their workout outfits while shopping. I don’t suppose anyone took much notice of them back then. These days, some people seem to shop while still in their nightclothes. Not a pretty sight.
      Thanks, Elizabeth.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You and Judy are cracking me up!! That was great fun with her video! I love how videos told “stories” back then (in the good old days of MTV infancy). Verrrry popular song in the states, for sure in Southern California where I lived then. She and Jane Fonda made fitness fun and don’t forget about Richard Simmons!

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    1. I didn’t know who Richard Simmons was, so I looked him up on Google. He reminds me of a fitness TV instructor we had back in the ’80s. She was Diana Moran, known as the ‘The Green Goddess’

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newsvideo/celebrity-news-video/9806391/Breakfast-TV-at-30-Green-Goddess-Diana-Moran-turns-back-the-clock-with-new-workout.html

      She doesn’t believe in going to the gym but doing all our exercises at home. But, as you say, Terri, it was all about making fitness fun. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Well, particularly after the Call on Me video, I think we can safely say we’ve moved on from Lieutenant Pigeon the other week. My memory may be playing tricks, but I think Physical was probably around the time of Jane Fonda going for the burn, so workouts were all the rage. I have to say, like you, I’ve preferred to do things I enjoy to help burn off calories and keep fit (maybe it’s better not to dwell too much on that).
    I suppose this could be classed as physical….

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    1. I don’t know where Judy found that video. Certainly made me smile, though, and I did encourage her to give me the link. 😁

      Yes, Terri mentioned in an earlier comment about Jane Fonda and on how Jane made exercise all about having fun. I don’t think it’s anywhere near fun these days, but I know many will disagree with me.

      I do like that version of Jump, but (dare I say) also like the ‘Girls Aloud’ version 😮

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have now, and it’s a different Jump, which makes more sense. They covered The Pointer Sisters’ song. Van Halen’s was released around the same time (1984), but is quite different.

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  9. I remember when this song came out but can’t believe it was 1981??? Anyway it was a beauty of a video and it is amazing she got away with it! Thanks for the reminder of how old I really am Hugh 🙂

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  10. Oh, I remember this! My parents bought me the album (double, gatefold) and I just thought I was it and a bit! 😀 And the video – I was too young to get much of it at the time, but it does make me laugh now. Finally, I’m with you – not a gym fan at all, much prefer other types of exercise (and they work better for me too). Great post, Hugh!

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    1. Do you still have the album, Helen? It’s strange because, although I remember the song, I’d forgotten all about the video until I was looking for it. Such a fabulous ending. One I know that many in the LGBTQ community would be very thankful for, especially back in 1981.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it’s a great ending, isn’t it? And pushing tv boundaries back in the early eighties, which I didn’t realise at the time. I don’t still have my vinyl, I got rid of it all a few years ago when we moved back to the UK, after lugging it around the world. It was a relief, mostly, to let it go, but I still wish I had some of it. 🙂

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