One On One – Olivia Newton-John “Physical” and Eric Prydz “Call On Me”

Is a fascination for Lycra, sweaty bodies and gyms all the videos “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John and “Call On Me” by Eric Prydz have in common, or is there a deeper hidden meaning: we explore.

Since the beginning of mankind (humankind?) we humans have been ogling each other. Much of art revolves around that. There are paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, social media sites and even a mix of all of those show how we look at other humans. Sometimes videos are discreet and try to have a story line around the gorgeous woman/man star of the video. Sometimes that plot line is a good one. Other times videos are abstract, surreal, “artistic” and we have no idea what is going on (we will one day try to deconstruct some of those jewels) and there are times where there are hidden meanings that miss our analysis. We are going to try to find out if this is the case for these two videos.

Physical – Olivia Newton-John


Call On Me – Eric Prydz


So what do these videos have in common?


1. Their use of Lycra


Also known as Spandex or elastane, this synthetic fiber is elastic, stronger and long lasting. It is because of this reason it has been used in apparel for decades now, and besides it is also great to show some curves.

Olivia Newton - John

2. Their choice of setting: A Gym

Gyms were not always the “cool place” they are no… no…gyms became trendy not so long ago. Of course gyms today are a way to socialize, stay fit and dance. They can also sometimes be a place to hook up with people. Some people joins gyms solely for that reason. Yes, sorry to burst your bubble on that.

3. A member of one sex surrounded by members of the opposite sex

Both pictures bellow need no clarification:

Call on Me - Eric Prydz

Now, this video shows us the singer surrounded by athletic men


OK, now that we have looked at the similarities, lets dig deeper on each song and video and see what we can find.

Call on Me – Eric Prydz

The song samples the 1982 record “Valerie” by Steve Winwood. Despite great commercial success for the song´s writers (Swedish DJ and Prydz) the song is remembered for its video. For some people (myself included) it is one of the most chauvinist, degrading to women and absurdly bad videos ever.  After watching all 2:52 minutes of this almost offensive video I can guarantee there is no hidden meaning. Women are basically meat and for this guy´s pleasure. The director Huse Monfardi wanted to remake this scene from the movie Perfect, with John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis. Why? WHY!!??? For other people (i.e. Australians – it is the most downloaded video in Australia ever) it became successful and on high demand. There is alos a work out DVD featuring the women of the video doing work out to different songs. All I can add is that I found this video by cancer patients which I thought was interesting.

Physical – Olivia Newton-John

Australian darling Olivia Newton-John recorded the song for her twelfth studio album. Nowadays we know that she did not want to release the video it is one of the most famous songs of the eighties. The song spend 10 weeks at No. 1 and was her biggest American hit and the biggest selling single of the decade in that country. Released in September 1981, the song was written by Steve Kipner and Terry Shaddick. The songs was first offered to Rod Stewart. I can see him doing it perfectly, after the hit he had in 1978 with Da Ya Think I´m Sexy. Before we look at the video, I do want to recommend the version of the video released in 2013 as part of a scene from the series Glee. Also, while I was researching for this article I found the acoustic version and I LOVE IT!

The director, Brian Grant, who had mainly done British TV shows wanted to make fun of the sexual lyrics: “There’s nothin’ left to talk about unless it’s horizontally.” The video features Olivia Newton-John trying to get several overweight men to lose weight as she is their gym instructor. She is not getting far until she decides to go and take a shower (with her leotards on) and comes back to discover once the men lose weight they leave in pairs, and the only man who did not lose weight turns out to be straight and they go of together to play tennis.


What is more offensive here? the hair band she is wearing? The black tiles on the gym which I can imagine “sweating” through the entire shot, at min 1:45 when she literally starts ridding on of the men like a rodeo bull, at 2:23 when there is an “air guitar” played with one of the stretching exercises or the insulting over weight men, implying that all fit men are gay or deciding to chose the last one available to play with his balls…regardless, there is much, much more meaning in this video than the other one we looked at, more controversy regarding the song and let´s face it, a damn good, catchy, unforgettable pop song.


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