Nearly an unstoppable pop juggernaut as the ’80s dawned, thanks to hits from Xanadu and Physical, Olivia Newton-John stumbled a bit as the decade hit the halfway mark. First, her film reunion with John Travolta, Two Of A Kind suffered a commercial and critical drumming, but the soundtrack did middling business, with the increasingly New Wave-ish tone of the singles “Twist of Fate” and “Livin’ In Desperate Times”. While “Twist” hit the Top 5, “Livin'” reflected ONJ’s diminished hit-making power, struggling to a measly #31.
That was heaven compared to what was next for Olivia fans. 1985’s Soul Kiss was just shy of appalling, all the raunch of the Physical ONJ era with none of the humor or even a knowing wink. Where was the sly sexiness of “A Little More Love” or even the camp of “Make A Move On Me”? When the title track and lead-off single is about blow jobs, you can’t play the classy card anymore, despite wrapping it all in a Helmut Newton-shot cover:
It’s like she took the “Be A Whore!” lessons Sandy learned in Grease and applied them to her career. The rest of the album wasn’t any better – the only saving grace from this period was tossed on the b-side of the “Soul Kiss” single. “Electric” is a campy little funk/dance number, complete with high-voltage sound effects and an early ’80s style ONJ melody.
Olivia never fully recovered from Soul Kiss’s failure in the States. She continues to act, release albums overseas and in Hallmark stores (seriously) and be a gay icon, but she’s more well-known these days for her disappearing boyfriends than her current musical output. Here’s someone due for a comeback – we know she’s got it in her somewhere.
Just no more raunchy stuff, please.
“Electric” was the b-side of the “Soul Kiss” single.
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Thanks to JPB for the file!