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Grease by Frankie Valli

Album: Grease SoundtrackReleased: 1978Charted:
1
3
  • This was featured in the movie of the same name starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Valli was not in the movie, but another Frankie was: Frankie Avalon played the Teen Angel and sang "Beauty School Dropout." Valli would get a turn in acting: he appeared in seven episodes of the HBO series The Sopranos, which was about a quirky mafia family.
  • This song was written and produced by Barry Gibb of The Bee Gees specifically for the movie. His music helped make Saturday Night Fever a huge hit two years earlier. That film was produced by Robert Stigwood, who was a partner in the Grease movie and got Gibb on board for the title song.

    For this project, Stigwood was interested in Gibb's pen, but not his voice, since The Bee Gees sound ingrained with Saturday Night Fever and he wanted Grease to have its own identity. Frankie Valli, who could sing in a similar high vocal range to Gibb, was asked to record it. Thanks to his many previous hits, Valli provided a familiar sound, but one that was not saturated on Pop radio, as he hadn't had a hit for a while. Gibb did sing backup on the track.
  • Speaking with Billboard magazine in a 2013 interview, Valli explained how he came to record this song. "Barry Gibb called and said, 'I wrote a song. I think it's for you. It's going to be the title song for this motion picture," Valli recalled. "My manager at the time was Allan Carr, who was partners in Grease with Robert Stigwood. He called and said, 'What do you want to do? Do you want to be in the movie? Or sing the title song?' Well, I had already heard the title song, and I loved it. I called [famed arranger] Don Costa up and told him to come over right away and hear this song. He said, 'If you don't record this song, you're crazy.' So I said, 'What's the song if I want to be in the movie?' And they said 'Beauty School Dropout.' It was done by Frankie Avalon. It never became a hit, but he made a lot of money from it being on the soundtrack. But 'Grease' was one of the biggest records I ever had in my career."
  • This was not used in the stage production of Grease - it was written specifically for the movie.
  • The song doesn't make any specific references to the movie, but elegantly expresses it's theme: individuality. It explicitly empowers the title:

    It's got a groove, it's got a meaning
    Grease is the time, is the place, is the motion
    Grease is the way we are feeling


    In the bridge, the song gets transcendental:

    This is a life of illusion
    A life of control
    Mixed with confusion


    This was quite a departure for Valli: the Jersey Boy typically sang about girls and romance, not spiritual discovery.
  • This was Valli's second US #1 hit as a solo artist. Three years earlier, he hit the top spot with "My Eyes Adored You," and before that he had an astonishing five #1 hits with The Four Seasons.

    When he was approached about "Grease," Valli didn't have a record deal - the single was released on Robert Stigwood's RSO label, which issued the soundtrack. Valli quickly landed a deal with Warner Brothers, but never scored another hit on the Hot 100.

    "Grease" was Valli's only #1 not co-written by Bob Crewe or Bob Gaudio.
  • Peter Frampton played lead guitar on this track.
  • With its Disco beat, this song is way out place for the '50s, which is when Grease takes place. Audiences didn't seem to mind this anachronism: the single went platinum, and the soundtrack sold over 8 million copies in America. (thanks, James - Beverly Hills, CA)
  • Barry Gibb produced this song with Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson, who worked on the music to the movie Saturday Night Fever.
  • This was the second US #1 hit from the Grease soundtrack, following "You're The One That I Want," which was released ahead of the movie and hit the top spot on June 10, 1978, six days before the film hit theaters. The title track benefited from the success of the movie, which was a summer blockbuster. "Grease" rose up the Hot 100 in July and reached #1 on August 26.
  • The Bee Gees never recorded a studio version of this song, but included it on their 1997 live set One Night Only, which was recorded at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Their performance was augmented by Frankie Valli's recorded vocals, which come in for the second verse.

    The performance was also released on DVD; during this song there are lots of shots of Olivia Newton-John, who earned a seat in the front row.
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Comments: 25

The reason the movie Grease was so over-the-top successful is described in the words of this song: "Grease is the time, is the place, is the motion, Grease is the way we are feeling". By the 70's, the 50's were starting to be seen and felt as nostalgic. The 50s could be romanticized and looked at with good-natured humor. The stars aligned for Grease to hit the groove at the exact right time to capture the hearts and emotions of movie-goers and music lovers everywhere. As for this song, it really wasn't a favorite of mine, but I feel it was perfect for the movie.Camille - Toronto, Oh
On June 13th 1978, the movie version of "Grease" had its world premier in New York City; and three days later on June 16th it opened in theaters across the U.S.A. and Canada...
Five songs featured in the movie made Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; "Grease" by Frankie Valli (#1 for 3 weeks), "You're the One That I Want" by John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John (#1 for 1 week), "Hopelessly Devoted to You" by Newton-John (#3), "Summer Nights" by Travolta & Newton-John (#5), and "Greased Lightin'" by Travolta (#47)...
And on July 23rd, 1978 the movie's soundtrack album reached #1 (for 12 non-consecutive weeks) on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart (the album also peaked at #1 in the United Kingdom and Australia).
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
This is one of my favorite songs from the grease soundtrack.Jinny - Brighton , United Kingdom
Dooms UK did an alternative rock cover of this song. It can be heard on the 1996 CD album 'Sandy Does Dallas'.Melissa - London, United Kingdom
This song almost didn't make it into the movie because it sounded too "contemporary",given the film's 1950s settingRichard - Calimesa, Ca
My hat is off to Barry Gibb who had 11 songs written by him crack the top 10 in 1978 with 8 of them reaching #1!!!!Paul - Oceanside, Ny
I love the song,along with the movie Grease! I love the opening sequense,Don't be a slob,get a job,go to class,you can pass,now here's an old favorite of mine,then Grease by Frankie valli plays.Jennifer Harris - Grand Blanc, Mi
I prefer the songs in Grease to any other film!Mallory - Upper Marlboro, Md
Also little known fact - Jeff Conaway who plays Kenickie in the movie - played Danny Zuko when it was on Broadway. When he was offered a role in the movie adaptation that's the roll he thought was being offered to him.Linc - Beaumont, Tx
I think my favorite part of the Grease movie is the intro with this song and the animated sequence of everyone getting ready for school. Wonder why no one ever thought to make the Grease cartoons?Linc - Beaumont, Tx
I was always surprised at the sophisticated lyrics of this song, especially when most of the rest of the soundtrack sounds (and reads) like forgettable bubble gum. I saw the movie a few times when I was a teeny-bopper, first in the theater and then on video -- today I can't even get through it, I find so much about it so insipid. The live show was a bit better (I was a stagehand for a college production), with some intelligent subtext about the fantasy-versus-reality of the era, but the movie pretty much abandoned all of it.S.d. - Denver, Co
I love this opening song, backed by the cartoon titles. I saw this in NY back in 1978. I loved it then and still love it now.Jamie - Portland, Or
Frankie had more than a small part in The Sopranos. His character was named Rusty Millio and appeared in seven episodes before being shot in his own driveway by hired Italian hitmen.Jeff - Austin, Tx
c-o-n-v-e-n-t-i-o-n-a-l-i-t-y..belongs to yesterday....Susan - Westchestertonfieldville, Va
I remember seeing Frankie sing this tune on the Midnight Special in the early 80's. He did it as a duet with Lionel Richie and the Commodores. Oh the memories. I really miss those shows when music was still fun!!!Wendy - Liverpool, United Kingdom
I wish I could have seen this at a movie theatre. I missed it by five years - born in teh wrong era :DMartin - Amity, Ny, Ny
Awesome song, I can never tire of hearing it.Maria - Melbourne, Australia
I love doing this song at karioke. It's got a groove, lol.Jane - California, Ca
This song appears twice on the Grease songtrack, as Grease and Grease(reprise). The "is the word is the word is the word" works well to start the show and end the album.Dale - Santa Fe, Nm
the album Grease the soundtrack went No 2 Oct 1978 in Top Album catagory. Source Billboard top albums of 10 years ago list Oct 8, 1988Donna - College Station, Tx
All the songs in Grease are FAB!!Elia - Oswestry, Wales
Barry was nominated for an Ivor Novello award in 1978 for this song.Sarah - Usa, Ia
The Sweet Inspirations (Elvis's backing group) sang backing vocals on Grease.Paul - Uk, England
Grease is the word.Joseph - Bowling Green, Ky
Frankie has a small part on the Soprano's, blink your eyes and you'll miss it!Phil - San Jose, Ca