August 1980: Olivia Newton-John Casts a Spell on #1 with "Magic"

Singer Olivia Newton-John attends the "Xanadu" Wrap-Up Party on February 9, 1980 at Hollywood General Studios in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Photo Credit
(Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

It was the summer of 1980, and Xanadu was coming. An ambitious fantasy musical starring Olivia Newton-John, the movie's promotion got off to a great start in May 1980 with the release of the lead single from the soundtrack, Olivia Newton-John's "Magic."

RELATED: Olivia Newton-John Gets "Physical" with American TV

Written by her longtime producer, John Farrar, the song started a steady ascension up the Billboard charts, climbing higher as the Xanadu movie's August release date approached.

It was on August 1, 1980, when "Magic" topped the Hot 100 at #1--just days before Xanadu debuted across America. While the dreamy tune held onto the #1 spot for four straight weeks, the movie was a critical and commercial flop. Savaged by the critics, Xanadu debuted at #3 over opening weekend, only to drop out of the top 5 by its second week of release.

The movie's bright point was the music, which even the harshest critics admitted. Boasting a soundtrack album featuring Olivia Newton-John on one side and Electric Light Orchestra on the other, the record peaked at #4 on the album charts. It also came with five top 10 singles.

FUN FACT: In an interview shortly before his death, John Lennon confessed to being a big fan of the song. "I love commercial music! I like pop records," Lennon raved in the September 17, 1980 issue of Newsweek. "I like Olivia Newton-John singing 'Magic,' and Donna Summer singing whatever the hell it is she'll be singing. I like the ELO singing 'All Over the World.' I just enjoy it! That's the kind of music I like to hear."

Artist Name

Read More

(Fryderyk Gabowicz/picture alliance via Getty Images)
The "Nena:" album was released on January 14, 1983, and "99 Luftballons" rocked the American charts in March 1984. Who doesn't remember this song?!
(Backstreet)
The third single from "Damn the Torpedoes" would be another FM radio hit for Petty and company.
Brian Rasic/Getty Images
A film directed by the late Michael Apted.

Facebook Comments