This weekend, we decided to pit Grease and Grease 2 in a duel and judge each song individually – free of bias, emotional attachments and story and character development.
This was not an easy task. After repeated childhood viewings of Grease 2, my friends and I knew every single word and every single dance move. I was a Pink Lady (and possibly still am at heart). Michelle Pfeiffer was one of my heroes. Our obsession led us in fourth grade to be called into the office of Ms. America Novas, our very big and intimidating elementary school principal whose asthma spread across the loudspeakers every morning during assembly, for a lecture about the fact that “gangs” would not be tolerated in our Catholic school.
This didn’t mean that we ignored the original. It just didn’t connect on a meaningful level – Olivia was no Michelle and never would be. Believe me, I know these are controversial opinions – that Grease is held in incredibly high esteem and most people blow off the sequel as a joke. In fact, that very difference of opinion resulted in this song off.
The results are below and averaged from a careful analysis by a male Grease fanatic and, well, me!
This is like being asleep at the wheel. Not a great way to kick off the movie, and, in retrospect, probably one of the reasons Grease has always been judged inferior by my “gang” (as a fellow member recently said).
Summer Nights: A
A fun-filled he said/she said with humor and heart. It pulls an A for the ending itself – John Travolta’s dramatic sigh (“but…’oh”). Just, please, accept that this song is a karaoke killer.
Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee: B
A quick and funny ditty proving that girls can bite, too. Stockard Channing shows off her ballsiness with a badge. Still, this feels more like an interlude than a full number and because of that fades away.
Hopelessly Devoted: A+
Agreed to be the King of All Grease Songs and, really, the only one that can stand alone – melodically and lyrically – apart from the musical. If we’d heard this song on the radio and never seen the movie, it’d still be a hit. I dare you to listen to this once and not get it stuck in your head for days to come.
Greased Lightnin’: B-
You think you like this song but you really don’t. The words are too fast and Travolta’s voice too deep. No wonder I don’t know (or care about) half the lyrics.
Beauty School Dropout: C+
Our initial reaction was to fail this one because …who ever cared about Frenchie? Yet, we both had to admit that it is a decent tune that we’d love to listen to on vinyl. Still, the questionable intro and outro chain it to mediocrity.
Our notes refer to the “explosive chorus” and the Beach Boys-reminiscent castanets. Travolta’s voice is much better suited to this pace.
There are Worse Things I Could Do: B+
Again, we both cringed when this one started and then realized this is a solid 50s girl power ballad and a starring vehicle for Channing. I want to hug and high five her after this performance, which is the perfect length and has the perfect flow. Someone should cover this (Kelly Clarkson? Lady GaGa?) and give it new life.
You’re the One That I Want: A
Not only catchy, but powerful, fun and sporting great harmonies. Raise your hand if you’ve tried to master the little hand-in-the-pocket shimmy when they walk down the stairs.
We Go Together: A-
This is a party I want to be invited to! A rambunctious way to end the movie and a surprising follow up to You’re the One that I want; instead of winding down, the movie ramps up and you speed off the cliff into the sunset.
Back to School Again: B-
The energy of this opener kicks Grease to shame and it does a great job of introducing all the major players and personalities. Still, the song suffers from overindulgence.
Score Tonight: A-
This is a Latin-rhythm infused good time with a killer breakdown – “You bowl me over!” Here, you notice what a superior singer Lorna Luft is compared to her peers and can’t help but chuckle at Adrian Zmed’s screeching, over-the-top, on-his-knees howl.
Cool Rider: A-
Pfieffer achieves total coolness in her black-outfitted, solo performance. If just one more voice was introduced it wouldn’t have worked as well – a rare moment of subtlety for the sequel.
Grease 2s version of the he said/she said with the raunch factor turned up. Could have been cut short in both length and number of vocal parts, but the bass turnaround point (“Where does the pollen go?”) is a good one.
Who’s That Guy: C
The chorus far outshines the verses here. The Cycle Lords’ group singing is laughable and, again, there are just too many vocals that suffer even more from awkward transitions.
Let’s Do It for our Country: A-
This cohesive and catchy tune would have been doomed by second character indifference if it weren’t for this face off. What we uncovered was a great melody that overcomes the silly lyrics and plot. Please, keep an open mind.
While it’s nice to have a little bit of Rock & Roll representation, the verses are too weighed down. This sounds like stomping your feet in mud.
This could have (should have?) been sung by Jack Wagner. It seems like the producers weren’t even sold since the song just sort of sneaks into the scene as if wasn’t welcome to begin with. Super boring, cheesy and out of place.
Girl for All Seasons: A-
This is probably the most fluid of the Grease 2 offerings and a great example of how various vocal parts can work when done right. But, damn the producers for cutting it off with…
Turn Back the Hands of Time: C+
Sorry, this is just too much cheesiness for one song to bear.
It’s like the producers decided to rip off and split off Grease’s We Go Together. The first part is this Luau, which just begs you to hand jive and drink a daiquiri.
We’ll Be Together: B-
Part II is the weaker rip off. It starts off strong, but should never have slipped into secondary character territory. The lyrics are embarrassing: “I like what you got. I guess it’s ok, if you want to show it.” Or: “Will I ever score? There’s nothing wrong with just liking each other.” And the electric guitar is cringe worthy.
RESULTS: GREASE (B+ ; 3.2); GREASE 2 (B; 2.9)
Yes, it pains me to write that.
Posted by: Mariela (with help from David)