Grease 2 gets a bad rap. People shit on it because it’s “so inferior to the original” and “awful in every way imaginable,” and… okay… sure… if you hold it up to conventional standards, Grease 2 is definitely going to be found sorely lacking in, among other things, overall quality. HOWEVER… if you choose to look at Grease 2 like I do, as a very colorful, peppy multi-car pile-up where nobody gets out alive… then you will start to come around to the fact that Grease 2 is actually a strange blend of madness, camp, good intentions, and sexual metaphors that deserves your attention. Your DRUNKEN attention… don’t try to watch Grease 2 sober, you guys, seriously. Grease 2 only fully blossoms when the viewer is hammered. Sorry… should have mentioned that up top. Nonetheless, it’s true… Grease 2 is an underrated movie. A hidden gem, if you will, provided your bar for the phrase “hidden gem” is firmly locked into the lowest setting.
Now, having outed myself as a Grease 2 apologist, I feel like I should also admit up front that the only thing I really like about the movie is the songs. The script, the acting, the way that everything kind of looks cheap and flat… yeah, it’s all pretty bad. BUT THE SONGS. Some of them are top-notch! And soooo bizarre. I can only imagine the breathtaking majesty of the mountain of cocaine that was required to come up with some of these production numbers. They are, mostly, truly entertaining. So… as a way to honor Grease 2… and to maybe get some other people to watch it, so I’m not like the ONE person holding down the Grease 2 table in the Great Hall of Fan Enthusiasms… let us now take a hard look at the songs from Grease 2, ranking them from worst to best, and reveling in their weird-ass glory.
A Definitive Ranking of Every Song From Grease 2
12. Who’s That Guy – In a movie that has its share of dead spots, this is the deadest. When a mysterious motorcycle guy appears on the scene (SPOILER ALERT: it’s a plot contrivance!), the entire cast sings a song wondering… hey… who’s that guy? That’s it. That’s the sum total of the song. Its reason for existing in Grease 2 is so that we, the viewers, will understand that the characters on-screen would like to know who that guy is that just showed up. Pointless! And also poorly constructed as a set-piece! During the song, the mysterious motorcycle guy does a bunch of tricks and stunts on his motorcycle to embarrass a gang of thugs, and also to evade the police. Grease 2, it seems, did NOT have the budget for a motorcycle stuntman of any real caliber, so the tricks and stunts are massively awkward, slow, and about as awe-inspiring as a Boy Scouts pinewood derby.
11. Charades – Technically, THIS is the worst song in the movie. It’s drippy, poorly sung, and there’s so much reverb added to actor Maxwell Caulfield’s voice that it’s hard to understand exactly what he’s droning on about. However, Maxwell Caulfield… though a few quarts low in the charisma department in Grease 2… is the same actor that plays everybody’s favorite rock n’ roll lady-killer, Rex Manning, in Empire Records. Nothing involving Sexy Rexy can ever be the worst… so “Charades” gets a bump up the list by default.
10. Rock-a-Hula Luau – This song is so unnecessary to the plot of Grease 2, I couldn’t even find a clip of the production number on YouTube. Think about all the garbage that’s on YouTube. There’s a whole galaxy of useless crap on there, yet “Rock-a-Hula Luau” doesn’t make the cut. That’s pretty sad. Anyway, this song’s sole purpose is to establish that the characters are at a Luau. And, hey, it does establish that pretty thoroughly! Essentially, the song goes: “We’re at a luau, hey look… we’re at a luau. Do you understand where the characters are at? A luau!” And then there’s some vaguely racist stereotyping of Hawaiians. Good fun, though… again… totally unnecessary.
9. We’ll Be Together – By the time this song rolls around, I’m usually pretty drunk… so… I don’t have any specific memories of it being awful, or wonderful, or anything at all. My guess: It explains that all the characters will be together, giving us, the viewers, peace of mind that everything’s going to be okay once the credits roll. That’s very thoughtful of the Grease 2 creators, thinking of our needs like that.
8. Love Will Turn Back The Hands Of Time – Michelle Pfeiffer’s second big solo number (we’ll get to the first one in a minute), “Love Will Turn Back the Hands of Time” is a ballad that her character sings after she thinks that her mysterious motorcycle lover guy is dead. It’s kind of a whatever song, but it’s elevated by a fantasy sequence that takes place in MOTORCYCLE HEAVEN, which I have put in all-caps to denote my enjoyment of such a stupid concept. Said mysterious motorcycle lover guy appears on a pile of crashed, white motorcycles in a shiny, silver version of his bad-ass biker ensemble, and then they dance around in the output of a whole fleet of fog machines. It’s very silly, but it’s played SO straight-faced. MOTORCYCLE HEAVEN IS REAL, YOU GUYS, STOP LAUGHING.
7. Back To School Again – The big opening number! And, for an opening number, it’s kind of… I don’t know… unfocused, I guess? I mean, there’s certainly a lot going on. Everyone in the cast is involved, plus SO MANY EXTRAS. The “Back to School Again” ensemble makes the Helms Deep battle from Lord of the Rings look like several guys hitting each other with pillows. The entire high school population is out there shaking their butts, sometimes together… sometimes not… sometimes in big groups… sometimes in smaller groups. Everyone is just kind of everywhere doing their own thing, and the overall effect is sort of like a very rhythmic rush hour at Grand Central Station. Also, the song is sung by The Four Tops, who are not at any point on screen during this number. So all the teenagers are just dancing around to disembodied voices, which breaks like eleven rules of the Cinematic Musicals Universe. Not a great way to start things off, Grease 2… ah, but you’ve always been an outlier. Doing things your own way. Rascal.
WARNING: From here on out, the songs get extremely catchy. ZFS is not responsible for whatever tune gets stuck in your head like an errant lawn dart. Proceed with caution.
6. Girl For All Seasons – This is the song that the Pink Ladies, a girl gang, sing at Rydell High’s talent show. In the world of Grease 2, the annual talent show is the Super Bowl, or at the very least, the Nathan’s 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest. It’s a BIG DEAL, mainly because the grand prize is “100 long-play records.” Which I guess is something to get excited about? Man, the 60’s seem like bummer. Anyway, “Girl For All Seasons” is a perfectly fine song… pretty, pleasantly melodic… plus, the girls dress up in some wacky outfits to denote the different months of each season. One has a giant catcher’s mitt on her head. Another is dressed up like some kind of weird, George Washington/quarter thing that looks the the result of a Seth Brundle telepod mishap. It’s all very strange, particularly when you consider that these are supposed to be teenagers, yet they have the costuming and makeup budget of an Off-Broadway production.
5. Cool Rider – This is Michelle Pfeiffer’s big, showstopping solo number. It is about her desire for a “cool rider,” which sounds like a very unpleasant sexual maneuver involving Icy Hot, but is actually just a dude with a motorcycle. The song itself is catchy enough, but it’s made that much better by Pfeiffer, who totally commits to the cause. You are TOTALLY on board with her needing a cool rider in her life. Look at how she climbs, then straddles that really tall ladder like it’s a motorcycle! BOLD ACTING CHOICES. The best part of the song, however, is the ending. As “Cool Rider” fades out, Pfeiffer dances off into the middle distance, still quite involved in selling us this number, as everyone else just goes about their business while totally ignoring the fact that a crazy person is currently boogieing across the quad to a song that is presumably in her own head. Or maybe they CAN hear the song, and are just totally over it. “Oh hey it’s that girl who’s super into Cool Riders. What’s that again? A sex thing involving sno-cones and a BMX bike? I wish she’d stop singing already; we’re trying to have outdoor study hall over here!”
4. Prowlin’ – This would be the T-Birds entry into the Rydell High talent show. The T-Birds, by the way, are the male equivalent of the Pink Ladies, i.e. what passes for a gang in the early 60’s. They are, to say the least, about as a threatening as a kitten licking a marshmallow, which would be fine… I don’t look to movie musicals for gritty street gang realism much like I don’t look to Boys N The Hood for jazzy tap numbers… if they weren’t posited throughout the entirety of the movie as the baddest motherfuckers on the planet. The T-Birds make the Jets and the Sharks from West Side Story look like the Ching-a-Ling Nomads, but whatever. As for their big song… “Prowlin'” could easily be filler for a Brian Setzer Orchestra album, plus there’s some nifty shadow work towards the end. A respectable theatrical effort from such tough-as-nails bikers.
3. Score Tonight – This song is about bowling, but it’s REALLY about fucking. They’re gonna score tonight! GET IT. “Score” means “fucking.” Anyway, this is where Grease 2 moves into Aggressively Cheesy territory. “Score Tonight” basically beats the shit out of you, the viewer, with a cinder block forged from pure, uncut campiness, and yet it’s all palatable because the cast is SUPER into it. I don’t know if they all really believed they were crafting the next, great Hollywood musical, or if they’re all just like Daniel Day Lewis-levels of committed to their performances but… yeah… I believe that THEY believe that they’re going to bowl/fuck the ever-loving shit out of tonight. Oh, and a special nod here to Lorna Luft as Paulette… she gets to sing like six lines in the whole movie by herself, but she sings each one of those six lines like Ethel Fucking Merman as Mama Rose. You go, girl! NO SMALL PARTS!!!
2. Do It For Our Country – Easily the best song ever written about a guy using nuclear war as a method of getting into a girl’s pants. Seriously though, this song is greatness. It’s clever, funny, and just generally working on a higher level than the rest of the movie. It really does feel like “Do It For Our Country” time-warped in from a better, more cohesive musical, and I feel like if that musical actually existed, it would be my favorite musical of all time. Instead, we have this perfect castoff of a song… one excellent musical number in a movie that most of the time tops out at mediocre. So why is it on the list at number 2? Because number 1 is…
1. Reproduction – Is “Reproduction” the absolute best song in Grease 2? No. But it secures the number one spot because “Reproduction” IS Grease 2. It is its essence, boiled down into one extremely silly, radioactively catchy, bad-idea of a song that is made excellent by a game cast with zero sense of shame. Look, this is another song about fucking, and it’s essentially just one long lyrical string of sex jokes and innuendos. On paper, this is the stupidest song ever written outside of “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo.” But when the full-force commitment of the Grease 2 ensemble is put behind it, “Reproduction” just… works. It REALLY works. For a few giddy minutes, you forget that you’re watching a pretty terrible movie. That’s all you can ask for from a musical number in this context. And having us forget that we’re watching something awful because of something SO GREAT… that’s all that Grease 2 can ask of us.