We have Muzak at work, constantly piping music into The Store. I usually don’t pay a great deal of attention to it, though I do rather like our current “classic rock/hits of the 70s and 80s” mix that we have going on. I never thought that I’d hear “Come On Eileen”, the official pop anthem of overalls-wearers like myself, on a daily basis, but there it is.
Yesterday, though, I had to stop and listen, because it was a song I hadn’t heard in many years. I’m still stunned that this song turned up on our Muzak mix. It’s never, to my knowledge, been a hit. It comes from one of the goofiest musical movies ever made: Xanadu, which was supposed to be a big star vehicle for Olivia Newton John. Somehow, when they made this movie–about a roller-disco dance club called Xanadu–they managed to entice Gene Kelly to appear in it. I remember reading later that Kelly was disillusioned by the production and the filmmakers’ lack of knowledge of what went into making musicals; I suspect that Kelly, who was in his late 60s at the time, was hoping for a throwback to his beloved genre. Alas.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever watched Xanadu all the way through, but I suspect that nowadays it would inhabit the same kind of space as flicks like Battle Beyond the Stars: movies that aren’t really good, but are better than their reputations for being bad. I know that Xanadu has become a kind of cult classic, and that the soundtrack (which included ELO, one of my favorite bands and a major source of listening in recent years) produced some well-known songs that were huge hits on the European charts. But even so, I don’t recall the title song ever getting much by way of airplay at all…and yet, there it was, playing away in a retail grocery store in 2022. What a world.
Here’s the movie’s last number. The actual Olivia Newton John song starts about 3:30 in this video, but those first three minutes are worth watching just for the sheer goofiness of it all. Enjoy!