I must confess that this is not my idea; having recently come across Tom Breihan’s ‘The Number Ones’ column for Stereogum, and in turn, Tom Ewing’s ‘Popular’ column for Freaky Trigger, I felt inspired to approach the format from my own geographical perspective; that is, review every single to reach number 1 on the ARIA Charts/Kent Report, and assign a numerical grade from 1-10. In the interest of brevity (and some pertinence), the column shall begin from July 1974, the date in which the initial Kent Report was first published commercially, and work forwards from there. Dependent upon time constraints and general interest, publishing of these articles will, similar to Ewing and Breihan’s columns, be daily. And now…
18 November – 9 December 1974 (4 Weeks)
It’s possible that “I Honestly Love You” invented the tired cinematic trope of the ironic soundtrack choice. When it appears in Jaws, Alex and his dog disappear; all the while, Olivia Newton John hums on the radio, soft, lulling, delicate, and unassuming. The song was barely a year old at the time, but its subverted and mismatched application makes it feel as if were always somewhere there, tucked away in the scenery.
In part, that’s because this is the 1970s, and this is Peter Allen, so the nostalgia felt is integral to the composition. Heard as it were, it’s a plainly inoffensive and lilting performance from John, who, removed from Grease (or John Farnham, for that matter), does not sound as cloying, or as overtly insincere or cynical as some later material has played at. No, “I Honestly Love You” is honestly lovely, and though she would go on to have bigger hits—“Please Mr. Please,” “Something Better to Do”—this is arguably John at her most placid, pacifying, and parent-pleasing best. 6.