Olivia Newton-John & Electric Light Orchestra - Xanadu [Single/Album Version]Details

Do Ya page in Wembley Or Bust book"Y'know, I usually don't produce other people. Olivia was the only one I've ever done."
Jeff Lynne (August 8, 1980 - The ELO Story radio show)

"It was very strange because I'd never produced anybody else but meself until now, so it was a bit strange..., sort of saying: Can you just try that bit again, and all this... I didn't know how far to go 'cause she was such a nice person that everything I suggested, y'know, she tried it."
Jeff Lynne (September 29, 1980 - Billboard Report radio spot)

"Not strictly speaking an ELO release (it has an ONJ B-side, for a start!), Xanadu (JET 185) itself hits the shops at the beginning of June, and was No. 1 by July 12th, a position it held for two weeks. Both its chart placing and its chart stay (it remained in the Top 75 for a total of 11 weeks) were helped not only by a regular 7-inch p/s (which consisted of a ghastly fluorescent pink backdrop overlaid with the film logo and ONJ's eyes), but also with a limited edition gatefold version, which cleverly retained the 'cut-out' eyes, so that when you opened the gatefold you could see the whole of ONJ's face, in a manner that bizarrely recalled the original sleeve of On The Third Day. In both cases, the records themselves were exactly the same, with a deep red label and backed with ONJ's Fool Country, which did not appear on the soundtrack. An orginary 7-inch p/s is worth £4, and a gatefold sleeve version £6-7. Finally, to push the single over the final hurdle to the top slot, Jet released a 10-inch pink vinyl pressing (JET 10-185) which had a circular hole cut into the picture bag in order that you could see Livvy's face, which now formed a picture label. This spectacularly tacky item is worth a tenner or more these days."
Andrew Whiteside (1992 - Face The Music fanzine #12)

"All of which sets up the title track [Xanadu]. and the album's closer, rather well. For the first time since their debut album, Jeff gives over lead vocals on an entire song to another vocalist, inevitably Olivia Newton-John. As with All Over The World, this smacks strongly of having been assembled on a production line rather than out of any genuine desire to do a collaboration (especially when you consider that ONJ added her vocal in an entirely different studio after the backing track was completed!), and it's therefore almost impossible to listen to it without a sour taste in your mouth. Suffice to say, the backing track sounds completely at odds with the vocal, and neither band nor singer can honestly say it's great performance. Not that Joe Public cared; it gave ELO their first and only UK No. 1 hit (and ONJ her last!) when released as a single. It was curiously bloodless triumph when you consider the records they put out that never made the top slot though."
Andrew Whiteside (1992 - Face The Music fanzine #12)

"July [1980]: A row breaks out over the single of Xanadu, then at No. 1. The film will not appear until September, but Jet have preempted it with the single release. Said a spokesperson for the film's distributors: 'Obviously we would have liked the record company to have released Xanadu nearer the movie date.' Jet were unrepentant: 'The Grease album was out three months before the film, and when we heard Xanadu it was such an obvious single, we just had to release it. And of course, we were proved right: it's number one.' However, due to an industrial dispute, Top Of The Pops (the UK's most watched music show) was blacked out-- ELO's first (and only!) No. 1 and no-one sees it!"
Rob Caiger (1992 - Face The Music fanzine #12)

"Jeff: 'It was very strange because I never produced anybody else but myself until now, so it was a bit strange..., sort of saying: Can you try that bit again, but she (Olivia) was such a nice person that everything I suggested she tried... We worked so hard for it, and now I'm so thrilled about how the songs worked out.'"
Patrik Guttenbacher, Marc Haines, & Alexander von Petersdorff (1996 Unexpected Messages)

"No, I didn't really, didn't expect [Xanadu to go to #1], actually, I was never a great fan of the record, I can't say it's one of my favorites by any means, but it obviously caught the public's imagination. [We found out early that it hit #1 because] in those days, you used to know, a little before, you'd know, certainly a day before, So we had the news from our office to say that it had gone to number one. Obviously we were delighted, of course we were. [...] [I wouldn't actually regard it as one of my favorites, although it's one of the most successful.] That's right, yeah, I think it's probably, if not the least, of all the hits we've ever had it's certainly one of my least favorites, I must say, yeah. [...] But it was a really difficult song to record because Jeff had sent the demo, Jeff Lynne had sent the demo of the song to the studio in Hollywood, and they had actually shot the dance sequence to the demo. So when we came to record it for real, we had to keep in time with the demo, and the demo was not in time, so... it was a bit of a nightmare to actually record the thing. I believe it [the music in the film is different from the music on the record], yeah, it's all to do with, you know, the shooting of the film to this inaccurate tape which was, it took us days and days to actually record the backing track, which was a very simple song to record, really, because of all the technical problems. We were in Munich, in West Germany at the time doing it, and it became a very frustrating experience, making what should have taken a couple of hours took about three or four days, as I remember. Well, working with Olivia was... was a great experience 'cause she's a lovely, lovely lady. And, um, a real pleasure to work with. So, that, uh, that part was terrific. Y'know, as I say, it was hard work because of all these technical difficulties, really. Oh, she came over. She flew over. Uh, with her assistant, a girl called Flo. Who, funnily enough, designed one of our stage clothes from years before that... an old Australian girl. And they, um, they flew up to Munich. And just spent two days, uh, re-- doing the vocals. And she was just terrific."
Bev Bevan (1997 - interview by Martin Kinch; Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio Sponsored Number One Marathon)

"It was quite difficult because it was the theme tune of the song... um... of the film. And that was quite hard to write. I think construction wise, that's one of me best songs. I know it's a bit soft, probably, but it... it's actually... the chord structure, I'm really, really pleased with. I've always liked the chord sequences. She sang it great. And, uh, and I thought John [Farrar's] songs were really great too."
Jeff Lynne (October 1998 - interview with Mark Copolov on 88.3 Southern FM Australia)

"[The Xanadu soundtrack included] the title track Xanadu, the only single by either of them ever to hit #1 in the U.K."
Unknown (May 2001 - 2001 ELO remasters press kit)
Editor's Note: While Xanadu was ELO's only UK #1 song, it was not Olivia's as she had previously hit with You're the One That I Want and Summer Nights, both in 1978.

"It was fun. I mean I really liked Olivia Newton-John and I thought she sung it really well. The song, I think the way it's constructed, it's one of me favorite songs I've ever done, believe it or not. It's a bit light. But it's a nice tune."
Jeff Lynne (June 2 & 9, 2001 - Mr. Blue Sky: The Jeff Lynne Story 2001 BBC 2 Radio show)

"I'd have to say Xanadu [is my favorite song] off [the] Xanadu [album], because I like the chord structure of that and I like the way Olivia Newton-John sings it."
Jeff Lynne (June 12, 2001 - interview with DJs Mark & Brian on 95.5 KLOS)

"Though the [Xanadu] movie itself was heavily criticised, the music was warmly embraced and the title track, sung with Olivia Newton-John, gave Lynne his first No.1 UK single and another Ivor Novello Award for Best Film Theme Song."
Author Unknown (March 31, 2003 - website only expanded liner notes for ELO 2 remaster CD)

"[Olivia Newton-John recorded her vocals for Xanadu in] Musicland - she worked with the ELO on the track. There's a couple of nice outtakes from the session but she was there with the group in person."
Rob Caiger (May 29, 2003 - Showdown mailing list)

"I felt a familiar tug, as though I had to pee, or blast ELO till my face melted. At home, listening to the ancient songs in my bedroom, I knew I had found a kind of Rosetta Stone to my youth. 'The love, the echoes of long ago / You needed the world to know / They are in Xanadu.' I was six years old again. I was in love. And I wasn't the only one. "
Sarah Hepola (November 3, 2003 - The Morning News)

"Most of 1980 was taken up with writing for the Xanadu soundtrack, which spawned more singles, a UK No. 1, plus a further Ivor Novello Award for Best Film Theme Song."
Rob Caiger (2003 liner notes for The Collection)

"I love the tune, Xanadu. It's one of me favorite songs I ever wrote. I really like the song, Xanadu."
Jeff Lynne (July 5, 2005 - Face The Music: The Story of the Electric Light Orchestra BBC 2 Radio show)

"The film concludes with a tribal-disco roller-skating orgy of an opening night. While you'd never expect any song to top such mayhem, which includes Gene Kelly on roller skates, Olivia Newton-John belts out Xanadu with such a fiercely thin voice that it becomes difficult to focus on the variety show that is occurring all around her. ELO's silky strings and piano flourishes top Xanadu off in the right fashion—proving that excess might not always be tasteful, but it's always hard to forget. "
Nate De Young (October 28, 2005 - Stylus online magazine's A Kiss After Supper article)

"Incredibly, [ELO] didn't have a Number 1 until 1980 when they teamed up with grin-on-a-stick Olivia Newton-John for Xanadu."
Author Unknown (September, 2006 - Q Magazine Sep 2006)

"A string of hit singles ensued [including] Xanadu (with Olivia Newton-John -- their only Number One)."
Martin Hutchinson (November 2, 2012 - Birmingham Post)

"The title song [Xanadu], with Olivia Newton-John on vocals, credited to singer and group, was released on Olivia’s then label MCA in America and on Jet throughout the rest of the world. It gave the group their first and last British chart-topping single, ironically at a time when there was no weekly Top Of The Pops on BBC television to hail them as ‘this week’s No. 1’, for the show was missing from the schedules for several weeks that summer due to a Musicians’ Union strike. Because Jeff had never produced anybody but himself until then—with the exception of a small amount of work on Del Shannon’s sessions a few years earlier—he found it strange to say, ‘Can you try that bit again, but she was such a nice person that everything I suggested she tried.’ However, as Olivia added her vocals to the backing track in a different studio entirely, it is apparent that she and the songwriter were probably not working together much in person."
John Van der Kiste (August 2015 - Jeff Lynne: Electric Light Orchestra - Before and After)

"In fact, Xanadu's probably one of me favorite songs I ever wrote. 'Cause the chord changes in it are good, again."
Jeff Lynne (November 2012 - video interview by Adam Weissler for Extra TV)

"I think the tune Xanadu is one of me better numbers, even though it's very light."
Jeff Lynne (December, 2015 - MOJO magazine)

"Strangely, ELO only ever had one number one single, Xanadu with Olivia Newton-John."
Mark Magill (April 2, 2016 - Southport Visitor)

"The [Xanadu] album produced the hits All Over The World and the title track which went to #1 in the UK, the band’s only single to reach the top spot."
Andrew Gutteridge (September 5, 2018 - Counteract website)

"In 1980, MCA Records suggested I write half the music for the film Xanadu, starring Olivia Newton-John. John farrar, who normally wrote the music for Olivia, would write the other half of the album and the movie soundtrack. So it just happened like that, and the first song I wrote was I'm Alive, which did well as a single in May of that year. Then they put out Xanadu in June and it got to number one. It was actually my first number one and I always liked the tune, so I was thrilled with that. The production wasn't quite as I wanted it, but it isn't bad. The original is a bit too pop for me, just a little bit too sweet. But the tune is still really good..."
Jeff Lynne (November 2018 - Wembley Or Bust book)

"Although the 1980 film [Xanadu] starring Newton-John and the band Electric Light Orchestra was not a critical success, the film’s soundtrack scored double platinum status in the U.S. and Canada. The hit singles Magic and Xanadu peaked at No. 1 in the United States and the United Kingdom."
Lucille Barilla (September 4, 2018 - Inquisitr website)

listenThis sample the line in question: the first is the normal backing vocal line from the end of verse 2, the second is the broken up backing vocal line from the end of the verse 4, and the third is an edit to remove the gaps from the broken up backing vocal line (which may sound odd as it throws the beat off).
The backing vocal line at the end of the fourth verse is curious and has been often misidentified. The original album liner notes do not list the backing vocal lines and it is identified on many Internet sites as "The dreamer in you, will make it happen for you". It is, in fact, the line "The dream in you, they offer you" with some special effects added to break up the vocal line, therefore it sounds like "The dre-eam in you-ou, the-ey o-offer you-ou".


  • Running Time: 3:28
  • Record Date: Late 1979 and/or early 1980
  • Record Location: Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany
  • Written By: Jeff Lynne
  • Produced By: Jeff Lynne
  • Engineered By: Mack
  • Performed By: Olivia Newton-John (vocals), Jeff Lynne (vocals, guitar, synthesizer), Bev Bevan (drums, percussion), Richard Tandy (piano, synthesizer, all other keyboards), Kelly Groucutt (bass), Louis Clark (orchestra conductor)

  • Released On:
    • Xanadu LP album (1980 June — USA — MCA MCA 6100)
    • Xanadu LP album (1980 July 11 — UK — Jet JET LX 526)
    • Xanadu 7" single (1980 June — UK — Jet JET 185)
    • Xanadu pink vinyl 10" single (1980 June — UK — Jet JET 10-185)
    • Xanadu 7" single (1980 August — USA — MCA MCA-41285)
    • Xanadu 7" promo single (1980 August — USA — MCA MCA-41285)
    • Xanadu 10" promo picture disc (1980 — USA — MCA MCA-10384)
    • Olivia's Greatest Hits Vol. 2 Olivia Newton-John LP album (1982 September 1 — USA — MCA MCA-5347)
    • Olivia's Greatest Hits Olivia Newton-John LP album (1982 October 12 — UK — EMI ?EMTV 36)
    • Olivia's Greatest Hits Vol. 2 Olivia Newton-John CD album (1988 April 25 — USA — MCA MCAD-5347)
    • Light Years: The Very Best Of Electric Light Orchestra Electric Light Orchestra CD album (1997 October 1 — UK — Epic 489039 2)
    • Xanadu CD album (1998 February 23 — UK — Epic 486620 2)
    • Xanadu CD album (1998 September 8 — USA — MCA MCAD-11857)
    • The Ultimate Collection Electric Light Orchestra CD album (2001 October 22 — UK — Sony Music STVCD126)
    • Magic: The Very Best of Olivia Newton-John Olivia Newton-John CD album (2001 September 11 — USA — Universal Music 585 233)
    • The Definitive Collection Olivia Newton-John CD album (2004 October 18 — USA — Universal Music 5842792)
    • Gold Olivia Newton-John CD album (2005 June 14 — USA — Hip-O B0004684-02)
    • Gold Olivia Newton-John digital album (2005 June 14 — USA — Hip-O 602498281161)
    • The Best Of Electric Light Orchestra digital album (2006 November 1 — USA — SRI Records 821603643971)
    • Blades Of Glory CD album (2007 March 27 — USA — Lakeshore Records 78016339102) [incorrectly credited to Olivia Newton-John only]
    • Xanadu: Magical Musical Edition DVD/CD album (2008 June 24 — USA — Universal 61103532)
    • Xanadu digital album (2015 November 20 — UK — Epic 008811185725)
    • Xanadu digital album (2015 November — USA — Geffen 602517629974)
    • Blades Of Glory digital album (2016 October 14 — UK — Lakeshore Records ?) [incorrectly credited to Olivia Newton-John only]
    • Blades Of Glory digital album (2016 October 14 — USA — Lakeshore Records ?) [incorrectly credited to Olivia Newton-John only]

  • Top UK Chart Position: 1
  • Top US Chart Position: 8
  • Cover Versions:
    • Irene Sheer on her Xanadu single (1980/1995/1999) (sung in German)
    • Street Power on their Hits On 33 album (1980)
    • James Last on his Tanz Mit Mir album (1980)
    • Franz Lambert on his Pop Orgel Hitparade 7 album (1980)
    • Cavarelli on a Xanadu single (1980)
    • The Music Machine on a Xanadu covers album (1980)
    • La Sound on their Xanadu tribute album (1980s)
    • Botones on their Xanadu single (1981) (sung in Spanish)
    • Cantus Chor on a Amiga Quartett EP (1981)
    • Felicitas Taylor on the Miss Supertype album (1981) (retitled as Miss Supertype)
    • Jack Livingston Orchestra and Singers on their A Tribute To ELO album (early 1980s)
    • Jack Livingston Orchestra and Singers on their A Tribute To ELO album (early 1980s)
    • Miki Asakura on a Screen EP (1983)
    • Seiko Matsuda & Naoko Kawai on an unidentified Japanese TV program (1980s)
    • Yousuke Tagawa & Yoshimi Iwasaki on an unidentified Japanese TV program (1980s)
    • Hugh Mason and His Sound Orchestra on their Movie Dancing album (1988)
    • Dante Connelly's Akkordeon Sound on a Matador And More Top Hits album (19??)
    • David Last from an unknown source as a medley with All Over The World (date uncertain)
    • Hollywood Screen Orchestra on an album of unknown origin (19??)
    • Frank Purcel Grand Orchestra on their Turbo Rhapsody album (199?)
    • Ace Cannon from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Angels from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Beatriz Luengo & Yaima from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Bo Anderson from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Bob Downe from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Captian Smartypants from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Diandra Newlin from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Doodleranch from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Elektel from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Fausto Papetti from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Film Studio Orchestra from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Franz Lambert from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Hanna from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Ilona Graf from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Ingmar Nordstroms from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Javier Alvarez from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Juanita from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Kai Warner from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • London Starlight Orchestra from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Maria De Luz from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Mark Baratelli from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Mark S. Meritt from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Menudo from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Monna from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Patricia Lewis from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • reDiscovery from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Regine Velasquez from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Rockfour from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Sammy Cheng from an his radio show (date uncertain)
    • Sarka Vankova from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Suzanne Lanoue from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Tarina and Scott Everett from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • The Fevers from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Tiger Shovelnose from an unknown source (date uncertain)
    • Electric Light Orchestra Part II during live performances (1990s)
    • Yukio Yung on his Jeff Lynne EP (1994)
    • Jo Destré Et Ses Joyeux Lurons from an unknown origin (1994)
    • Unknown Artist on the 50 Golden Trumpet Favorites album (1994)
    • The Wondermints during live performances (1994)
    • Paula featuring Olivia on the Xanadu single (1995)
    • The Olivia Project on the Xanadu The Remixes album (1995)
    • Kirsty K from her Xanadu single (1996)
    • The Darwins from an unknown origin (1997)
    • Lounge-O-Leers from their Experiment in Terror album (1998)
    • Hiromi Iwasaki during live performances (date uncertain)
    • Orchestra during live performances (2000s)
    • Naoko & Matsuda Kiyoko on an unidentified Japanese TV program (2000s)
    • Lisa from an unknown origin (2000)
    • LMP from an unknown origin (2000)
    • Neilson Hubbard and Venus Hum on the Lynne Me Your Ears tribute album (2001)
    • Patricia Lewis from an unknown origin (2002)
    • Darlington from their Louder Than Morrissey album (2002)
    • Crystal from an unknown origin (although it has turned up on bootlegs)
    • Andrew Scarface from an unknown source (200?)
    • Evelyn from an unknown source (200?)
    • Sun Flower Orchestra during a live tribute concert (October 2003)
    • Danii Minogue from her Xanadu single (200?)
    • DJ Happy Vibes featuring JAZZMIN from their Xanadu single (200?)
    • Northern Dance Society/POP! featuring Lauren Waterworth on the Xanadu 12" single (2005)
    • Picnic on their John Coal Train Dials Mavis album (2006)
    • Unknown artist in Softbank (Japan) TV ads (2007)
    • Lightspeed Champion from Galaxy Of The Lost album (2007)
    • Broadway Cast at Broadway Xanadu play and cast recording album (2007/2008)
    • Meridith Patterson on an episode of Boston Legal (2007)
    • Roger the Alien on an episode (S03E01) of American Dad entitled The Vacation Goo (2007)
    • Electric Live Orchestra during live performances (2008)
    • Cat Fight on the Hits In Punk album (2008)
    • Oh Astro on the Champions of Wonder album (2008)
    • Sarah Blasko on her As Day Follows Night album with bonus disc (July 2009)
    • Almighty on their Xanadu single (2009)
    • High School Musical Masters on the Hit Teen Musicals Mania! album (2009)
    • The Magic Orchestra during a live performances (2009)
    • Abductee on his MySpace page (2009)
    • Sharleen Spiteri on the The Movie Songbook album (2010)
    • Rachel Alejandro on the Believe album (2010)
    • Maggie Mckenna at the closing ceremonies of the XXI Commonwealth Games (2018)

  • Used in the Film or TV Program:
    • WKRP in Cincinnati episode Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide (1981)
    • Water Boys episode Water Boys 2005 Natsu (2005) [Japanese TV]
    • Blades Of Glory (2007) [the scene using the song was cut from the final cut of the film]
    • Lost episode Eggtown (2008)

  • Used in the Advertising Campaign:
    • IBM Supertype (1981 — USA?) [cover by Felicitas Taylor]
    • Softbank (Summer 2007 — Japan) [unidentified cover artist]

  • Used as a Sample in the Songs:
    • Election '80 by Dickie Goodman (1980)
    • Come On And Dance With Me by Ginji Itoh (1983)
    • Sana Do (Haing Gabi Mix) by Andrew E. on the Banyo Queen album (2002)
    • Mom & Dad (Intro To Success) by Sean Brown on the First In Line album (2010)
    • That's Just Me by XV on the Zero Heroes album (2011)