Saturday, August 04, 2007

Xanadu (1980) – Electric Light Orchestra featuring Olivia Newton-John

As part of the closing montage for the 1980 box office bomb, it channels the inspiration of a muse, creating a synergy of renewal between dreams gone by and dreams on the wane, fusing to breathe new life into a deserted building. The ultimate ode to a glorified rollerskating rink, “Xanadu” exploits Olivia Newton-John’s gift for altering sensorial perception through melody. From the opening synthesizer glissando, ELO’s conspicuous chord changes lay down the steps upon which Olivia’s voice perambulates, unlocking the realms of fantasy to the groove of the bassline’s gyrations. Electric piano, strings and Jeff Lynne’s trademark multi-part vocals purfle a kaleidoscopic arrangement as luminescent as the neon lights—and as celebratory as the protagonists’ triumphs—of which its lyrics speak.

As payoff for enduring a dog of a movie and a tedious choreographed scene to commemorate the grand opening of Xanadu, Olivia emerges onto the screen to perform the title song in her final bow as a muse, having never looked more radiant in threatening to turn the viewer into a pillar of salt. Unforgivably, there’s a dearth of shots focusing on her, director Robert Greenwald’s shortsighted blunder preserved on film: you just don’t squander the opportunity to showcase such a natural beauty.

  • Listen to "Xanadu" and purchase from iTunes Music Store.
  • See also "Magic" (1980) – Olivia Newton-John
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