The Best (and Worst) Numbers From Grease: Live!

Illustration for article titled The Best (and Worst) Numbers From Grease: Live!

The momentous occasion that was Grease: Live! has come and gone, but for those of you who didn’t get to experience it Live!, there’s still the magic of YouTube, which was most certainly not available in the 1950s.


Here’s my incredibly biased ranking of last night’s performances, excluding Jessie J’s “Grease Is the Word,” which is for some reason not available on YouTube. It was good, though!

The Worst

“Summer Nights” really set the tone for the production, making all of us fear what would soon became clear: that Aaron Tveit as Danny was definitely missing a sexy factor.

Written for this broadcast specifically, “All I Need Is an Angel” was deeply skippable, a clear play to give Carly Rae some solo singing time that did not pay off.

“Hopelessly Devoted to You” is one of the worst tracks from Grease (“Stranded at the Drive-In” beats it though; mysteriously, that’s another song they haven’t put on YouTube). While Julianne Hough’s performance was serviceable, moving the song to after the school dance meant a very sudden change in mood—though at least she wasn’t running a piece of paper around in a kiddie pool.

There’s nothing rock and roll about any of the Jonas brothers. Thank god there was dancing during this scene.

The Fine

Eh. This song is like “Hopelessly Devoted to You” part II.

“We Go Together” was impressive, mostly because of the camera work and choreography, but points must be taken away for the extraneous use of golf carts.

I loved Doody playing “Those Magic Changes” (which Danny just sort of sung quietly and danced with Sandy to in the movie) but I’ll admit it wasn’t exactly life-altering stuff. Cute though.

“Sandra Dee” really felt like it was missing some OOMPH, but it’s a fun number no matter what’s happening during it. Bonus points go to Jan, played by Kether Donohue of You’re the Worst, for being the secret best part of Grease: Live!

The Best

Keke Palmer, what a delight! Her version of Marty was less insecure teenage girl pretending to be older and more confident teen who’s ready to get outta high school. During this number, it was shown in full effect.

“You’re the One That I Want” was vocally impressive, though like most of the performances in Grease: Live!, it felt like the leads were performing a faint imitation of their movie predecessors. But Sandy’s pants make up for everything. (You’ll notice in this version, the sound isn’t synced up with their actions—not sure what happened during uploading, but it was fine live.)

Costume changes and overall energy propelled “Greased Lightnin’” past the lyric changes (“The chicks’ll cream” became “The chicks’ll scream”) into the fun category.

“There Are Worst Things I Could Do” is arguably one of the best songs from Grease (one that almost didn’t make it into the movie), made more impressive by Vanessa Hudgens’ loss of her father just a day before she had to perform it.

While “Beauty School Dropout” loses points for Carly Rae Jepsen’s bizarre facial expressions, Boys II Men obviously killed this number.

Contact the author at



My thoughts:

1) “Grease Lightning” and “Hand Jive” were amazingly choreographed and the energy was off the charts.

2) I thought Julianne Hough was hella flat on “Hopelessly Devoted” but I think that was due in large part to the fact that she was out of breath from dancing her ass off about 30 seconds before.

3) I was not feeling Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo. I think she tried, and I think her rendition of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” was fine, but I really wished that she and Keke Palmer had swapped roles.

4) Overall, I thought the camera work was extremely impressive, as were the lighting changes and set changes. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but live TV is never going to be perfect.

Anyway, I thought it was way better than anything NBC has done, except for The Wiz of course, which was awesome and is the live musical to beat IMO.