Most musical movies don’t produce one No. 1 hit, however, Grease gave the world two No. 1 hits. One of these songs was written by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees. The other communicates a key plot point from the movie.
How one of the Bee Gees wrote a No. 1 hit from ‘Grease’
Firstly, a little background. Grease began its life as a stage musical. Most of the songs from the film were from the stage musical. However, one of the No. 1 hits was written by Gibb for the film.
The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits reports the title song from Grease hit No. 1. The song’s success was interesting given Frankie Valli performed it — and Valli’s career began decades before Grease’s release. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gibb revealed he wrote the track in two hours or so. “Because if I get an idea and my head says to me, ‘This is good, do it!’ then I’ll just go with it,” Gibb said. “It began to make sense and it just fell into place. I can’t really explain it.”
Gibb didn’t just write the song — he performed backing vocals on it. Gibb enjoyed the experience of working with Valli. “What we did was, the bridge: ‘What are we doin’ here?’” he revealed. “We did that section together in falsetto. A little bit of me and a little bit of him…That’s a great pop singer.”
Why the other No. 1 hit from the film is integral to its plot and appeal
The song “Grease” plays over the opening credits of the film. While it’s certainly catchy, the track doesn’t communicate anything about the film’s plot or move the story forward. The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits reports the other No. 1 hit from Grease was “You’re the One That I Want,” written by John Farrar. While “Grease” was a 1970s disco song, “You’re the One That I Want” sounds more like the music of the film’s 1950s setting. In addition, “You’re the One That I Want” is integral to the plot of Grease, as it shows Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson reuniting as a couple. Olivia Newton-John felt their reunion is integral to the film’s appeal.
In an interview with The Morning Call, Newton-John said “People still love [Grease],” Newton-John said. “It’s still the same movie it always was. People’s interpretations will change, but the movie is pretty simple: Boy meets girl, loses girl, gets her back. People love that. And I think they identify with the different characters in it. It’s fun, and the music’s great. Compared to movies that are out now, it’s very tame. At the time, it was probably a little naughty. But now, it’s like a cartoon.”
Grease may have been a little naughty at the time, not one but two of its singles became No. 1 hits. It apparently wasn’t too naughty for the masses in the 1970s — and it’s still famous today.