Electric Light Orchestra & Olivia-Newton John – Xanadu: #679 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Various Artists - Xanadu

Why is Electric Light Orchestra & Olivia-Newton John’s Xanadu on my best 1,000 albums ever list?

You have to believe we are magic, nothing can stand in our way.

Some stats & info about Electric Light Orchestra & Olivia-Newton John – Xanadu

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Movie Soundtracks, Album Rock, Soft Rock, Rock Music, Disco
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating3.5 out of 5 stars
  • When was Xanadu released? 1980
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #679 out of 1,000

Electric Light Orchestra & Olivia-Newton John’s Xanadu on Spotify

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.

What does Electric Light Orchestra & Olivia-Newton John’s Xanadu mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?

The movie Xanadu and its associated motion picture soundtrack conjure up a very specific memory from my early childhood. It’s not quite one of my “earliest memories,” but it’s pretty far back there, if you can dig. More on this and the Xanadu the movie below.

Xanadu the soundtrack is rather fascinating because it compiles two megawatt stars of the late 1970s and early 1980s (Olivia-Newton John and Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra) who produce some very 1980 time capsule songs here.

While the ballad “Suddenly” is arguably the best known song from the soundtrack, its Newton-John’s “Magic” that remains my favorite song from Xanadu. Because I was first exposed to this soundtrack as a kid, I’m not capable of defining whether or not its “cheesy,” but I just know that I’m able to unironically enjoy it to this day. Newton-John’s voice is simply gorgeous, and the backing vocals and production are on point.

“I’m Alive” gets my vote as best among the Electric Light Orchestra tracks, a disco-y song with a huge sound, dizzying effects and, in my mind’s eye, must involve one of those keyboard rigs where there are like 14 keyboards surrounding ELO keyboardist Richard Tandy in the studio.

The title track is a great collab between Newton-John and ELO. Viva la 1980.

Personal stuff that has something to do with Electric Light Orchestra & Olivia-Newton John’s Xanadu

The memory is slightly odd in a few respects. The first is that simply that across time as adults, our early childhood memories – at least for me – either become like a photograph or like a very short and partially out of context video clip. And then creating meaning around it requires a combination of hacking together other facts and playing sleuth with the puzzle pieces you’ve assembled.

I was at our neighbor’s house who lived across the street from us on Long Island. Our house was the one that I spent the vast majority of my childhood growing up in, but at the time of this memory my family must have moved into the neighborhood pretty recently.

The odd part about this is that while this same neighbor lived across the street from us at least, if memory serves, through the time I went off to college, I never set foot on their property after, say, the third or fourth grade. I believe my family had a falling out of sorts with their family.  They had a daughter who was my age and was in my class in school that I never really became friendly with post-super early childhood. We just wound up running in different circles, I guess.

Anyway, on the day in question I was at their house to watch Xanadu. And not just that, but we watched it in Betamax! Yes, they were one of the few and proud families with went with the better yet shorter-lived technology for home movie viewing.

After watching the disco sci-fi dancing and roller skating-centric movie, we laced up in roller skates ourselves to get it moving around their (circular!) driveway. I’m supposing they must have let me (try to) borrow their kid-sized roller skates as I definitely didn’t have my own. And while I can’t quite remember this part, I must have stumbled around their driveway in my borrowed skates for a bit, if I managed to get rolling much at all in the first place.

I did not remember a single thing about the movie before watching the trailer and… I gotta say, it sure is something.