Friday, October 28, 2011

Kylie Minogue: 20 Greatest Singles '87-'10

An idea born out of boredom during a slow work day took an interesting change of direction. Listing favorite Kylie Minogue songs of mine became an almost impossible task.

The sheer boundlessness of Minogue's discography would fill a "Top 100" countdown easily. I wasn't quite ready for such a massive undertaking yet. Instead, I decided to draw from her singles well and narrow it to at least 20 favorites.

The timeliness of this random act couldn't have been better. Capping off the hugely successful Les Folies tour earlier this year stirred a feeling of appreciation. Looking back is something I always enjoy and when it comes to the "Pocket Venus of Pop," Ms. Minogue's hallowed halls are always fun to stroll down. There were some singles I'd have loved to include such as "Step Back in Time," "If You Were With Me Now," "Breathe," "Love At First Sight," "Red Blooded Woman," "In My Arms," "Better Than Today," etc. It does feel a bit endless. However, what I did pick evince Kylie Minogue's appetite of pop changeability. A quick reference note on the chart positions used. I  focused on two of her largest markets: England and Australia. While wildly popular in Asia and Europe, there was no room for every country in this exercise. I did include America for the singles that managed to chart here.

Selection Number 20: "Never Too Late"
Release Date: October 1989 (U.K., AU)
Written By: Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, Pete Waterman
Produced By: Stock, Aitken, & Waterman
Album: Enjoy Yourself (1989)
Chart Position: #4 (U.K.), #14 (AU)
Synopsis: Flashing into existence with a sparkling synth riff, an immediate melody carries the listener up, up, up into the pop heavens with a sing-a-long chorus.The beat is a bit more insistent on "Never Too Late," an unconscious shift in sound later to be mined fully on the following long player Rhythm of Love (1990). Purely joyful, this is accurate proof as to why Minogue's Stock-Aitken-Waterman years were pivotal in her career origin.

"Never Too Late"
Directed By: Pete Cornish

Selection Number 19: "I Should Be So Lucky"
Release Date: December 1987 (U.K., AU, U.S.A.)
Written By: Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, Pete Waterman
Produced By: Stock, Aitken, & Waterman
Album: Kylie (1987)
Chart Position: #1 (U.K.), #1 (AU), #28 (U.S.A)
Sypnosis: The lyrical signpost that trademarked the love worn laments majority of her Stock-Aitken-Waterman period material professed, "Lucky" is nothing short of brilliant. Deft, forthcoming, but vulnerable, Minogue's overall feel here is emotion wrapped in sugary hooks.

"I Should Be So Lucky"
Directed By: Chris Langman

Selection Number 18: "Giving You Up"
Release Date: March 2005 (U.K., AU)
Written By: Miranda Cooper, Brian Higgins, Tim Powell, Lisa Cowling, Paul Woods, Nick Coler, Kylie Minogue
Produced By: Brian Higgins, Xenomania
Album: Ultimate Kylie (2005)
Chart Position: #6 (U.K.), #8 (AU)
Synopsis: A clicking mecha groove knocks in all the right places. "Giving You Up" benefits from an assured chorus and verse that interplay with the frenzied pace of the arrangement. Minogue's attitude is maneater-cum-runway model, she also drops one of her best lines: "A girl's gotta suffer for fashion. She knows what a body can do. She finds a man and she makes him her passion, I'm happy trying all the time with a boy like you."

"Giving You Up"
Directed By: Alex & Martin

Selection Number 17: "Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi"
Release Date: October 1988 (U.K., AU)
Written By: Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, Pete Waterman
Produced By: Stock, Aitken, & Waterman
Album: Kylie (1987)
Chart Positions: #2 (U.K.), #12 (AU)
Synopsis: Teary-eyed circumspection gives "Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi" a "wisdom beyond its years" profundity. Out of all of Mingoue's earliest releases, "Je Ne Sais..." has the ability to shine brightly if ever given a re-recorded studio treatment. It was evidenced when Minogue resurrected it for her initial Showgirl concert shows in 2005.

"Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi"
Directed By: Chris Langman

Selection Number 16: "What Kind of Fool? (Heard It All Before)"
Release Date: August 1992 (U.K., AU)
Written By: Kylie Minogue, Mike Stock, Pete Waterman
Produced By: Stock & Waterman
Album: Greatest Hits (1992)
Chart Positions: #14 (U.K.), #17 (AU)
Synopsis: One of the two new songs recorded for Minogue's wrap-up of her S.A.W. years, "Fool" is fast and fun. The vocal given here showed a resilience and character, one that gained traction on Minogue's third and fourth albums from this time. That strength would be capitalized on with her later recorded output.

"What Kind of Fool? (Heard It All Before)"
Directed By: Greg Masuak

Selection Number 15: "Where Is the Feeling?"
Release Date: July 1995 (U.K., AU)
Written By: Wilf Smarties, Jayn Hanna
Produced By: Brothers in Rhythm
Album: Kylie Minogue (1994)
Chart Positions: #16 (U.K.), #31 (AU)
Synopsis: One of the two "lost" deConstruction label singles, "Feeling" was the final release from Kylie Minogue. The single edit, often termed as the "BIR Dolphin Mix," featured components from the jubilant album version, as well as its acoustic companion. Said acoustic version saw general release on the 2003 expanded re-release of Kylie Minogue. Surreal and sensual, the spoken word verses ground the song in the throbbing throes of desire, taking the song to unimaginable places. "Where Is the Feeling?" in this incarnation is only available on its parent maxi-single or the deConstruction centered collection Hits + (2002).

"Where Is the Feeling? (BIR Dolphin Mix)"
Directed By: Keir McFarlane

Selection Number 14: "Spinning Around"
Release Date: June 2000 (U.K., AU)
Written By: Ira Shickman, Osborne Bingham, Kara DioGuardi, Paula Abdul
Produced By: Mike Spencer
Album: Light Years (2000)
Chart Positions: #1 (U.K.), #1 (AU)
Synopsis: Returning to that pop fussiness of old? In actuality a return to a carefree state of mind is more like it. An anthem of independence and reimagination, "Spinning Around" wore a throwback urban disco sound that owed to "You've Got the Best of My Love" by The Emotions.

"Spinning Around"
Directed By: Dawn Shadforth

Selection Number 13: "2 Hearts"
Release Date: November 2007 (U.K., AU)
Written By: Kish Mauve
Produced By: Kish Mauve
Album: X (2007)
Chart Positions: #4 (U.K.), #1 (AU)
Synopsis: Her riskiest single since '97's "Some Kind of Bliss"? It's a sure bet. Hitting the ground running after her cancer diagnosis and recovery two years prior, Minogue slid into the spangly glam-rock jam. It was complete with jaunty piano bangs and enough guitar to chew on. Throughout the musical bedlam, Minogue's voice is loose and sexy.

"2 Hearts"
Directed By: Dawn Shadforth

Selection Number 12: "Slow"
Release Date: November 2003 (U.K., AU), February 2004 (U.S.A.)
Written By: Kylie Minogue, Dan Carey, Emiliana Torrini
Produced By: Dan Carey, Emiliana Torrini
Album: Body Language (2003)
Chart Positions: #1 (U.K.), #1 (AU), #91 (U.S.A.)
Synopsis: The minimalist, electronic back-drop of "Slow" still stands as one of Minogue's best singles. Slinky, its modus operandi is seduction plain and simple. The opening lyric of "I knew you'd be here tonight, so I put my best dress on" will send the listener into sensory overload.

Directed By: Baillie Walsh

Selection Number 11: "Chocolate"
Release Date: June 2004 (U.K., AU)
Written By: Karen Poole, Johnny Douglas
Produced By: Johnny Douglas
Album: Body Language (2003)
Chart Positions: #6 (U.K.), #14 (AU)
Synopsis: Body Language as an album possessed Minogue's most velvet like ballads since Kylie Minogue (1994). "Chocolate" with its dramatic prose against a canvas of melodic changes, it's one of Minogue's best performances. The middle eight draws everything in; a luxuriate center that like its real life Lindt candy counterpart smoothly melts.

Directed By: Dawn Shadforth

Selection Number 10: "Finer Feelings"
Release Date: April 1992 (U.K., AU)
Written By: Mike Stock, Pete Waterman
Produced By: Brothers in Rhythm
Album: Let's Get To It (1991)
Chart Positions: #11 (U.K.), #60 (AU)
Synopsis: "Finer Feelings" was an inhouse work from the recently broken Stock-Aitken-Waterman trio; now down to Mr. Stock and Waterman. The single version though confessed a brooding, pastel cool courtesy of Dave Seaman and Steve Anderson, known collectively as Brothers In Rhythm. The first working project for Minogue and the Brothers was fruitful, laying the groundwork for her prolific deConstruction age.

"Finer Feelings"
Directed By: Dave Hogan

Selection Number 9: "All the Lovers"
Release Date: June 2010 (U.K., AU, U.S.A)
Written By: Jim Eliot, Mima Stilwell
Produced By: Jim Eliot, Stuart Price
Album: Aphrodite (2010)
Chart Positions: #3 (U.K.), #13 (AU), #101 (U.S.A)
Synopsis: Functioning between the space of a ballad and uptempo, "All the Lovers" sweeps into an orchestrated feel that will bring to mind a spiritual salvation. Minogue's vocal bravura is confident, not cocky, lending a level of emotional connection rarely seen in modern pop music.

"All the Lovers"
Directed By: Dave Meyers

Selection Number 8: "In Your Eyes"
Release Date: February 2002 (U.K., AU)
Written By: Kylie Minogue, Richard "Biff" Stannard, Julian Gallagher, Ash Howes
Produced By: Richard "Biff" Stannard, Julian Gallagher
Album: Fever (2001)
Chart Positions: #3 (U.K.), #1 (AU)
Sypnopsis: A hot blooded, mirrorball spinner, "In Your Eyes" takes no prisoners. Its incessant pulse raising beat pounds while Minogue and a host of sonic effects ride the spine of the song. Including several snatches and percussion tricks, "In Your Eyes" will never wear out its welcome.

"In Your Eyes"
Directed By: Dawn Shadforth

Selection Number 7: "Got To Be Certain"
Released Date: May 1988 (U.K., AU)
Written By: Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, Pete Waterman
Produced By: Stock, Aitken, & Waterman
Album: Kylie (1987)
Chart Positions: #2(U.K.), #1 (AU)
Synopsis: Vital and youthful, "Got To Be Certain" is the veritable "Smilie Kylie" chestnut that is too lovable to deny. With its repetitious clap-a-long touches, it has a peppy glide to its step. Minogue's voice, even in its earliest incarnation has presence, but is limited by her lack of experience at this point.

"Got To Be Certain"
Directed By: Chris Langman

Selection Number 6: "Some Kind of Bliss"
Release Date: September 1997 (U.K., AU)
Written By: Kylie Minogue, James Dean Bradfield, Sean Moore
Produced By: James Dean Bradfield, Dave Eringa
Album: Impossible Princess (1998)
Chart Positions: #22 (U.K.), #27 (AU)
Synopsis: The other lost deConstruction label single, "Bliss" remains misunderstood to the present day by fans, critics, and maybe Kylie Minogue herself. Ravishingly addictive in its collision of Tamla Motown violins and British rock accessories, Minogue's athletic vocal fuses all the elements into a beautiful whole. The longing here is almost palpable.

"Some Kind of Bliss"
Directed By: David Mould

Selection Number 5: "Better the Devil You Know"
Release Date: April 1990 (U.K., AU)
Written By: Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, Pete Waterman
Produced By: Stock, Aitken, & Waterman
Album: Rhythm of Love (1990)
Chart Positions: #2 (U.K.), #4 (AU)
Synopsis: La Minogue's best love song employs equal amounts of melancholy and dance music fuel. "Better the Devil You Know" was a gesture toward a marked sophistication musically, vocally, and lyrically. Seen as an anthem to many, "Devil" also has the ability to communicate on a sensitive level, allowing it a broader identity outside of a dance context.

"Better the Devil You Know"
Directed By: Paul Goldman

Selection Number 4: "Can't Get You Out of My Head"
Release Date: September 2001 (U.K., AU), January 2002 (U.S.A.)
Written By: Rob Davies, Cathy Dennis
Produced By: Rob Davies, Cathy Dennis
Album: Fever (2001)
Chart Positions: #1 (U.K.), #1 (AU), #7 (U.S.A)
Synopsis: The inescapable anthem that solidified Minogue's brand of pop and reignited interest in the United States was simple and clean. Laboring several pulses below the clubbier cuts on its parent album Fever, "Head" was hard enough to bob heads and move feet.

"Can't Get You Out of My Head"
Directed By: Dawn Shadforth

Selection Number 3: "What Do I Have to Do?"
Release Date: January 1991 (U.K., AU)
Written By: Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, Pete Waterman
Produced By: Stock, Aitken, & Waterman
Album: Rhythm of Love (1990)
Chart Positions: #6 (U.K.), #11 (AU)
Synopsis: By this time Minogue had grown, almost overnight, into the pop siren we'd know today. "What Do I Have to Do" is one of those diamonds in Minogue's backlog that shows if the urgent, feminity of "What..." had wider exposure Stateside, Minogue would have broken here much earlier than she did.

"What Do I Have to Do?"
Directed By: Dave Hogan

Selection Number 2: "Put Yourself in My Place"
Release Date: November 1994 (U.K., AU)
Written By: Jimmy Harry
Produced By: Jimmy Harry
Album: Kylie Minogue (1994)
Chart Positions: #11 (U.K.), #11 (AU)
Synopsis: Dreamy and full of atmosphere, Minogue's take on New York Quiet Storm reaches for resolution in love. It's a song for the "grown and sexy" Minogue fans as it were. Confused and aching verses give way to a defiant chorus, "Put Yourself in My Place" is as real as pop music gets.

"Put Yourself in My Place"
Directed By: Keir McFarlane

Selection Number 1: "Confide in Me"
Release Date: August 1994 (U.K. & AU)
Written By: Steve Anderson, Dave Seaman
Produced By: Brothers in Rhythm
Album: Kylie Minogue (1994)
Chart Positions: #2 (U.K.) #1 (AU)
Synopsis: "Confide in Me" is a song that is a benchmark, a touchstone for reinvention."Confide in Me" sought to shatter any preconceived ideas about her and let the music speak for itself.Clocking in at no less than six minutes, the cut is an ambitious rewrite of James Bond styled-pop. Even better, "Confide in Me" forever removed doubt that Minogue herself couldn't carry a song vocally.

"Confide in Me"
Directed By: Paul Boyd

[Editor's Note: All of Kylie Minogue's albums mentioned are in print. Anything prior to 2001 may not be domestically available in the States. Anything from 1987-2000 can of course be special ordered via your local indie record store, online via Amazon or eBay, or iTunes. For current information on Kylie Minogue, visit -QH]

1 comment:

Diva Incarnate said...

I'm quite pleased at how many of her earlier material is here: Hand On Your Heart and Je Nais are sublime Hi-NRG pop. She excelled on her Rhythm of Love singles: those productions are seamless, such peaks by any standards. I become a bit weary after this period. I love the singles Put Yourself In My Place, Breathe, Some Kind of Bliss (her look was a revelation to me at the time - I still remember hearing Don't Speak on the radio for the first time and thinking how amazing Kylie had became!). More recently, I Believe In You is just radiant, and The One has an aching New Order strain under its haunting pathos. Like Dannii's All I Wanna Do, I think the person Kylie is singing to is in fact herself in many ways. Of course, Dannii's song here is more fascinating to interpret given her considerable transformation and personal problems at the time, butThe One is just lush and to me it would've suited D more (just like the Metro-helmed On A Night Like This). Great reviews though - I might not love her so much but you can't beat detailed analysis of her impressive singles (which have kind of stopped in my opinion).