I think the case can be made the post-Grease Olivia Newton John, a lyric coloratura soprano with a 3.5 octave range, was an architect for the 80s – 90s Madonna-led dance/pop diva genre. Besides Disco Queen Donna Summer, no mainstream female artist was doing pop with such provocative overtones in the late 70s/early 80s.
Even though the four-time Grammy award winner didn’t venture too far into R&B like the pop songstresses who followed her, à la Sheena Easton (imagine if Prince had become Olivia’s producer!), her character at the end of Grease, and the music she did afterwards, seems to have had a major influence on everyone from Madonna to Britney Spears (who was at one time rumored to be up the role of ‘Sandy’s’ daughter in a Grease sequel!)
Hard to believe Olivia started as a country crossover singer. If you want to hear her evolution, check out her GOLD collection on Spotify.
Olivia – Closing number in Grease – 1978
Olivia – 1979