“I Honestly Love You” by Olivia Newton-John

This was the first of Olivia Newton-John’s three signature Pop hits, and while it is not entirely undeserving of its extreme negative reputation, it’s still less terrible than the other two songs in that category, “Have You Never Been Mellow?” and “Physical”. It’s actually possible to make this song work…it was written by famed songwriter Peter Allen, and the musical based on his life and works, The Boy From Oz, manages to make very effective use of it. In the show, it’s given to Peter’s lover Greg after his death from AIDS, singing to Peter from the great beyond, and in this context the song comes across as genuinely touching. Unfortunately, the song itself is so simplistically written, with a lyric consisting entirely of cliches, and so overwhelmingly syrupy in its emotional content, that heard on its own as a standalone Pop tune, it just sounds inane. And Newton-John’s notorious lack of acting ability comes into play here as well: while Jerrod Emick in The Boy From Oz performed the song with quiet, understated sincerity, Olivia’s attempt to do the same thing here is so clumsy and blatantly artificial that the results are cringe-inducing.

Verdict: While this song can be made to work, the Newton-John Pop version that it is most known for is just as bad as everyone says.

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