Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue Christmas photo

TrackAlbum
Confide In MeKylie Minogue
SurrenderKylie Minogue
If I Was Your LoverKylie Minogue
BreatheImpossible Princess
DrunkImpossible Princess
Spinning AroundLight Years
More More MoreFever
Can't Get You Out Of My HeadFever
Burning UpFever
SlowBody Language

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Contributor: Keith Shackleton

“But, Pete, whatever it is we’re doing, it’s just not working any more, is it?”

“Oh, come on, you’re just tired. Let’s sit down over here and look at …”

“Of course I’m fucking tired, I have to fly halfway around the world, and to do what? The same old songs. Get them down and bang it out and then off on the treadmill again, smiling, smiling, always bloody smiling …”

“But you’re still getting the gongs, love, aren’t you? People are still buying. They love it.”

“Crap. Maybe in Australia, Pete. I’ll give you that. Because they see me on television every day. They think I’m a part of their lives. They think I live next door. And gold records now, in case you hadn’t noticed. But that’s not it, you’re not listening to me. I’m not that person any more, the chick with the hair and the stupid dungarees. I never was that person. We pulled the wool over their eyes, Pete.”

“It’s you, girl, you pulled it off, you’re smart and honest and … well, people trust you and … they do, they love it.”

“I’m a package, all wrapped up in a box with a fucking red ribbon on it, and you know it. I “pulled it off”. Jesus, you’re still trying to put me in the same box!”

“It’s Michael, isn’t it, what’s he been saying to you?”

“It is not fucking Michael, listen to me, Pete, I’m telling you things have to change. For me and for you. Can’t you see?”

“We’re doing alright …”

“No, we’re not. You’re not. Face up to it. Rick’s gone. Siobhan. For the same reasons. And poor Melanie … You have to open your eyes, Pete. Look at me, so I know you’re listening to me. I am not going to do this anymore. Four years of faking it and now it’s time to get real and next time I’m in the studio, I want to look up and see someone else behind that glass window. Someone who knows dance music.”

“That hurts, girl. We’re getting there, aren’t we? The new record!”

“Oh come on, has that really worked? For either of us? A silly pouty photo on the cover and … I’m sorry, Pete … look, you’re the reason I have a career in music and I’ll always be grateful for that. You’re also the guy who made me what I am. But that’s not who I want to be.”

“But we could look at that, the songs, look at what’s in the charts and … you know, we could …”

“Following, Pete. We’d be following. I don’t want to do what other people have done before, and I certainly don’t want to do what I’ve done before. I don’t want to be Madonna.”

“But …”

“I want to be me.”

 

Stick or twist, the choice is yours
Hit or miss, what’s mine is yours

We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore. Fine tailoring, “Why, Miss Minogue, you’re beautiful!” glasses, predatory pose snapped in classic monochrome. From the opening bars of the opening song of her fifth album, the strings, the shuffle, exploring her lower register, the ambience, the subtlety of the instrumentation … it is evident that problems have been wrestled with, decisions have been made, and they’re the right ones. The glossy dance-pop of Confide In Me, a subtle drop in tempo for the sultry Surrender, then turn up the funk a notch for If I Was Your Lover, with those flickering guitars and descending synth bass line hook – Kylie always knows how to kick off a record properly, and the first three songs of her change in direction are my first three here. It’s all very much understated, and for the better. It feels easy.

Don’t blame me just because I am bored
I’m needy, I need to taste it all
Don’t doubt me just because I am quiet
I’m thinking, thinking about it all

And then came a great mistake, a-straying from the path of pure pop, the public reeling in shock and horror … nope, stop right there. Impossible Princess is not the out and out stinker you might believe from what you read and heard at the time, or since. It’s obviously not her finest “album as album” (we’ll get to that one soon) but neither is it a total random grab-bag. It hangs together pretty well. Kylie had much to consider, having thrown open her doors to a host of collaborators, so she tastes and tries different feels and moods, and those that work best for me are the rattling floor-fillers Breathe (Dave Ball of Soft Cell and The Grid providing input) and Drunk, which is a speedy club trip from start to finish, helmed by Brothers in Rhythm. Six months later, Madge would bang out Ray Of Light and no one in her orbit batted an eyelid, yet Kylie got brickbats. What can a girl do?

I’m through with the past
Ain’t no point in looking back
The future will be
And did I forget to mention that I found a new direction
And it leads back to me
?”

 

Froth it up a little, maybe, and steer back towards the mainstream, and … dammit, there’s only one song for me from this next record, I have to swerve all the kitsch and campery and school disco-ability (the least said about Robbie the better) because it’s ultimately just too sugary, but Spinning Around … well, it’s not bad for a secondhand Paula Abdul cast off, is it? No apologies. If this is my guilty pleasure, I’m not feeling particularly guilty. Bring it on.

Here am I with my desire
Feel it burning just for you
My, oh my, this love divine
is taking me to somewhere new

When we reach 2001 and Fever, all we’ve discussed so far becomes … what? No irrelevance, those seven albums: how many pop careers have begun and ended while Kylie did what she did to this point? Thousands. The mighty Fever isn’t a distillation of everything she’s done so far, but it is the ne plus ultra. It never lets up, neither in quality nor danceability. No ballads here to break the flow – some grinches called it monotonous, but they wouldn’t dare level that criticism at worthies like Kraftwerk, would they, so screw them. Anyhow, I’m too busy dancing to care.

It’s hedonistic. It’s pretty damn sexy. And if we needed further indication of how Feverish Kylie is feeling, the shocking minute and a half of Proof, filmed for Agent Provocateur around this time (the apogee of a sequence of fully grown-up videos starting with the Barbarella-referencing Put Yourself In My Place seven years earlier), leaves us in no doubt.

 

I can’t miss out on Can’t Get You Out Of My Head – ubiquitous, a giant, epic tune – and I wouldn’t argue if you picked any of the other songs on this record. I’ll go for the frankly filthy opener (say again, she never fails to kick off a record properly) More More More and the gear-shifting disco simplicity of Burning Up – but really, any of them. You don’t have this record? Why not? Six million people can’t be wrong.

Our eyes connected
Now nothing’s how it used to be
No second guesses

A couple of years later the post-coital Body Language kicked on by squeezing in a little more electronica and harking back to the 80s … weeell, maybe a Prince, Chaka and Scritti oriented vision of the 80s young uns might have had in 2003, but hey, let’s not be too picky. It may be that the subtle shifts in tempo and mood foxed a few people. For some, Body Language felt a little anti-climactic after the staggering success of Fever, but the crowning achievement becomes my last pick. Slow – it’s bleepy and it’s buzzy and it’s altogether ooky, maybe too ooky for some. It’s a little astringent and cold, with those almost spoken sections and tension-building pauses. But it’s her favourite song, so who are we to argue? Not I. Tom Ewing of Freaky Trigger says Slow is ‘the sound of pop undressing’. It sizzles.

And it might be the kind of thing she had in mind to make all those years ago.

 

[beep beep beep]

“Hi, this is Kylie and, well, I’m not here right now, so … yeah, leave a message? Love ya.”

“Hi, it’s me. Just wanted to say … ahh, well done. Pleased for you, I really am. It’s the right choice, but you know that … [indistinct sounds, someone speaks] … Gotta go. Take care.”

[click]

 

 

Kylie Minogue official website

SayHey – The Kylie Minogue Forum

Kylie Minogue biography (iTunes)

Read more of Keith Shackleton’s musings on music at his website, The Riverboat Captain.

TopperPost #494

6 Comments

  1. John Hartley
    Dec 22, 2015

    Very well written, despite the glaring omission of ‘Shocked’, but hey-ho… Credit must be due – begrudgingly – to Pete for seeing the potential, but it’s true: Kylie’s best work was post PWL, and this writing captures that excellently.

  2. Rob Morgan
    Dec 22, 2015

    What a wonderful piece, great writing, capturing the spirit of restless momentum in her best music. And also props for including “Slow”, a personal favourite of mine, so minimal and yet so forceful – a perfect pop song.

  3. Keith Shackleton
    Dec 23, 2015

    Thanks guys. I’ve had a couple of “what, no songs from Rhythm of Love?” comments.. all I can say is Kylie Minogue was the first Kylie record I bought, Body Language the last, so this is definitely a selection from my collection, and the Kylie tunes I live with.

  4. David Lewis
    Dec 24, 2015

    I’ve got to say that Locomotion would be the song I’d have but where I don’t know. OF COURSE I hated it. HATED it. But really, it’s fun and it hid a talent? A dogged survivor? A person who’d have much more of a career than an obvious attempt to cash in on a quickly fading tv career. Only Madonna and Kylie continue to give relevant (to teenagers) pop music over the age of 35. Which is remarkable. And worthy of comment.

  5. Peter Viney
    Dec 26, 2015

    That’s a fun read, Keith. I’m with David on Locomotion, but I wouldn’t dismiss the PWL Stock-Aitken-Waterman era anyway. For me it was the school run years … drop my son at one school then twenty minutes across town with my daughter when she was eight and nine, and a solid diet of Kylie Minogue, so I Should Be So Lucky, The Locomotion, Got To Be Certain, Nothing Can Divide Us, Wouldn’t Change A Thing. I even got so used to Especially For You with Jason that even that has a warmish glow surrounding it. Of course, recent Kylie has a different kind of warmish likeability. Do you remember the expression of delight on Paul McCartney’s face duetting with her on Dance Tonight? Jools Holland New Year’s Eve 2007. I looked at him and muttered, ‘You should be so lucky, mate …’

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3Awa4q9WYE

    • Keith Shackleton
      Jan 10, 2016

      Had I been standing in Macca’s place, I suspect the look on my face would have been very much the same 🙂

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