Grease

Album: Grease Soundtrack (1978)
Charted: 3 1

Songfacts®:

  • 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 its 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 the life of illusion
    Wrapped up in trouble
    Laced with confusion
    What are we doing here?


    (This was three years before Joe Walsh released "A Life Of Illusion.")

    The lyrics 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • On January 31, 2016, the Fox network aired a live musical version of Grease, which opened with Jessie J performing this song in a long tracking shot that traversed the set and introduced much of the cast, including Boys II Men, who played the Teen Angel and did some of their "Motownphilly" harmonies in this opening number.

Comments: 27

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1978 {July 4th} Frankie Valli was a guest on the nationally syndicated weekday-afternoon television program, 'The Mike Douglas Show'...
    At the time his "Grease" was at position #16 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, seven weeks later it would peak at #1 {for 2 weeks} and it spent twenty two weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #3 on the United Kingdom's Singles chart...
    Between 1966 and 1980 the Newark, New Jersey native, as a solo artist, had fourteen* records on the Top 100 chart, four made the Top 10 with three reaching #1, besides the above "Grease", his two other #1 records were "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" for 1 week in 1967 and "My Eyes Adored You" for 1 week in 1975...
    Beside his three #1 records his fourth Top 10 record was "Swearin' to God" {#6 for 1 week in July of 1975}...
    As a member of the Four Seasons he charted forty-two times, fourteen made the the Top 10 with five reaching #1, "Sherry" for 5 weeks in 1962, "Big Girls Don't Cry" for 5 weeks in 1962, "Walk Like A Man" for 3 weeks in 1963, "Rag Doll" for 2 weeks in 1964, and "December 1963 {Oh What A Night}" for 3 weeks in 1976...
    And as a member of the Wonder Who?, four of their records made the Top 100 chart, with their covered version of Dylan's "Don't Think Twice" peaking at #12 in 1965...
    In 1956 he was a member of the Four Lovers, they had one Top 100 record, "You're the Apple of My Eye", it reached #62, and on May 6th, 1956 they performed the song on 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    Frankie Valli, born Francesco Stephen Castelluccio, celebrated his 85th birthday two months ago on May 3rd, 2019...
    * And from the 'For What It's Worth' department; he just missed having a fifteenth Top 10 record when his covered version of "Our Day Will Come" peaked at #11 {for 2 weeks} in December of 1975...
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 9th 1978, Frankie Valli performed "Grease" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #2 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and eleven days later on September 20th, 1978 it would peaked at #1 and spent a total of 22 weeks on the Top 100.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhThe 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.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn 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).
  • Jinny from Brighton , United KingdomThis is one of my favorite songs from the grease soundtrack.
  • Melissa from London, United KingdomDooms UK did an alternative rock cover of this song. It can be heard on the 1996 CD album 'Sandy Does Dallas'.
  • Richard from Calimesa, CaThis song almost didn't make it into the movie because it sounded too "contemporary",given the film's 1950s setting
  • Paul from Oceanside, NyMy 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!!!!
  • Jennifer Harris from Grand Blanc, MiI 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.
  • Mallory from Upper Marlboro, MdI prefer the songs in Grease to any other film!
  • Linc from Beaumont, TxAlso 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 from Beaumont, TxI 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?
  • S.d. from Denver, CoI 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.
  • Jamie from Portland, OrI 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.
  • Jeff from Austin, TxFrankie 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.
  • Susan from Westchestertonfieldville, Vac-o-n-v-e-n-t-i-o-n-a-l-i-t-y..belongs to yesterday....
  • Wendy from Liverpool, United KingdomI 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!!!
  • Martin from Amity, Ny, NyI wish I could have seen this at a movie theatre. I missed it by five years - born in teh wrong era :D
  • Maria from Melbourne, AustraliaAwesome song, I can never tire of hearing it.
  • Jane from California, CaI love doing this song at karioke. It's got a groove, lol.
  • Dale from Santa Fe, NmThis 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.
  • Donna from College Station, Txthe album Grease the soundtrack went No 2 Oct 1978 in Top Album catagory. Source Billboard top albums of 10 years ago list Oct 8, 1988
  • Elia from Oswestry, WalesAll the songs in Grease are FAB!!
  • Sarah from Usa, IaBarry was nominated for an Ivor Novello award in 1978 for this song.
  • Paul from Uk, EnglandThe Sweet Inspirations (Elvis's backing group) sang backing vocals on Grease.
  • Joseph from Bowling Green, KyGrease is the word.
  • Phil from San Jose, CaFrankie has a small part on the Soprano's, blink your eyes and you'll miss it!
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