The musical Grease came out in 1971 and follows the lives of ten working-class teens (set in the ’50s) as they navigate peer pressure, love, romance, and politics.
As you’re about to see, the Grease Soundtrack relies heavily on the early sounds of rock ‘n roll that will give you ‘the chills’ 🙂
Table of Contents
- Summer Nights
- Hopelessly Devoted to You
- You’re the One That I Want
- Beauty School Dropout
- Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee
- Greased Lightnin’
- It’s Raining on Prom Night
- Alone At a Drive In Movie
- Blue Moon
- Rock N Roll is Here to Stay
- Those Magic Changes
- Hound Dog
- Born to Hand Jive
- Tears on My Pillow
- Freddy My Love
- Rock N Roll Party Queen
- There are Worse Things I Can Do
- We Go Together
- Love is a Many-Splendored Thing
Written for Grease the musical, the song of the same name came from Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees. It was recorded not by cast members from the film score but by Frankie Valli, a popular singer of the time. Barry Gibb wrote the song and wanted Valli’s voice for the film’s title track, though the song doesn’t appear in most stage versions of the script. The song doesn’t reference anything from the movie, but it’s a great, fun song with a uniquely transcendental bridge: “This is the life of illusion. Wrapped up in trouble, laced with confusion. What are we doing here?”
While the greasers hang out at school on the bleachers, just after school starts up again, the gals hang out, and everybody asks, “What happened this summer?” Sandy, the female lead (played by Olivia Newton-John in the film), and Danny Zuko (played by John Travolta in the film) tell their friends about their ‘Summer Nights’ and the romance they experienced as the season rolled past. The song bounces between the two perspectives, with some cross-over moments as a uniquely staged duet.
Related: Check out these cool summer songs.
Hopelessly Devoted to You
Not a part of the original score of the stage production of Grease, ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ was actually written specifically as a solo for Olivia Newton-John to sing as she contracted solo number in the film version of the script. Halfway through the shoot, producer John Farrar created the song. A whole new scene was created for the song (as the director, Randal Kleiser, didn’t feel the song fit as is). The song was actually the film’s only Oscar nomination – for Best Music, Original Song. The melodic tune is a soft breakup song from Sandy, the female lead of Grease. “But now there’s no way to hide since you pushed my love aside—I’m outta my head, hopelessly devoted to you.”
Related: Find this song on our playlist of good karaoke songs for girls.
You’re the One That I Want
“I can’t believe it! Danny Zuko turned jock?” The setup for this punchy little number brings into question the peer pressures kids face in high school. Danny, the “head” of the greasers’ squad at his school, pops up at school one day decked out in a letter sweater and ready to give up his old ways to keep Sandy a part of his life. The guys, however, aren’t so convinced. But the couple knows what they want: each other. Perhaps the most iconic look in the whole film, Sandy shows up in a slick black leather pants outfit and sings along with Danny. “You’re the one that I want (you are the one I want). Ooh, ooh, ooh, honey, the one I need (the one I need). Oh, yes indeed (yes, indeed)!”
Written for the film, not the stage play, ‘Sandy’ is sung by Danny Zuko as he laments his advances toward Sandy, which she rejected and pushed away on. Being a part of the T-Birds (the greaser gang) means Danny can’t be in a relationship with Sandy, but Danny regrets that stipulation. The song is his love-sick 1970s-style ballad singing his regrets. “Sandy, my darlin’, you hurt me real bad. You know it’s true. But, baby, you gotta believe me when I say I’m helpless without you.”
Related: Listen to more great songs for forbidden love.
Beauty School Dropout
Sung by Frankie Avalon, ‘Beauty School Dropout’ is a sweet showcase piece of the Teen Angel, a phantom teen idol character in Grease. The character’s only appearance is in this scene when Frenchy’s guardian angel sings this song over her recent dropping out of beauty school. She’s frustrated with her teachers – but her angel lets her know she needs to improve her work ethic and go back to high school.
Related: School’s in session with our list of the best songs about school.
Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee
A song about innocence, ‘Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee’ is sung by Betty Rizzo at a sleepover for the girls, making fun of Sandy. The song references “sweetness” icons or “goody-two-shoes” of the era of the musical. Sandra Dee and Doris Day—both big stars of the time—are known as innocents. The song also references Annette (Funicello), Troy Donahue, Rock Hudson, and Elvis, other big stars known for being “hot” and considered “less innocent.”
Boys and their cars – you’ll hear about it in ‘Greased Lightnin” when Danny and the other T-birds sing about their wheels as they work on the car in the highly-stylized garage. The car they’re working on is Danny’s (Kenickie in the original stage script) new ride, a purchase made from his summer job and saving up. It’s not in the best shape, so the T-birds are skeptical, but they’ve won over with the idea of modifications and transformation.
Related: This song features on our playlist of the best songs about lightning.
It’s Raining on Prom Night
Sung by Cindy Bullens in Grease, ‘It’s Raining On Prom Night’ is the jukebox song playing in the diner (faintly) when Sandy, Tom, and Danny hang out at the Malt Shop Diner. So, though not the typical part of the score, the song is a nostalgic piece about the woes of high school days and disappointments. “I was deprived of a young girl’s dream by the cruel force of nature from the blue. Instead of a night full of romance supreme, all I got was a runny nose and Asiatic flu. It’s raining on prom night; my hair is a mess. It’s running all over my taffeta dress.”
Related: If the clouds are grey, get cozy with our list of the best rainy day songs.
Alone At a Drive In Movie
Though it doesn’t appear in the film as a lyrical number, ‘Alone at a Drive-In Movie’ was in Grease’s original musical stage production score. In the film, the song ‘Sandy’ takes the song’s place in the story—another lonely song sung by Danny Zuko. The original lyrics bemoan missing Sandy and feeling lonely as he watches a drive-in movie without her, thanks to their recent friction. “I’m all alone at the drive-in movie. It’s a feelin’ that ain’t too groovy, watchin’ werewolves without you…. Gee, it’s no fun drinkin’ beer in the backseat all alone, just ain’t too neat….”
Related: Are you alone? Head over to our list of lonely songs.
The song ‘Blue Moon’ wasn’t written for Grease but was written in the 1930s by the famous musical theater composing duo Rogers and Hart. The song is used in Grease at the National Dance-Off, sung by Johnny Casino and the Gamblers (in real life, Danny & the Juniors, a doo-wop band). The popular song is thought to be the first instance of 50s progression in a pop song.
Related: Gaze at the moon with our list of moon songs.
Rock N Roll is Here to Stay
‘Rock ‘n Roll is Here to Stay’ has a classic rock vibe right out of the 1950s. Ironically, Danny (White) and Juniors were a doo-wop band, not a rock band, but they still sing the song for the track Grease, with all the classic rock vibe you could ask for. In Grease, the band goes by the name Johnny Casino and the Gamblers and plays out at the National Dance-Off as Danny and Sandy dance together.
Those Magic Changes
A doo-wop song from Grease, ‘Those Magic Changes’ is actually a song about music. The changes refer not to life changes (directly, at least!), but rather to the Doo-Wop era music that generally trod the same harmonic path repeatedly from song to song. That is, the chord progression of the songs, which is one of the most prominent trademarks of the particular music genre. As the song begins in the film rendition, the cast chants rhythmically about the chords “C, A, D, and G. These are the roots of the chords.”
Related: You’ll be enchanted with this playlist of magic songs.
‘Hound Dog’ is likely familiar to you, at least if you enjoy classic rock. Yes—it’s that one made famous by Elvis Presley. The song is performed during the National Dance-Off competition during Grease. The song was written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller and originally recorded in 1952, but Elvis got ahold of the twelve-bar blues song and helped it achieve its incredible status. The song has actually been recorded more than 250 times and ranks as one of the top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004).
Related: See this classic on our list of the best dog songs.
Born to Hand Jive
Today, we have danced like the “Funky Chicken” and “Electric Slide” that everybody knows, but back in the day, the Hand Jive was the song everybody would know if it popped up at a dance or social event. In Grease, the song of the same name is performed by Johnny Casino and Gamblers during the dance contest. The fun song talks about cows and plows and chopping wood—a throwback to the farming community the original musicians would have come from.
Tears on My Pillow
‘Tears on My Pillow’ is performed by the fictional band Johnny Casino (Sha Na Na) at the big dance competition in Grease, which makes up much of the musical setting for the film version of the musical. The song was originally recorded by Little Anthony & The Imperials as their first and best-selling single. The original song uses some of the same backing tracks as the Penguins’ ‘Earth Angel’ to help save the record company some money.
Related: Add more tears to your pillow with our playlist of songs about crying.
A song about longing, ‘Mooning’ is all about those lonely nights when you miss that special someone. In the film version of Grease, Louis St. Louis and Cindy Bullens duet it up on this evocative song. “Oh, I’m so full of love, as any fool can see. ‘Cause ages up above have hung the moon on me.”
Related: Head over to our list of the best songs about missing somebody.
Freddy My Love
You might not realize it when you first listen, but ‘Freddy My Love’ is actually a song about early feminism—women being their own person and capable of whatever they put their minds to. The song, too, is about the special brand of the materialism of the 1950s (according to music writer Ronnie Spector). The idea that gifts are the only valid expression of love can be heard through lyrics like “Hearing from you can make the day so much better. Getting a souvenir or maybe a letter—I really flipped over the great cashmere sweater. Freddy, you know, your absence makes me feel so blue. That’s okay, though. Your presents make me think of you.”
Related: Need an ego boost? You’ll love this list of the best confidence songs.
Rock N Roll Party Queen
In early rock ‘n roll style, ‘Rock ‘N Roll Party Queen’ is a fun, upbeat dance with a mellow lyrical and melodic line. The song is full of vocalizations like “Ba-ba-ba-bum” and la las – blending it right into the music of the era of the musical, Grease. The song is a request for a dance – from the singer to “Mary Jean” – depending on which version you hear.
There are Worse Things I Can Do
Sung by Rizzo, the song is a reflection of the alpha female leader of the Pink Ladies (Rizzo’s sort of gang of girls) – taking place at the climax of the storyline. She looks inside, wondering if she’s messed up her life or if there really are “worse” things she could have done than have a good time with a boy. Rumors spread around Rydell, of course, and depending on which version you watch, Rizzo’s either directing the song to Sandy or just out of earshot of head cheerleader Patty Simcox who sneered at Rizzo before the song begins.
We Go Together
A goofy, fun love song, ‘We Go Together’ is sung by the cast at the carnival as Sandy and Danny realized they really do belong together. The silly, sweet song is full of nonsensical lyrics and vocalizations – coupled with a catchy rhythm and harmonies. It’s the perfect happy ending sort of song to celebrate love, life, and fun as the couple embark into the world together.
Related: If you found your true love, you’ll like these songs about real love.
Love is a Many-Splendored Thing
A popular song written by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster, ‘Love is a Many-Splendored Thing’ first became known thanks to the film of the same name that came out in 1955. The song won an Academy Award for the Best Original Song – and became the theme song for a Soap Opera of the same name (based on the film). The refrain is actually based on an aria from Giacomo Puccini’s opera, Madama Butterfly. The song appears in Grease in the opening beach scene, when Sandy and Danny share a sweet summer romance.
Related: You’ll want to hear more of the best songs with love in the title.