Xanadu

 

Olivia Newton-John & Electric Light Orchestra -- Xanadu

An in-depth song analysis


Olivia Newton-John & Electric Light Orchestra
Electric Light Orchestra
  • 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)

    Initially Released On: Xanadu LP album (1980 June — USA — MCA MCA 6100)

  • Record Date: late 1990s and/or early 2000
  • Record Location: Jeff Lynne's home studio, Los Angeles
  • Written By: Jeff Lynne
  • Produced By: Jeff Lynne
  • Engineered By: Ryan Ulyate & Marc Mann
  • Performed By: Jeff Lynne (vocal, guitar, drums, bass), Marc Mann (keyboards)

    Initially Released On: Flashback CD album (2000 November 21 — USA — Epic/Legacy E3K 85123)

  • Comments and Observations

    Xanadu was recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany late in 1979 and/or early in 1980 with both Olivia Newton-John and the Electric Light Orchestra present for the full session. Olivia sang the lead and harmony vocals, while Jeff Lynne sang all backing and additional harmony vocals. The song had earlier been recorded as a demo. This demo was provided to the motion picture's producers and the dance sequences for the motion picture were filmed to the demo rather than the final song. Therefore when it came time to record the final song at the studio in Germany, the band had to match the final song's beat to the imperfect beat of the demo so that the final song would work with the parts filmed for the motion picture. As a result, the beat of the song is slightly off tempo although not noticeably by most people. Jeff Lynne has stated on multiple occasions that although he considers the song to be a bit soft or light, it's still one of his most favorite songs that he wrote. It is also a rare instance of an ELO hit that has no instrumental bridge.

    The song was released as a single in England on Jet records (ELO's label) on June 1980 with stock number "JET 185" with Olivia's Fool Country (no Jeff Lynne involvement) on the B-side. In the USA, it's the 22nd single release by ELO and was released in August of 1980 on MCA Records (Olivia Newton-John's label) with stock number "MCA-41285" with the album version of Whenever You're Away From Me on the B-side, a song which is an Olivia duet with Gene Kelly and has no ELO involvement. It was also released as the final track of the ELO side on the Xanadu album on June 1980 in the USA and July 1980 in England.

    Regarding the UK and USA release dates for the Xanadu single, there was some controversy between MCA and Jet Records about them. Apparently MCA wanted Magic to be the first Olivia single release from the album, which they did, simultaneously with ELO's I'm Alive in June of 1980. However, in the UK, Jet Records released Xanadu first in defiance of MCA's wishes, along with ELO's I'm Alive. In August of 1980, MCA finally released Xanadu along with ELO's All Over The World in North America.

    The single had a few interesting collectible releases as well. First off, the original picture sleeve for the UK single has a gatefold picture sleeve where the inside cover features a close up picture of Olivia's face. The front cover is all pink with a rectangle cut out to allow only Olivia's eyes from the inside cover to been seen through the front cover. This gatefold cover was a very limited release. It was subsequently released in the UK as a standard picture sleeve with the front the same as the gatefold sleeve, but without the cut out and Olivia's eyes are not seen. Instead, it is solid pink. The UK single was re-released again later with no picture sleeve and a standard Jet paper sleeve, featuring the building and clouds. All UK 7" issues have the same stock number. Also of interest is that in the UK was released a collectible 10" record (Jet JET 10-185) on pink vinyl featuring a large circle cut out of the sturdy cardboard sleeve that allowed the large record label featuring Olivia's face to show through.

    There has been a great deal of confusion over the picture sleeves for the USA single. The known facts are that in the collectors market are two USA singles found in picture sleeves, one with a black and white image of Olivia from the film and another with a yellow background and black writing. The true origins of these sleeves is rather mysterious, but it is now believed that they are actually from Belgium and not the US. Although the vinyl records themselves are the standard USA release on MCA records (MCA-41285), the picture sleeves have no identifiable markings that indicate their origin. Some claim that they are USA issues (including OnlyOlivia.com) while others claim they are bootleg covers. But many fans declare them as Belgian issue singles and they are sold that way by many dealers. So why would the Belgian singles have the USA MCA single rather than a European Jet single in them? It is known that by the end of the 1970s, many European countries were importing records from other countries rather than manufacturing their own. It is likely that Belgium imported the USA single, possibly not knowing that it was on a different label. They added their own covers, maybe even as a way to hide the fact that the record was on a different label. Whatever the full facts are in this case, it is now a reasonable certainty that these singles are actually Belgian in origin, with the vinyl imported from the US to be sold domestically.

    In the US, there was a promotional 10" picture disc released as well (MCA MCA-10384). This release is extremely rare and is a highly sought collector's item. Only about 31 copies were made (according to fan site OnlyOlivia.com) and they were given away at one of the Xanadu motion picture premieres in Los Angeles and/or to film and record company employees. It features the standard release of Xanadu on both sides.

    Xanadu is ELO's first and only #1 hit and Olivia Newton-John's third #1 hit on the UK charts. It entered the UK charts on June 21, 1980, hit #1 for two consecutive weeks on July 12th and 19th, and stayed on the charts for 11 weeks. It replaced Don McLean's rendition of Crying at the #1 UK spot and was replaced at #1 by Use It Up And Wear It Out by Odyssey. In the USA, it didn't quite have as much success, with both Olivia and ELO having much bigger hits with other songs. It entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart on August 10, 1980, reached #8 for two consecutive weeks on October 12 & 19, 1980, spending 17 weeks in the chart. The song has been touted as being the only song in the Billboard Hot 100 to begin with the letter "X" until 2000 when the song X by rapper Xzibit entered the chart. It remains the only "X" song in the Billboard Top 40. In addition, it entered the USA's Cash Box Top 100 chart on August 9, 1980, reached #9 for two consecutive weeks on October 11 & 18, 1980, spending 20 weeks in the chart and it reached a peak of #4 on the Record World Top 40 chart. It's ELO's 20th and Olivia's 25th Billboard chart single.

    The song, as used in the Xanadu film, has an interesting sequence and produced some interesting variations. As the Xanadu dance sequence begins, it first uses an alternate version of ELO's Drum Dreams song. This fades into a version of Xanadu which is mostly the same as the album/single version (but with a different ending). This then leads into a song and dance sequence using Olivia's Fool Country (which is written and produced by John Farrar and has no Jeff Lynne involvement). Immediately following this is a reprise of the Xanadu song's final chorus and ending that uses a completely different take than the album/single version. This is the entire dance sequence at the film's end as one continuous long song from Drum Dreams to the end of the Xanadu reprise, running nearly eleven minutes. In addition, the closing credits of the film features an edit of the version used in the dance sequence above.

    In 2000, for the Electric Light Orchestra Flashback boxed set, ELO recorded a new version of the song with Jeff Lynne singing the lead vocal parts. On this set the song is subtitled as "New Version" (which seems a bit of a misnomer given that it's now over eight years old). The basic structure of the song is the same, however many of the keyboard parts are replaced by guitar and overall it's a more guitar oriented version of the song. Some of the lyrics were changed as well, such as "An everlasting world and you're here with me, eternally" changed to "An everlasting world and you're here with me, so let it be" and "Xanadu, your neon lights will shine for you, Xanadu" changed to "Xanadu, your neon lights will shine in Xanadu". All of the backing vocal parts are removed from the verses. And the "now that I'm here, now that you're near" line at the song's end is not sung, but instead played on guitar.

    In truth, the 2000 ELO version of the song is more of a Jeff Lynne solo effort than a band effort. It was recorded some time in the late 1990s and/or early 2000 in Jeff Lynne's home studio in Los Angeles. Marc Mann contributed some keyboard, but other than that, all instruments are by Jeff Lynne alone. This version of the song was never released as a single and had no chart success.

    On May 19, 1981, Jeff Lynne was given the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for Best Film Theme Song. The Ivor Novello Awards are the top songwriting awards in England presented each year by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters.

    The song has taken some criticism over the years, both from fans and critics, as well as from the artists themselves. Bev Bevan has publicly stated in interviews that he doesn't care for the song. Jeff Lynne has stated that he thinks it's a bit soft and light (but he still refers to it as one of his favorite songs he's written). In addition, with Olivia Newton-John's decline in popularity amongst music critics (not necessarily the public), the song became symbolic to some of over-commercialization and Olivia's do-gooder, soft rock image (which is ironic considering she had a hit the following year with the racy Physical song). Then there is the disco nature of many of the songs from the film, when disco was declining in popularity. The most damning cause of criticism to the song is the failure of the film itself, for which Xanadu is the title song. Given all this, the song Xanadu as performed by Olivia Newton-John and ELO takes quite a beating from music fans and critics (fair or not) as soft, commercial, disco, schmaltzy and an altogether undesireable song. All that said, the film and the song have had a recent resurgence in popularity with the Broadway play beginning in 2007 and many fans unashamed to admit that it's a feel good movie with a campy, but simple plot and fantastic music.

    The song also is probably one of the most covered songs by Olivia and ELO, with over 50 cover versions known, most famously by Pop! (under the pseudonym Northern Dance Society) and Danii Minogue.

    Structure and Lyrics

    Below is the structure of the fullest, most complete version of the originally released song as available on the standard issues of the single and Xanadu album as well as the Flashback album.

    Olivia Newton-John & Electric Light Orchestra
    Lyric sheet from USA Xanadu album
    Electric Light Orchestra
    -Keyboard Intro
    -Verse 1
       A place, where nobody dared to go
       The love that we came to know
       They call it Xanadu

       (The days you cried, can't be denied)
    -Verse 2
       And now, open your eyes and see
       What we have made is real
       We are in Xanadu

       (The dream in you, they offer you)
    -Vocal Bridge 1
       A million lights are dancing and there you are, a shooting star
       An everlasting world and you're here with me, eternally

    -Chorus 1
       Xanadu, Xanadu, (now we are here) in Xanadu (Xanadu)
       Xanadu, Xanadu,
    (now we are here) in Xanadu
       Xanadu, your neon lights will shine
       For you, Xanadu

    -Verse 3
       The love, the echoes of long ago
       You needed the world to know
       They are in Xanadu

       (The love you gave, you'll dream away) *
    -Verse 4
       The dream that came through a million years
       That lived on through all the tears
       It came to Xanadu

       (The dream in you, they offer you) **
    -Vocal Bridge 2
       A million lights are dancing and there you are, a shooting star
       An everlasting world and you're here with me, eternally

    -Chorus 2
       Xanadu, Xanadu, (now we are here) in Xanadu (Xanadu)
       Xanadu, Xanadu,
    (now we are here) in Xanadu (Xanadu, Xanadu)
    -Ending
       Now that I'm here, now that you're near, in Xanadu
       Now that I'm here, now that you're near, in Xanadu
       Xanadu!

    All lyrics shown in parentheses are sung by ELO, not Olivia

    Original Lyric Sheet from Xanadu -Guitar Intro
    -Verse 1
       A place where nobody dared to go
       The love that we came to know
       They call it Xanadu

    -Verse 2
       And now, open your eyes and see
       What we have made is real
       We are in Xanadu

    -Vocal Bridge 1
       A million lights are dancing and there you are, a shooting star
       An everlasting world and you're here with me, so let it be

    -Chorus 1
       Xanadu, Xanadu, (now we are here) in Xanadu
       Xanadu, Xanadu, (now we are here) in Xanadu
       Xanadu, your neon lights will shine
       In Xanadu

    -Verse 3
       The love, the echoes of long ago
       Needed the world to know
       They are in Xanadu

    -Verse 4
       The dream that came through a million years
       That lived on through all the tears
       It came to Xanadu

    -Vocal Bridge 2
       A million lights are dancing and there you are, a shooting star
       An everlasting world and you're here with me, so let it be

    -Chorus 2
       Xanadu, Xanadu, (now we are here) in Xanadu
       Xanadu, Xanadu, in Xanadu

    -Ending
       Guitar riff
       In Xanadu
       Guitar riff
       In Xanadu, Xanadu!

    * The backing vocal line at the end of the third verse is often misidentified as "Now everyday, you'll dream away". The real lyric is "The love you gave, you'll dream away", although the "you'll dream way" lyric is uncertain and may be wrong. An example of this lyric can be heard HERE.

    ** 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". An example showing this is HERE, which is three samples-- 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).

    Variations

    There are six known non-live variations of the original Xanadu by Olivia Newton-John and ELO. Actually there are nine if the 5.1 mixes and their stereo mixdowns are counted separately. They are:

    -Xanadu (Standard Release)
    -Xanadu (Demo)
    -Xanadu (Movie Version) [5.1 and stereo mixes]
    -Xanadu (Reprise Movie Version) [5.1 and stereo mixes]
    -Xanadu (Closing Credits Version) [5.1 and stereo mixes]
    -Drum Dreams Xanadu (Xanadu Special Disco Sampler)

    Three (or six) variations of the original song are taken from the film. These mostly involve different vocal takes and/or edits. The film uses the song three times: First is the version used at the beginning of the Xanadu dance sequence which starts with ELO's Drum Dreams and this fades into the Xanadu song. This version (called here the Movie Version) is nearly the exact same recording as the album/single version, but there are slight differences in the mix (mainly percussion) and significantly the ending uses a different vocal take and ends very differently. A sample showing the ending, with album/single version first, following by the movie version, can he heard HERE. Following Olivia's version of Fool Country in the film is the second use of Xanadu (called here the Reprise Movie Version) which is only the song's final chorus and ending, but it is significant in that it is mostly a completely different take of the song with Olivia singing in a grander, more regal style. The final two lines of "Xanadu" revert to the standard single/album recording. Finally a third version of the song that plays over the film's closing credits (called here the Closing Credits Version) is simply an edit of the Movie Version, cutting everything from the second half of the first chorus to the second half of the second chorus. This version, although edited, is free of any sound effects or background dialog from the film.

    There was a remix (of sorts) of the song issued on a Japanese only promo 12" single (Jet XDAP 93034(JT)) that entitled the song as the "Xanadu Special Disco Sampler". It features approximately one minute of the single version of ELO's Drum Dreams merged with the full album/single version of Xanadu, thus simulating how the song is played in the film. Although the promo record is very rare, the mix is actually quite unremarkable.

    In addition to these, there is a demo. The very small portion of the demo was used briefly in the Xanadu film trailer. And a much longer but still incomplete edit of the demo was used as part of a Universal production reel featuring a shortened cut of the film. The demo, as taken from this production reel, is incomplete because, like in the film, it is cut in half to include the Fool Country part. It also includes a four note keyboard intro that was not used on the final song. Although a completely different take, it is included in the chart below to document the known changes from demo to final product.

    Song Section Lyric/Part Xanadu (Standard Release) Xanadu (Movie Version)
    [5.1 and stereo mixes]
    Xanadu (Reprise Movie Version)
    [5.1 and stereo mixes]
    Xanadu (Closing Credits Version)
    [5.1 and stereo mixes]
    * Xanadu (Demo)
    Four Note Intro Four Note Intro
    -
    -
    -
    -
    *
    YES
    Keyboard Intro Keyboard Intro
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    *
    YES
    Verse 1 A place, where nobody dared to go
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    *
    YES
    The love that we came to know
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    *
    YES
    They call it Xanadu
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    *
    YES
    (The days you cried can't be denied)
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    *
    YES, but no backing vocals
    Verse 2 And now, open your eyes and see
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    *
    YES
    What we have made is real
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    *
    YES
    We are in Xanadu
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    *
    YES
    (The dream in you, they offer you)
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    *
    YES, but no backing vocals
    Vocal Bridge 1 A million lights are dancing and there you are, a shooting star
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    *
    YES
    An everlasting world and you're here with me, eternally
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    *
    YES
    Chorus 1 Xanadu, Xanadu, (now we are here) in Xanadu (Xanadu)
    YES
    YES
    -
    YES
    *
    Unknown
    Xanadu, Xanadu, (now we are here) in Xanadu
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    *
    Unknown
    Xanadu, your neon lights will shine
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    *
    YES
    For you, Xanadu
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    *
    YES
    Verse 3 The love, the echoes of long ago
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    *
    Unknown
    You needed the world to know
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    *
    Unknown
    They are in Xanadu
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    *
    Unknown
    (The love you gave, you'll dream away)
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    *
    Unknown
    Verse 4 The dream that came through a million years
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    *
    Unknown
    That lived on through all the tears
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    *
    Unknown
    It came to Xanadu
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    *
    Unknown
    (The dream in you, they offer you)
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    *
    Unknown
    Vocal Bridge 2 A million lights are dancing and there you are, a shooting star
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    *
    Unknown
    An everlasting world and you're here with me, eternally
    YES
    YES
    -
    -
    *
    Unknown
    Chorus 2 Xanadu, Xanadu, (now we are here) in Xanadu (Xanadu)
    YES
    YES
    YES, but a different take
    -
    *
    YES
    Xanadu, Xanadu, (now we are here) in Xanadu (Xanadu, Xanadu)
    YES
    YES
    YES, but a different take
    YES
    *
    YES, but the final Xanadu, Xanadu lyric is missing
    Ending Now that I'm here, now that you're near, in Xanadu
    YES
    YES
    YES, but a different take
    YES
    *
    YES
    Now that I'm here, now that you're near...
    YES
    YES, but the vocals are a different take and the song ends abrubtly after the last lyric
    YES, but a different take
    YES, but the vocals are a different take and the song ends abrubtly after the last lyric
    *
    YES
    ...in Xanadu
    YES
    YES, but the vocals are a different take and the song ends abrubtly after the last lyric
    YES
    YES, but the vocals are a different take and the song ends abrubtly after the last lyric
    *
    YES
    Xanadu!
    YES
    -
    YES
    -
    *
    YES

    There are no known variations of the new 2000 version by the Electric Light Orchestra alone. All releases are identical

    Music Charts

    These are the known statistics for the various countries' music charts. If you know of charting information in other countries, please let me know at the email address listed at the bottom of this page.

    Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21 Week 22 Week 23 Week 24 Week 25 Week 26 Week 27 Week 28 Week 29
    UK Official Top 75 Chart Entry Date: June 21, 1980
    39
    14
    3
    1
    (July 12, 1980)
    1
    (July 19, 1980)
    2
    4
    13
    20
    35
    47
    USA Billboard Hot 100 Chart Entry Date: August 10, 1980
    79
    63
    43
    31
    26
    17
    12
    11
    10
    8
    (October 12, 1980)
    8
    (October 19, 1980)
    17
    27
    51
    58
    73
    94
    USA Cash Box Top 100 Chart Entry Date: August 9, 1980
    80
    61
    44
    31
    24
    19
    14
    12
    10
    9
    (October 11, 1980)
    9
    (October 18, 1980)
    10
    20
    32
    47
    50
    61
    68
    93
    97
    USA Record World Top 40 Chart Entry Date: [UNKNOWN]
    Peak of 4
    during a run of an unknown number of weeks on the chart
    Austria Φ3 Austria Top 40 Chart Entry Date: mid-August, 1980 Charts were on a twice monthly cycle
    2
    2
    1
    (mid-September, 1980)
    1
    (early October, 1980)
    4
    4
    8
    12
    16
    Australia Chart Entry Date: [UNKNOWN]
    Peak of 1
    during a run of an unknown number of weeks on the chart
    Canada Chart Entry Date: [UNKNOWN]
    Peak of 6
    during a run of an unknown number of weeks on the chart
    Germany Chart Entry Date: July 14, 1980
    30
    11
    4
    3
    2
    2
    2
    2
    1
    (September 8, 1980)
    1
    (September 15, 1980)
    3
    5
    6
    7
    6
    6
    8
    10
    15
    15
    19
    23
    23
    33
    34
    39
    44
    54
    66
    Holland Top 40 (De Nederlandse Top 40) Chart Entry Date: June 21, 1980
    31
    19
    11
    5
    2
    2
    1
    (July 26, 1980)
    1
    (August 2, 1980)
    1
    (August 9, 1980)
    2
    3
    8
    13
    23
    31
    40
    Holland Top 50 (Origin uncertain) Chart Entry Date: June 28, 1980
    48
    8
    3
    1
    (July 19, 1980)
    1
    (July 26, 1980)
    1
    (August 2, 1980)
    1
    (August 9, 1980)
    1
    (August 16, 1980)
    2
    2
    4
    5
    10
    24
    38
    42
    49
    Ireland Chart Entry Date: [UNKNOWN]
    Peak of 1
    during a run of an unknown number of weeks on the chart
    Japan Original Confidence Inc. Chart Entry Date: [UNKNOWN]
    Peak of 22
    during a run of an unknown number of weeks on the chart
    New Zealand Top 50 Chart Entry Date: September 21, 1980
    29
    26
    8
    (October 5, 1980)
    11
    12
    23
    32
    35
    29
    Norway Top 10 Chart Entry Date: June 30, 1980
    6
    4
    2
    1
    (July 21, 1980)
    1
    (July 28, 1980)
    1
    (August 4, 1980)
    1
    (August 11, 1980)
    1
    (August 18, 1980)
    2
    2
    1
    (September 8, 1980)
    3
    4
    6
    Sweden Chart Entry Date: July 11, 1980
    Chart is based upon a bi-weekly cycle
    10
    8
    6
    6
    4
    5
    3
    (October 3, 1980)
    3
    (October 17, 1980)
    3
    (October 31, 1980)
    6
    10
    10
    Switzerland Top 15 Chart Entry Date: July 27, 1980
    14
    9
    3
    2
    (August 17, 1980)
    2
    (August 24, 1980)
    2
    (August 31, 1980)
    2
    (September 7, 1980)
    2
    (September 14, 1980)
    3
    5
    6
    8
    10
    13

    Releases

    Here are all the known USA and UK releases of the song:

    Xanadu (Standard Release)

    Xanadu (Demo)

    Drum Dreams Xanadu (Movie Version)

    Drum Dreams Xanadu (5.1 Mix Movie Version)

    Xanadu (Reprise Movie Version)

    Xanadu (5.1 Mix Reprise Movie Version)

    Xanadu (Closing Credits Version)

    Xanadu (5.1 Mix Closing Credits Version)

    Drum Dreams Xanadu (Xanadu Special Disco Sampler)

    Xanadu (New Version)

    Tours

    Xanadu has never been played on any ELO tour. It's unclear why ELO neglected the Xanadu album songs, but it's probably the case that the band didn't really consider the songs part of their regular catalog (instead they are simply a side project) and therefore not intended to be part of the live set as proper ELO songs. It may also be that with the negative feedback that the film received (despite the soundtrack success) the band elected to ignore the songs at their live shows. ELO offshoot, ELO Part II, played the song live several times with bassist Kelly Groucutt singing the lead vocals.

    Olivia Newton-John has performed the song live in her live sets from the early 1980s concerts and (after a long touring hiatus) from the late 1990s to current times. These performances are, of course, without ELO backing; instead she is backed by her regular touring band. The performance from Utah in 1982 was first broadcast as an HBO special in 1983. This was issued in the USA in 1993 on a VHS videotape (MCA 55124) entitled Olivia In Concert. An August 26, 1999 performance at Atlantic City, New Jersey was released on a CD (Festival D32259) and a DVD audio disc (DTS 9286-01080-9) entitled One Woman's Live Journey.

    Pictures

    UK gatefold cover 7-inch single (Jet JET 185) UK gatefold cover 7-inch single (Jet JET 185) UK alternate cover 7-inch single (Jet JET 185) UK promo issue 7-inch single (Jet JET 185) UK 10-inch single (Jet JET 10-185) UK Xanadu LP (Jet JET LX 526)
    UK 7" vinyl single (gatefold cover) * Jet * JET 185 UK 7" vinyl single (alternate cover) * Jet * JET 185 UK 7" vinyl single (promo issue) * Jet * JET 185 UK 10" vinyl single * Jet * JET 10-185 UK Xanadu album * Jet * JET LX 526
    USA Xanadu album * MCA * MCA 6100
    USA standard 7-inch single (MCA MCA-41285) USA promo 7-inch single (MCA MCA-41285) USA promo 10-inch picture disc (MCA MCA-10384) Argentina 7-inch promo single (Epic DEP-155) Australia 7-inch single (Jet JS 017)
    USA 7" vinyl single (standard issue) * MCA * MCA-41285 USA 7" vinyl single (promo issue) * MCA * MCA-41285 USA 10" picture disc * MCA * MCA-10384 Argentina vinyl single (promo issue) * Epic * DEP-155 Australia vinyl single * Jet * JS 017
    Belgium 7-inch single (? ?) [cover #1] Belgium 7-inch single (? ?) [cover #2] Brazil 7-inch single (Epic 22107) Canada 7-inch single (MCA MCA-41285) Canada 7-inch single (MCA MCA-41285) with alternate label
    Belgium vinyl single (cover #1) * ? * ? Belgium vinyl single (cover #2) * ? * ? Brazil vinyl promo EP * Epic * 22107 Canada 7" vinyl single * MCA * MCA-41285 Canada 7" vinyl single w/ alternate label * MCA * MCA-41285
    Chile vinyl single (Discos CBS 11381) Holland 7-inch single (Jet JET 185) Holland 7-inch single (Jet JET 185) Holland 12-inch single (Jet JET 12.185) Italy 7-inch single (Jet JET 185)
    Chile vinyl single * Discos CBS * 11381 France 7" vinyl single * Jet * JET 185 Holland 7" vinyl single * Jet * JET 185 Holland 12" vinyl single * Jet * JET 12.185 Italy 7" vinyl single * Jet * JET 185
    Italy 7-inch promo single (Jet JC 15027) Japan 7-inch single (Jet 07SP 488) Japan promo 7-inch single (Jet 07SP 488) Japan 12-inch promo single (Jet XDAP 93034(JT)) New Zealand 7-inch single (Jet ?)
    Italy 7" vinyl promo single * Jet * JC 15027 Japan 7" vinyl single (gatefold cover) * Jet * 07SP 488 Japan 7" promo vinyl single (gatefold cover) * Jet * 07SP 488 Japan 12" promo vinyl single * Jet * XDAP 93034(JT) New Zealand 7" vinyl single * Jet * ?
    Poland 7-inch flexidisc (Tanpress R-1068) Spain 7-inch single (Jet JET 185) Spain 7-inch promo single (Jet JET 185) USA VHS videotape (MCA 66019) USA Beta videotape (MCA 66019)
    Poland flexidisc (cover and disc) * Tanpress * R-1068 Spain 7" vinyl single * Jet * JET 185 Spain 7" vinyl promo single * Jet * JET 185 USA VHS videotape (MCA 66019) USA Beta videotape (MCA 66019)
    USA laserdisc (MCA DiscoVision 17-006) USA second issue VHS videotape (MCA/Universal 66019) USA DVD (Universal 20410) USA Magical Musical Edition DVD/CD (Universal 61103532)
    USA laserdisc (MCA DiscoVision 17-006) USA second issue VHS videotape (MCA/Universal 66019) USA DVD (Universal 20410) USA Magical Musical Edition DVD/CD (Universal 61103532)

    Cover Versions

    Use in Movies and TV Programs


    Sheet Music

       
    Sheet music (cover only) as published in the USA.

    Promotional Videos and TV Performances

    There was no promotional video or TV performances for Xanadu. Other than the film itself, the Making Of Xanadu TV special and some USA Midnight Special appearances by Olivia (where Xanadu was not performed), the song got very little promotion from either Olivia or Electric Light Orchestra. In addition, an August 7, 1980 episode of the BBC's Top Of The Pops featured film clips from the movie, some of which featured the song Xanadu.

    Fan Comments

    Enter comments only about this song. (Inappropriate comments will be removed.)


    Olivia's voice is one of the best of the age... to hear such angelic tones makes our modern days of auto-tune technology seem so pathetic. Listening to her sweetly and powerfully soar over the legendary ELO is surely a pinnacle in the musical experience of all time. This album carried me through many years, inspired me in my own musical explorations and continues to haunt my dreams, decades later. Thank you for your extensive work compiling this page!
    ~ Wes, Fairbanks, AK

    I remember watching john Davidson (usa tv personality) singing Xanadu on the john Davidson show. it was special because the background singers were very clear in the lyrics jeff sang. I didn't have a pen and forgot them. glad you wrote them down.

    Hi Robert,

    First off, your attention to detail blows me away. Incredible.

    Curious: isn't there, hidden away in some MCA vault or in Jeff Lynne's closet, more music that he recorded for the film, meant to be the soundtrack but scrapped by the Producers in favor of the Barry deVorzon stuff?

    You'd think that would be something worth listening to!
    -Carl


    Hello!!!

    I am from Chile and I saw a rerun episode of FRIENDS where chandler and Joey are watching XANADU on TV, then Pheobe enters and sparkingly
    identifies the movie.

    Exequiel, CHILE

    I am absolutely blown away by your research and analysis of the song! It reminds me of a Monograph that students or Professors do on an artist (Painter in both it's depth and scope.
    Congratulations on a magnificent piece of work!

    And a little off subject but still pertaining to the Soundtrack, John Lennon said that "Magic" was one of the best produced pop tracks he had ever heard! I'm glad he had the B____ to say what he really meant and not was in fashion!
    -Mark

    Artwork by Lynnette Johansson for Xanadu
    -Fan artwork by Lynnette "Cicky" Johansson

    Quotations

    Xanadu (Standard Release)
    "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."
    Unknown (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."
    Unknown (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 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)

    "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)

    "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)

    Xanadu (Demo)
    This track was used for 47 seconds on the Xanadu theatrical trailer, but a version a little longer than two minutes (possibly the full demo) was used as part of a 20 minute production reel that was shown as part of a two-day Xanadu convention (weekend of May 16, 1980) at Universal Studios to promote the movie and soundtrack to industry people, retailers, exhibitors and press. Unfortunately, this production reel split the Xanadu demo with the Fool Country demo, as was done in the film, so the second set of verses and some of the first chorus are missing. The demo (what is available) is the same basic arrangement as the final song, but in a much more primitive form and missing most of the backing vocals. It also features no strings whatsoever.

    This track was discovered on the Xanadu theatrical trailer, where a small portion of the song is available. It sounds as if it's a more "raw" version than the released version (on Xanadu soundtrack) although less "raw" than the early versions of Drum Dreams and I'm Alive also from the trailer. It has slightly different keyboard arrangements and a different vocal mix, most notable on the crescendo ending to the song. Unfortunately, the small portion of the song that is available on the Xanadu trailer is broken up right in the middle with an early version of ELO's Drum Dreams, is incomplete, and most annoying, has the trailer announcer talking throughout the song. It may be incomplete (only the last chorus and very end of the song), but it's all that's currently available of this unique track.

    Drum Dreams Xanadu (Movie Version)
    This version merges both the songs Drum Dreams and Xanadu into one full song. Drum Dreams runs from 0:00 to 3:22 and Xanadu runs from 3:22 to 6:36. Drum Dreams is extended from the officially released version (available on the I'm Alive single). The Xanadu portion of the song is the same as the released Xanadu soundtrack version except that it the very end, from the last "now that I'm here, now that you're near" to the end is a completely different take with an abrupt ending. This version of the song is performed in the finale of the film, just before Olivia Newton-John's character, Kira, breaks into the tap-dance/rock/country routine (and later back into another bit from Xanadu again.)

    "[The movie version of] Drum Dreams was extended and [the movie] also contained two different versions of Xanadu: A version which was like the released one, but with a 'different ending' and a 'Xanadu (String Re-Mix)' version."
    Patrik Guttenbacher, Marc Haines, & Alexander von Petersdorff (1996 Unexpected Messages)
    Editor's Note: The 'string re-mix' version mentioned refers to the reprise that is played after the Olivia Newton-John character does her tap-dance/rock/country routine.

    Drum Dreams Xanadu (5.1 Mix Movie Version)
    This version is the same as the movie version, but it is mixed to 5.1 audio.

    Xanadu (Reprise Movie Version)
    This is the part that plays at the very end of the film, just as Kira (played by Olivia Newton-John) finishes her tap-dance/rock/country routine and is raised on the dias, surrounded by dancers. It's only the last chorus to the very end of the song, but it is a completely different take and features Olivia singing in a grander, more regal style.

    "[The movie version of] Drum Dreams was extended and [the movie] also contained two different versions of Xanadu: A version which was like the released one, but with a 'different ending' and a 'Xanadu (String Re-Mix)' version."
    Patrik Guttenbacher, Marc Haines, & Alexander von Petersdorff (1996 Unexpected Messages)
    Editor's Note: The 'string re-mix' version mentioned refers to the reprise that is played after the Olivia Newton-John character does her tap-dance/rock/country routine.

    Xanadu (5.1 Mix Reprise Movie Version)
    This version is the same as the movie version, but it is mixed to 5.1 audio.

    Xanadu (Closing Credits Version)
    This version of the song plays over the closing credits of the film and immediately following the cast credits. It's an edit of the regularly released Xanadu soundtrack version, but is only the first verse and the final chorus. It also has a different and rather abrupt ending, the same as on Drum Dreams Xanadu (Movie Version).

    Xanadu (5.1 Mix Closing Credits Version)
    This version is the same as the movie version, but it is mixed to 5.1 audio.

    Drum Dreams Xanadu (Xanadu Special Disco Sampler)
    "In Japan Jet/CBS released a special promotional only 12 inch which included a track called: Drum Dreams Xanadu (Xanadu Special Disco Version), but it isn't the movie version, it's just putting the officially released versions of Drum Dreams and Xanadu together, like in the movie."
    Patrik Guttenbacher, Marc Haines, & Alexander von Petersdorff (1996 Unexpected Messages)

    Xanadu (New Version)
    "A song I wrote for the movie of the same name, sung brilliantly by Olivia Newton-John. I always liked the song, and fancied another go at it."
    Jeff Lynne (2000 - Flashback)

    "It's a whole new track, really. I re-recorded it because I always liked the song. I really liked Olivia Newton-John's version of it, but I fancied having a go at singing it. I like the chord structure. "
    Jeff Lynne (2001 - elomusic.com website)

    "ELO's Jeff Lynne, who had long distanced himself from the whole miserable [Xanadu] project, released Flashback, featuring his own performance of the infamous title track."
    Sarah Hepola (November 3, 2003 - The Morning News)

    "The track listing [for All Over The World: The Very Best Of Electric Light Orchestra] was also modified following Jeff's instructions and Showdown, Ma-Ma-Ma Belle, and Xanadu (Flashback version) [were] added."
    Rob Caiger (May 28, 2005 - Showdown mailing list)

    "[Xanadu was] originally written for the disastrous flop of a film by the same name, the re-recorded version of this dreamy tune benefits from the fact that all the vocals are handled by Lynne, rather than being shared with Olivia Newton-John."
    David Cheal (December 8, 2005 - The Daily Telegraph)

    This page is intended to be a complete record of information on the Olivia Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra song Xanadu (both versions). If you notice any errors or omissions, please contact me at elofan@juno.com and let me know. I strive for accuracy.

    Robert Porter
    September 2014


    Special thanks to Bob Coulter for his assistance in editing this document.
    Or, as I originally wrote it "spatial tanks 2 Bub Coalter four his his hlep. :)