For my second entry of songs better left unsung, I submit Olivia Newton-John’s “Heart Attack.” Following the double-platinum success of Physical, whose title song stayed atop the Billboard Hot 100 for a then-record 10 weeks, Newton-John released her second greatest-hits collection in September 1982.
The set featured two new singles, “Heart Attack” and “Tied Up (In Promises).” The former was issued first, hitting #3 (the latter stalled at #38). Now I know that songs are often based on analogies, but a heart attack? Barring immediate medical intervention, doesn’t that bring an abrupt close to any burgeoning love connection? Plus, the backing track for “Heart Attack” is pretty lightweight for a song drawing comparison to a major cardiac event.
I remember liking “Heart Attack” enough to add it to my want list, but I never bought the 45. It wasn’t until last year, when I purchased Olivia Newton-John’s import-only The Definitive Collection, and skipped to track 13 for “Heart Attack.” Listening to the song 25 years later offered a new perspective. That’s some “bad-’80s” right there — not the good kind of bad, the horribly wrong kind.
The video for “Heart Attack” is even worse, featuring a creepy kid, a giant bamboo cage, and a frozen Newton-John:
And while I can recover from liking “Heart Attack” (I was only 10 at the time), I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive Olivia Newton-John for covering George Harrison’s “What Is Life.”
Purchase Olivia Newton-John – “Heart Attack” via iTunes, Amazon MP3.