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The Glenny Guide To… K27, Kiss Me Once and The Top 27 Tracks of Kylie’s Career

May 31, 2014

Unless you’ve been living under a virtual rock the past few weeks, you may have noticed that Australia’s Premier Pop Export and long time Home Perm Pioneer Kylie Minogue is EVERYWHERE at the moment.  Not only is she the new female face of The Voice (in, ahem, more ways than one), but she’s managed to release her 12th studio album of her 27 (TWENTY SEVEN) year recording career.  Lets take a moment to let that sink in.  Twenty Seven Years.  Think about it – that’s as long as other music legends like Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin managed to live in their entire LIVES.  Heck, it’s older that most of her current FANS (and boyfriends).  So, how exactly does someone in this day and age, let alone one (somewhat) affectionately dubbed the “Singing Budgie” last that long, especially as commercial viable mainstream artist?

Take a moment and ask yourself what is your favorite Kylie Minogue song.  It probably takes most of you longer than you’d expect for a star of her stature (figuratively speaking, OBVI).  Like, at what point did the woman who spent all of the late 80’s and most of the 90’s as a walking (inter)national punchline become one of our most beloved cultural musical treasures?  Pretty much everyone has a point where their love of Kylie went from being some sort of guilty pleasure to a complete and utter unironic delight.  Was it when she got into INXS? Or those infamous Gold Hotpants?  Maybe it was that time Can’t Get You Out Of My Head conquered America and the rest of the free world?  Or are you a late in life fan, suckered in by her latest venture as the official Spokesvagina of the UK and Australian editions of The Voice?  Whatever it was, there is no denying that, somewhere inside, pretty much everyone these days is Team Kylie.  But what exactly has she released to earn her this place of eternal pop ubiquity?  I mean – most of us remember the 80’s and those songs were all pretty awful, right?  So, lets take a walk down Musical Memory Lane (note – not a real place) and look at Miss Minogue’s Top 27 Contributions to the Music World at Large…

kylie celebatory party

 

27. I SHOULD BE SO LUCKY

Year of Release – 1987
Album – Kylie
Australian Chart Peak – 1
UK Chart Peak – 1
US Chart Peak – 28
Type of Kylie – Poodle-Permed Pop Princess Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – You really can’t go past the impossibly earwormy “I should be so lucky – LUCKY LUCKY LUCKY” hook of the chorus.  It just gets you, every damned time.

So here it is, the little song that started it all.  Well, yes – technically THAT was The Locomotion, but it was more of an anomaly, a freak accident, the very definition of a One Hit Wonder (where in the US, for the better of two decades, it was).  Rather it was this, a Stock Aiken Waterman tune hastily penned in 40 minutes after Minogue showed up for a meeting they’d completely forgotten about, that went and cemented Kylie as a legitimate chart force and smashed sales records (for both Vinyl Singles and Hair Scrunchie Sets) worldwide.  So, what is it about this three minute long string of leftover bubblegum that created such an enduring pop behemoth?  Sure, the vocals are kind of abysmal and the “I should be so lucky – lucky lucky lucky” hook has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, but all the other hooks throughout the song (the spectacularly crafted “in my imagination, there is no..” key change springs to mind) help keep it in your head, even 27 years later.. And the video is just so damned ADORKABLE that it basically paved the way for Zooey Deschanel’s entire career.

 

 

26. LOVE AFFAIR

Year of Release – 2001
Album – Fever
Australian Chart Peak – N/A
UK Chart Peak – N/A
Type of Kylie – Sultry Poppers O’Clock Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – The “close your eyes – so you can see..” bridge is still one of the sexiest and most commanding come ons in the history of music, ever.

Then, on the other hand, we have the smash hit single that never was.  While Come Into My World will always be remembered as both one of the greatest videos of Kylie’s career (watch it HERE) as well as being her very first Grammy win, it was this dark dancefloor stormer thats lack of release is a blackest mark on her career. One of the standout tracks on career peak Fever, it was absolutely SCREAMING for a commercial single release, before everyone apparently chickened out and went with watered down Can’t Get You Out Of My Head retread Come Into My World instead.  To think there was a time in Kylie’s career when THIS wasn’t good enough to be a single is just astounding, especially when you consider that she’d pretty much sell Dannii’s firstborn for anything even remotely this commercially appealing these days..

 

25. SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY

Year of Release – 2014
Album – Kiss Me Once (Special Edition)
Australian Chart Peak – N/A
UK Chart Peak – N/A
Type of Kylie – Electroballad Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – The whole entire chorus is spine-tinglingly heartbreaking, but the “what is it she does that I don’t do / was it not enough that I loved you?” second verse is just DEVASTATING.

Speaking of Team Kylie’s endlessly fascinating and increasingly baffling attitude towards her own material, we come to THIS little number from her latest release.  A sparkling, mid-tempo slow-burner that manages to be both haunting, emotionally affecting and blessed with a hook so catchy that even the world’s most inept angler could land with it, it somehow managed to be deemed worthy of no more than a lowly Bonus Track berth.  Much of the criticism hurled in the direction of Kylie’s career this past decade or so isn’t to do with the quality of her material per se, but with the fact much of it is so clearly unsuited for what the public at large wants to hear from a fading 46 year old former popstrel.  This doesn’t mean her time in the mainstream sun is over by any means, just that there needs to be more care taken with what material is selected.  So the fact that something this mature, catchy and creatively satisfying can’t even make it onto the official tracklisting, but tuneless and age inappropriate tripe like Sexercise can, is just mind boggling.  THIS IS WHY YOU CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS KYLIE!

 

24. I DON’T NEED ANYONE

Year of Release – 1997
Album – Impossible Princess
Australian Chart Peak – N/A
UK Chart Peak – N/A
Type of Kylie – Indie Disco Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – That bit at the 0:07 second mark where those oh so indie guitars sound like they crash into the side of Burt Bacharach’s Tour Bus and get swept up in a swirling sea of strings, horns and everything but his kitchen sink.

You may notice a recurring theme throughout this piece where we decry not so much the material itself, but the completely ineffectual and often counter-productive way Team Minogue seems to be selecting which material  to promote.  I Don’t Need Anyone is yet another prime example of a song that should have been a single but instead was relegated to the dustbins of pop.  Back in 1997, the idea of a dairy pop princess collaborating with a Manic Street Preacher was understandably met with a mix of healthy skepticism and complete derision by the serious music press and general public at large.  Sadly, the already risky Impossible Princess campaign went right down the gurgler the second some genius decided to release the pleasant but bland Some Kind Of Bliss as the lead single.  The saddest part of the whole fiasco is that they had this infectious, shiny guitar-pop anthem hidden under their belts.   Riding high on that special kind of propulsive energy that manages to bridge the gap between the joys of the dancefloor and the inherent pretension college radio, it was EXACTLY the kind of statement that Indie Kylie needed to make.   There’s an alternate timeline out there somewhere where this absolute corker of a track was the lead single instead and, honestly, life is better there.

 

23. IF YOU DON’T LOVE ME

Year of Release – 1994
Album – Confide In Me CD Single (B-Side)
Australian Chart Peak – N/A
UK Chart Peak – N/A
Type of Kylie – Torch Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – How her voice cuts out on the final line, leaving dead silence before finally managing a resigned whisper of the remaining “…I’ll know” of the chorus.  Just beautiful.

Much has been made on social media these past few weeks of the fact that Kylie (or, as we antipodeans semi-affectionately call her -The Singing Budgie) is judging TV’s premiere Very Serious Singing Competition slash Swivel Chair Enthusiasts Hour ‘The Voice’ and, lets be honest, the jokes really do seem to write themselves.  Or do they?  For an artist who famously launched her own musical career on little more than a wing, a prayer and a pair of over-sized overalls (rather than any discernible singing talent to speak of), it’s oft-overlooked that Miss Minogue does, on occasion, possess a pretty impressive set of pipes (NB – Not a Euphemism).  Sure, she might have to be standing still in order to do so, but so do most other contestants you see these days on So You Think You Can Idol, and no one seems to give two shits about that.  Her ability to use her voice to effectively emote in song is actually quite underrated, particularly on moments like this stunning piano ballad torch number.  Originally the b-side to 1994’s Confide In Me, this Prefab Sprout cover is still as hauntingly beautiful as it was back then.  Sure, it may be older than most of her fanbase now, but it’s exactly the kind of direction that she’d benefit from taking – especially if she wants to regain that sense of critical and commercial credibility she so clearly still craves.

 

22. ESPECIALLY FOR YOU

Year of Release – 1988
Album – Ten Good Reasons by Jason Donovan
Australian Chart Peak – 2
UK Chart Peak – 1
Type of Kylie – Cheesy Ballad Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – The whole entire video is one big Minogue moment TBH, three and a half minutes of a woman at the absolute peak of her public popularity.  Basically, she could have murdered a couple of dozen puppies in that clip and people would have just lined up to buy the coats..

And now to the completely opposite end of the Kylie ballad spectrum, we have this gloriously dated number, which somehow managed to be pretty much the biggest hit of the entire 1980’s in both Australia and in the UK.  Essentially the sound of two adjacent dairy farms burning down over a backing track made up of synthesizers and rapidly emptying hairspray cans, it’s strangely charming in a pop culture curio kind of way.  Kind of like a Hyper-colour T-Shirt.  Or Alf Pogs.  Still, credit where credit’s due – dated production aside, there is something so strangely magical about all of this and the way the teen angst urgency of the bridge changes key and sweeps up into the “..and now we’re back together.  TOGEEEEEEETHER” chorus is just pure pop amazingness.  Even if the fact that these two blonde, baby-faced Stepford Neighbours somehow managed to be the most famous couple in the entire world for two whole dizzying years is a concept too mind-boggling for us to handle.  And, 997,000 copies later, it remains still remains the highest selling Stock Aiken Waterman single of all time.

 

21. THE ONE

Year of Release – 2007
Album – X
Australian Chart Peak – Failed To Chart
UK Chart Peak – 36
Type of Kylie – Dreamy New Order Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – Those gorgeous “Love Me, Love Me, Love Me, Love Me“‘s in the chorus.

We’ve made quite the point so far about all the things that modern Kylie needs to commercially move forward from.  Thankfully, unlike the rest of the internets, we’re not that big on mercilessly criticising without offering something equally constructive in return.  Besides straight up torch balladry like If You Don’t Love Me, THIS is the perfect example of Modern Kylie doing what Modern Kylie does best – dreamy, emotionally honest electro-pop.  Don’t let the songs dire commercial performance fool you (mostly due to approximately zero promotion and an inferior upbeat radio remix) – this is one of the best songs the Millennium Minogue has done to date.  Sweetly earnest and sexy as hell, it has the kind of vulnerability and genuine warmth that so many of her latter day releases seem to be almost consciously avoiding or, at best, wilfully obscuring.  The “love me, love me, love me” chorus is as pure and naked a moment as only pop will permit and the “close to touch, like Michelangelo” is the kind of B-A-N-A-N-A-S, left field lyric that Xenomania themselves would KILL for.  There are very few songs that can lay to claim that they are completely and utterly perfect, but this one just is.

 

20. APHRODITE

Year of Release – 2010
Album – Aphrodite
Australian Chart Peak – N/A
UK Chart Peak – N/A
Type of Kylie – Bombastic Comeback Queen Of The Airwaves Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – The opening “CAN YOU FEEL ME IN THE STEREO”‘s.  And the way the “I’m going BACK.  and FORTH. and FORTH. and BACK!” bits manage to sound like both a mission statement and, well, a blush-inducing account of her bedroom activities are just perfect.

We’re just going to skip the long-winded rant about this being the lead single that never was because, lets be honest, it’s only eight songs in and we’re already balls deep in them.  But, to be fair – this is exactly the kind of commercial but credible pop Minogue needed to explode back onto the scene with.  Especially if she wanted to contend with a radio landscape littered with superstars young enough to be her grandkids.  Now don’t get us wrong – All The Lovers is a bloody fantastic song and completely deserves it’s place in the Kylie Pop Canon, but as an artists commercial star fades, they need to be taking bigger risks and making bolder statements, all the while staying in line with both the audiences expectations and the interests of the masses that have often abandoned them.  And this was the perfect bridging track she needed, a fresh, modern sounding earworm of a song that literally explodes through your speakers and announces “Me.  I Am Kylie.  The Commercially Viable Chanteuse”.

 

19. FLOWER

Year of Release – 2012
Album – The Abbey Road Sessions
Australian Chart Peak – N/A
UK Chart Peak – 96
Type of Kylie – Tenderly Introspective Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – The big “I know one day you’ll amaze meeeeeeeeeee – Ohhhhhhh…” she unleashes in the second last chorus is pretty special.

The prospect of Kylie unleashing an album of radically reworked live orchestral recordings of her greatest hits was enough to fill most music fans with dread.  Yet, somehow, what should have been the most embarrassing albums of her career ended up being one of her bona fide top shelf best.  One of the highlights was this stunning number, a wistful and tender love song to the child she may now never be able to have.  Kylie copped a lot of criticism in the ‘X’ campaign for refusing to musically acknowledge the trauma she had faced in the wake of Cancer-gate and it’s a shame this track was scrapped from that album as it could have leant some much needed gravitas to a campaign that was bordering on vapid and disingenuous. Still, the fact that it finally got its proper dues here almost makes it all worthwhile – such an honest, special little song that deserves all the attention it can get.

 

18. I WAS GONNA CANCEL

Year of Release – 2014
Album – Kiss Me Once
Australian Chart Peak – TBA
UK Chart Peak – TBA
Type of Kylie – Divisively Funky Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – The “GO! GO! GO! GO-OH-OH-OH-O-OH!” disco stomp of the chorus (which is so good you don’t even mind Pharrell lifted it wholesale from Yonce’s Green Light.

And here we have the new single which, before it’s even been properly released, has become the most polarizing thing Minogue’s done since Michael Hutchence.  It’s difficult to objectively appraise its prospects at this point, given the myriad of backlashes it seems to be facing on every single front (some ridiculous, others completely deserved) – so we’re just going to focus on our initial impressions.  When you first listen to the wildly inconsistent Kiss Me Once, I Was Gonna Cancel is clearly the standout track.  Now, whether you consider it to be amazing or a complete pop-bomination seems to be up for debate.  But we’re squarely in the formers camp, with this bouncy, thoroughly modern sounding Pharrell Williams funkathon bursting off the album like a breath of fresh air, much in the same way Aphrodite did a few years prior.  Because when you’ve been pumping out music for almost three decades, it’s hard to find songs that stay true to your back catalogue while still remaining relevant and relatable to a modern audience, and I Was Gonna Cancel manages to stamp both boxes with panache.  If we weren’t stuck in an era already mired by the bland Radio 2-baiting lead single and THAT abysmal Logies performance, this could have been the track that well and truly reinvigorated Kylie’s career.  Now, it’s more just a matter of who the fuck knows – especially after the energy-draining disaster that was it’s Fifty Shades Of Beige video clip.  While there has yet to be any official word from Pharrell’s camp as to whether he was actually paid for his participation in all of this, we do have it on good authority that it was probably pretty good exposure for him anyway…

You can watch the beige-tastic trainwreck of a video HERE, but we’d strongly advise going with the Actually Very Good Lyric Video below instead :-

 

17. SPINNING AROUND

Year of Release – 2000
Album – Light Years
Australian Chart Peak – 1
UK Chart Peak – 1
Type of Kylie – Comeback Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – THE VIDEO!  WOW. SO KYLIE. MUCH HOTPANTS. GOLD.

A lot of celebrities seem to spend most of their free time making an arse of themselves in the media.  On the other hand, it was Our Kylie  who basically pioneered the strategy of using ones rear to get their career BACK into gear.  And oh what a strategy is was!  Lets just say, whoever had the golden idea to put Kylie in a pair of hotpants for this basically deserves a Knighthood of some sort at this point.  Or, at the very least, a cut of every dollar she’s made this millennium.  It also helps that the song itself is a certified corker too – the kind of  triumphant disco pop anthem that it’s OKAY to like.  Plus, it still holds up remarkably well – thank God co-writer Paula Abdul had the good sense to not record it, because the idea of MC Skat Kat bouncing his way around this is a little too much for us to handle..

 

16. WHAT KIND OF FOOL (HEARD ALL THAT BEFORE)

Year of Release – 1992
Album – Greatest Hits
Australian Chart Peak – 17
UK Chart Peak – 14
Type of Kylie – Gloria Gaynor Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – The attitude she serves up the “You can say you’ll be true, I can trust in you .. but I Heard All That Before” in the choruses is probably the exact moment she sounded completely like a take no shit, grown ass woman on record.

Now, this is probably the point where basically anything that doesn’t hold up to the Family Feud system of certification is probably going to be controversial.  But sod it – What Kind Of Fool is possibly the most underrated single in the Kylie canon.  This is some of the strongest SAW songwriting ever produced – both lyrically and melodically – and that fact it so often gets overlooked is a testament to the overwhelming audience apathy Minogue was experiencing in the early nineties more than anything.  Coming on like an unofficial sonic sequel to Better The Devil You Know, it’s a surprisingly strong song and well worth another visit.

 

15. GBI (GERMAN BOLD ITALIC)

Year of Release – 1998
Album – Sound Museum by Towa Tei
Australian Chart Peak – 50
UK Chart Peak – 63
Type of Kylie – Bonkers Experiemental Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – “YOU WILL LIKE MY SENSE OF STYLE”

Quite possibly the oddest track that has ever Minogued, this 1998 collaboration with Groove Is In The Heart superstar DJ Towa Tei confounded both critics and audiences alike.  Hot on the heels of her divisive and underperforming Impossible Princess album, this avant-garde house extravaganza at least managed to give us possibly the most delightfully insane Kylie video of all time.  It actually holds up incredibly well to this day, once freed from the shackles of her (then) image and audience expectations.  Her deceptively blank line delivery actually works on more levels than your average Nintendo game and the increasingly girlish giggles towards the tracks end make it sound like it might just bethe most fun Kylie has ever had, either on or off the record.

 

14. NEVER TOO LATE

Year of Release – 2012
Album – The Abbey Road Sessions
Australian Chart Peak – N/A
UK Chart Peak – N/A
Type of Kylie – Plaintive Balladeer Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – The way her voice drops out at the 2:29 mark after the “even if it takes forever, your love’s better late than never…” before cracking back in at a whisper for the final chorus.  SO MUCH HEARTACHE.  SO MUCH DRAMA.  A GAY JUST CAN’T EVEN.

If any one song benefitted from 2012’s stop-gap orchestral experiment, it was this vaguely cheesy dance-pop number from her second album.  Who knew that a song most famous for giving us ‘Cowgirl Kylie” was actually a certifiably amazing Debbie Down-athon?  It’s often said that the best pop songs use bells and whistles to mask their melancholy, and this theory is never more evident than on here.  In just three short minutes, Minogue manages to pack more heartbreaking desperation and devastation into this stunning reimagination than most Academy Award winning actresses do in entire movies.  It’s more emotionally devastating than her work in Streetfighter and Biodome combined…  Simply gorgeous.

 

13. I BELIEVE IN YOU

Year of Release – 2004
Album – Ultimate Kylie
Australian Chart Peak – 6
UK Chart Peak – 2
Type of Kylie – Ethereal Goddess Of The Dancefloor Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – When she starts singing the “I Believe In You, I Believe In..  I Believe In You, I Believe In..” hook double time after the middle eight, like her vocal chords are trying to do The Robot or something.  AMAZING.

Probably the last genuinely huge hit of her career, this glacial disco classic managed to not just essentially top the charts (if you don’t count charity singles and X-Factor winner releases which, lets face it, we’d all rather not) but scoop up a much deserved Grammy nomination to boot.  Co-written by several key members of The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Scissors, it’s endured long past it’s initial release, popping up on almost all major tours and is even still heard on commercial radio from time to time.  Somehow icy but warm, futuristic but timeless,  I Believe In You is Kylie at her creative and commercially-accessible best.

 

12. DID IT AGAIN

Year of Release – 1997
Album – Impossible Princess
Australian Chart Peak – 15
UK Chart Peak – 14
Type of Kylie – ‘Indie-anna Minogue & The Triple J’ers Of The Jumped Shark’ Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – THE VIDEO.  THE GODDAMN FUCKING VIDEO.  WHY ARE YOU EVEN READING THIS WHEN YOU COULD BE WATCHING THE VIDEO?  WHAT IS *WRONG* WITH YOU?

And, here we have it Ladies and Gentlemen … The Greatest Video Clip Of Kylie’s Career.  That’s right, in a video catalogue filled with Gold Hotpants, Deranged Geishas and a Guylinered-Robbie Williams on Heat, THIS is the GOAT Kylie music video.  Watching four increasingly demented Minogues from different career eras (Dance Kylie, Cute Kylie, Sex Kylie and Indie Kylie) duking it out over a police line-up was both knowing, hilarious and the most amazingly meta piece of promo the album could’ve possibly had.   The song itself is a right corker too – all electric guitars and middle eastern flourishes, built around an absolutely brilliant hook and one of the most confident and defiantly sexy vocals she’s ever bothered committing to record.

 

11. PUT YOURSELF IN MY PLACE

Year of Release – 1994
Album – Kylie Minogue
Australian Chart Peak – 11
UK Chart Peak – 11
Type of Kylie – Heartbroken Astronaut Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment –I hear that you’re in love now, Baby don’t know what to say – I can’t BELIE-IE-IEVE that I still feel this way” still sends shivers down our spine, even now..

The irony of this gorgeous trip-pop ballad *just* missing the Top Ten was almost enough for us to bump it up a notch or two but, alas, here it is.  In it’s PLACE.  Famous for the iconic Barbarella-aping video, it’s a lushly produced minor masterpiece.  Full of keenly observed lyrics (much more so than you normally expect to find in the Minogue canon) and a plaintive, pleading vocal that builds into a heart-wrenching crescendo each chorus, it’s one of the most adult things she’s ever done.  And we don’t just mean that because she takes all her clothes off in the clip and stuff..

 

10. IF ONLY

Year of Release – 2014
Album – Kiss Me Once
Australian Chart Peak – N/A
UK Chart Peak – N/A
Type of Kylie – Grand Dame Of The Theatre Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – The “if I set you free and you actually came back to me” bridge and post-chorus is possibly the thing she’s done all millennium.

And here we have it Ladies and Gentlemen, the TEN BEST SONGS OF KYLIE’S CAREER.  And, wouldn’t you know it, the old bird has managed to smuggle one of her new albums tracks into the final round.  Which sounds like an awkward segue,  but it’s actually kind of the whole point of our dissertation on her continued insistence on releasing music.  It’s all well and good to not set up shop in the Old Popstars Home just yet, but a major sticking point with our continued investment in Kylie as a music fan is whether we’re actually getting any new material of merit, or if we’re just stuck in a perpetual cycle of diminishing returns.  In all objective honesty, half of Kiss Me Once is late career pap of the worst kind – bland, unmemorable anona-pop that could have been sung by just about anyone.  For better or for worse, reigning musical royalty is just held to a higher standard – you can’t cash in on your legacy one moment and not expect to hold up your end of the bargain bin when it comes time to give something back.  Well, rather, you can – but that’s a one way ticket to spending the rest of your days hawking your latest release on QVC or exclusively releasing it at *shudders* Tescos.  Million Miles, Sexy Love, Feels So Good, Beautiful and Fine are all perfectly, well, fine songs (actually – Beautiful is a fucking embarrassment, but that’s a whole separate post entirely), but they just don’t feel even remotely like Kylie songs.  And none of them, bar Million Miles, is strong enough to compensate for said fact and warrant a place on the album.  When you have bodies of work as cohesive and fully realized as Impossible Princess, Light Years, Fever and, heck, even Body Language, there is a benchmark that’s been set.  As they like to say in the industry – if you’re gonna release shit then get off the Pop.

So it’s a thoroughly pleasant surprise that, at it’s best, half of Kiss Me Once is in the elite elite of Kylie albums.  There are a handful of gems that make her continued presence in the New Release section totally worthwhile.  And none more so than this epic electro-ballad, that somehow manages to be both epic and intimate, unique but universal.   Clocking in at 3:22, every single second is filled with perfectly observed details – there’s not a single flourish that is out of place or anything less than AMAZING, yet it never once sounds over-produced.  Honestly, we could do a ‘Top 27 Best Bits In If Only’ blog and still run out of room.  The stuttering “uh oh-oh, uh oh-oh’s” that loop through it, the way the chorus is almost operatic as it soars out of the bridge like some sort of heartbroken phoenix, and THE LYRICS..  Popjustice described it as  reflective and dramatic, like Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’ put through a 2014 enormoballad blender” and, honestly, that’s as spot on and succinct as anything we’re capable of coming up with.  In short, it’s PERFECT.

 

09. KIDS (feat. Robbie Williams)

Year of Release – 2000
Album – Light Years (although this version is inferior to both the radio/video edit and the full Sing When You’re Winning cut)
Australian Chart Peak – 14
UK Chart Peak – 2
Type of Kylie – Rock & Roll Groupie Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – The total abandon with how she unleashes the “..well I like Drummers, baby you’re not my baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaag” bit right before the final chorus has the sense of unabashed primal urgency that only the best rocks songs have.

Probably the hardest inclusion on this whole list to rank, mostly because where you place it depends entirely on how strongly you feel about it’s inclusion in the Kylie Kanon.  To be honest, we could have had it as high as #5, but there’s always the faint feeling that it’s really more a Robbie Williams song when it all comes down to it,  with Kylie just roped in for sex appeal and tabloid mileage.  Still, it’s an absolute stormer of a song – clever lyrics, soaring guitars and an anthemic chorus of the HIGHEST order.  Kids manages the rare feat of working both on a totally ironic and completely serious level simultaneously and is all the better for it.  Loses points for the Light Years version not including William’s stone cold classic rap at the end, but gains points for the fact that “I’ve been dropping beats since Back In Black” might just be the best Kylie lyric of all time.  So, #9 it is then..

 

08. CAN’T GET YOU OUT OF MY HEAD

Year of Release – 2001
Album – Fever
Australian Chart Peak – 1
UK Chart Peak – 1
US Chart Peak – 7
Type of Kylie – Futuristic Dominatrix Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – The exact moment, 29 seconds in, when she lets loose with the very first “I just can’t get you out of my head” and both Music and Erectile Dysfunction were cured forever more.  Plus, there’s the slight matter of those infamous “La La La’s…

And here we have it, the song that both jump-started her career in the US and reintroduced Kylie Minogue to all future generations.  The heady combination of nostalgia and national pride that came with that glorious year Our Kylie conquered the globe is still one that brings a tear to the eye of many an (even non-gay) Aussie.  Still, it’s almost as easy to resent this eternal robo-pop opus.  Not just because we suddenly had to share her with the rest of the world, but the fact that you can make a strong case for any and all dissatisfaction with her recorded output since stemming directly from the commercial and creative freedom she got from the staggering success of Fever.  After almost 15 years of begging for freedom (’14 Years A Slave ‘- starring Kylie Minogue.  COMING TO A THEATRE NEAR YOU!  etc etc..), Kylie finally got the respect she so clearly (and – lets be fair – completely understandably) deserved, and her recorded output ever since has been both richer AND poorer for it.

Still, there is no denying the extent of how amazing this song is – it was futuristic before robotics became musically trendy, it didn’t conform to traditional song structure, it carried vocals that felt more dirty and sexual than the laws of common decency generally allow.  And it was glorious – those “La’s La’s La’s” are still as spine-tingling as they were all those years ago,the video is as commanding and hypnotic as ever and just the very thought of the way the song is sung is enough to give even the most Wizard of Oz-worshipping Mo more wood than a Tin Man could ever possibly handle.

 

07. FINER FEELINGS

Year of Release – 1992/2012
Album – The Abbey Road Sessions
Australian Chart Peak – 60
UK Chart Peak – 11
Type of Kylie – Poignantly Frustrated Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – The sweeping “You can still have a true heart, with a free mind..” of the bridges.

If Never Too Late was the track that had the most impressive transformation on The Abbey Road Sessions, Finer Feelings is the one that you didn’t even remember existed until it got blessed with such a striking musical reinvention.  The original suffers somewhat from a very ‘of the moment’ acid house sound that had dated quicker than a Hilton Sister,  but the complex and mature lyrics were liberated by a more intimate production.  Indeed, looking back on early nineties Kylie, it’s actually vaguely astounding that this ever got greenlit in the first place, let alone released as a single.  Haunting and heartbreaking in equal measures, it traffics in levels of sadness so exquisite they’re normally only found in Empty Dance Halls and Swedish Recording Studios.  STUNNING.

 

06. LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

Year of Release – 2002
Album – Fever
Australian Chart Peak – 3
UK Chart Peak – 2
US Chart Peak – 23
Type of Kylie – Unabashedly Euphoric Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – The way the chorus takes off the second the “..cuz BAYYYY-BEEEEEEEEEE…” is unleashed.  AMAZING.

And here we are Gaydies and Gentlemen – the part of the countdown where any of these remaining songs could feasibly be the Number One.  There’s a legitimate argument that could be made for any of the next six songs taking the title but, alas, we’re going to Sophie’s Choice our way to the end as best we can.  There’s an elite club of songs that are instantly recognizable from the second they start playing (think My Sharona, The Middle or Crazy In Love) and Love At First Sight has some of the most iconic opening chords in pop history.  The Herald Sun described it at the time as having a chorus so big you could land a plane on it and that’s probably the truest statement a music journalist has ever made.  Literally every single second of this song is perfect.  PERFECT.

 

05. ALL THE LOVERS

Year of Release – 2010
Album – Aphrodite
Australian Chart Peak – 13
UK Chart Peak – 3
Type of Kylie – Warm and Wistful Earth Mother Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – The way the opening “DANCE..” is delivered with the kind of omniscient insistence normally reserved for God giving the Ten Commandments.

Remember those glorious few weeks back in 2010, right after All The Lovers first leaked, but before it’s underwhelming parent album had?  Those were good times – full of hope and optimism and that sweet sense of relief that Kylie, Our Kylie, was well and truly BACK where she belonged, both in the charts and in our hearts..  Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, and even if her heart was in the right place, the ensuing material was more hit and miss than Brandy behind a steering wheel.  Which is a right shame as All The Lovers is just spectacular on so many, many levels.  Mature, warm and universal, it pulls off one of the most difficult tricks in pop by managing to be both ready made for dancefloors everywhere whilst sounding completely tender and intimate at the same time.  It allows the listener to both lose themselves and yet feel completely connected to the world around them – it’s pure, joyous, euphoric dance music at it’s absolute best, and the kind of crowning glory a 20+ year career this good deserves.

 

04. CONFIDE IN ME

Year of Release – 1994
Album – Kylie Minogue
Australian Chart Peak – 1
UK Chart Peak – 2
Type of Kylie – Game Changing Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – THAT final note.  Not only had Our Kylie growed up, but damn if she didn’t have a serious set of pipes there too..

When we say this was ‘Game Changing Kylie’, we’re really not kidding around.  While the previous album may have introduced post-pubescent hormones to the famous Minogue Music Mix, it wasn’t until this elegant Middle Eastern-tinged stunner meandered along that the general public were finally able to accept that Kylie really wasn’t in Kansas anymore.  An arresting mix of lush house-pop and Bjork-like opulence, it STILL sounds as ahead of its time, even two decades on.  The way the strings bounce off the drum n bass backing track is simply hypnotic, especially combined with the enticing way the vocals manage to be somehow both coquettish and knowing.  Simply put, Confide In Me is adult pop at it’s absolute finest, and not one person in the world out there with an open mind and a functioning set of ears will ever honestly disagree with you.  STUNNING.

 

03. HAND ON YOUR HEART

Year of Release – 1989
Album – Enjoy Yourself
Australian Chart Peak – 4
UK Chart Peak – 1
Type of Kylie – Pure Pop Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – The “I WANNA HEAR YOU TELL ME YOU DON’T WANT MY LOVE” mini-bridge.  Actually, the way the end of each chorus trails off in those magical “…that we’re through-OOOOH-OOOOH-OHHH-OH-OHHH-OH’s“.  ACTUALLY, pretty much the whole damned chorus.  Yeah, THAT.

And now we’re really getting down to the pointy end of the stick at this!   With her soap opera contract finished and her first full album firmly under her magically colour-changing belt, we finally got to see what Kylie The Popstar could really do.  And what a difference some extra care, attention and vocal coaching made.  Pure Bubblegum Pop at it’s top shelf finest, Hand On Your Heart is all fizzy champagne and Hershey Kisses – the first real sign the previous album wasn’t a fluke and we were indeed looking at the arrival of a bona fide POP SUPERSTAR.  The song is a right corker too, yearningly earnest and effervescent in the way that only the best pop songs are.  And the video is adorable and downright winning – there’s an embarrassing anecdote about how seven year old Glenn was convinced that Kylie MUST have been made of magic after seeing this.  BECAUSE HOW ELSE could someone so quickly change the colour of their outfit every ten seconds while the cameras were still rolling.  Of course, between the Cadbury Crunchie adverts and Phil Collins’s seminal Two Hearts clip, it’s safe to assume the late eighties were a very confusing time for Young Glenn all over…

 

02. TOO FAR

Year of Release – 1997
Album – Impossible Princess
Australian Chart Peak – N/A
UK Chart Peak – N/A
Type of Kylie – The Madness Of Queen Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – Every. Single. Damned. Word.

There are a lot of timelines where this Impossible Princess album track is a clear #1 on this countdown.  Heck, we still might even put it there in this one.  Honestly – it’d be hard to argue with it’s placement, both from a critical and a creative standpoint.  In the history of all things Minogue, this is the only song that Kylie wrote all by herself.  And we’ll be damned if it isn’t all the more amazing for it. A lot of popstars are instantly ripped to shreds the second they dare try to have some real creative involvement in their own work.  And maybe if you’re playing the odds then that’s a fair assumption to make, but good luck finding a popstar who sounds more thrillingly and vitally engaged than Minogue does on this arresting album opener.  Spitting out confused and manic stream of consciousness-style questions with the urgency of a woman teetering on the brink of insanity, it swirls ever quicker into a whirlwind of icily escalating beats – but instead of coming across as pretentious, it gives the clear impression of being the most insightful and purely honest moment of Minogue’s career.  The lyrics are nothing short of a revelation too – considering they’re better than anything she’s sourced from others before or since, it really makes the fact she so often shies away from songwriting all the more disappointing.  We used to play this in the car to our more NME-inclined mates and, without fail, they would all marvel at how masterful it all was.  Until they found out it was Kylie anyway.  Which is pretty much everything that’s wrong with the world, when you think about it..

 

01. BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

Year of Release – 1990
Album – Rhythm Of Love
Australian Chart Peak – 4
UK Chart Peak – 2
Type of Kylie – Defiant and Desperate Princess Of Pop Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – THAT CHORUS.  THOSE VOCALS.  And the fact that you can seamlessly change the hook to “Better Than Dannii Minogue” whenever you’re singing along on the dancefloor after a few pints..

AND HERE WE HAVE IT FOLKS – THE GREATEST KYLIE SONG OF ALL TIME.  Heck, why stop there?  If you were objectively trying to put together a definitive list of the best modern pop songs ever, this little skyscraping slice of dance-pop is up there with Crazy In Love or Bad Romance as a certified stone cold classic.  Significant at the time for being a major change in direction sonically, it was the first time most of the public realised that their beloved squeaky clean girl next door had a little bit of rock star in her.  Literally.  Nowadays, it’s place in pop history is even more important – it’s an essential modern classic, the perfect mix of thumping beats and an anthemic chorus that distracts you from how unapologetically desperate and sad the lyrics and the vocals are.  Like Lovefool by The Cardigans or Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark (or pretty much every single song Robyn has done, ever) – it’s bright, shiny ‘Crying At The Discotheque’ power-pop at it’s best.  AMAZING.  SO SO SO AMAZING.

 

So there you have it Kids – the 27 Best Kylie Songs of All Time.  What did you think?  Any glaring omissions?  We have to say – cutting it down to just 27 proved to be MUCH HARDER than we originally anticipated.  Let us know if you think there are any egregious absences below or, even better, if there’s any amazing slices of antipodean pop that you only discovered by reading this!

kylie speakers minidress

 

AS A TREAT, here are a handful of the last few songs that got cut at the last hurdle (click on the names for the videos) :-

TAKE ME WITH YOU A sexily meandering trip-hop opus that manages to be quite possibly the coolest thing Kylie’s ever done, all the while sounding like a nine and a half minute K-fuelled orgasm.  Pun intended.

NO MORE RAIN If most of X sounded like Minogue trying too hard to avoid the Cancer Elephant in the room, this delightfully sunny and  uplifting pop romp provided a much needed touch of humanity to an aloof and oft unengaging album.

LES SEX Take the Sexercise video and set it to this sultry, knowing corker instead and you basically have the perfect cheeky and sexy buzz single that the Kiss Me Once campaign so direly needed.

GET OUTTA MY WAY A sparkly, anthemic slice of synthy dancefloor ready pop that, when freed of it’s strangely lifeless and energy-draining video, really shines (shine shines).

MADE OF GLASS A skittering and pulsating dayclub anthem that proved so popular as a B-side that it got bumped up to radio in Australia.  Sonically, it’s the bright and cheery long lost twin to Dannii’s I Begin To Wonder, which is pretty much the highest compliment you can pay anything, ever.

SLOW  If you’re going to throw all your newly gained worldwide goodwill down the toilet by choosing to make a commercially risky creative statement, it helps if said statement is as bonafide AMAZING as this minimalistic slab of hypnotically sexy electro-pop.  While the release remains essentially the ‘Erotica’ moment of Kylie’s career (in more ways than one), the video might just be the best non-Did It Again one she’s ever done.

LIGHT YEARS – A modern day re-imagining of Donna Summer’s seminal I Feel Love, this icy and futuristic disco anthem is just as sexy and thrilling now as it was over a decade ago.  And the “Ladies and Gentlemen – My name is Kylie, I’ll be your Purser…” bit might just be the greatest spoken word moment in the history of pop.

I FEEL FOR YOU If Body Language was a bit like Kylie being a Jack Of All Trades, then this refreshing, summery number makes a strong case that effervescent, loungy retro-pop might just be THE trade that Miss Minogue should well consider focussing on being a Master of…

MR PRESIDENT The kind of song that God invented the concept of Bonus Tracks for, this Kiss Me Once deluxe edition inclusion is ABSOLUTELY FUCKING BONKERS in the best possible way.   Imagine Marilyn Monroe having an E-fuelled orgy in a recording studio and you’re not far off the mark..

CHOCOLATE A lush, luxurious mid-tempo R&B pop number that languidly floats by on a sea of dreamy synths as it subtly lodges itself firmly into the back of your brain and never lets go.

WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO If Better The Devil You Know was the first hint that everyone’s favorite Girl Next Door was growing up, this turbo-charged pop stormer was delivered with such conviction that her status as a bona fide adult pop star was well and truly cemented.  Still as taut and fresh 25 years on as Kylie’s face itself. it’s home to some of the strongest songwriting of Stock Aiken Waterman’s career.

SO NOW GOODBYE – So good that it actually makes the idea of a Seventies Disco revival almost *shudders* palatable.  And, considering Seventies Disco is basically THE WORST IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD, that is high praise indeed..

BETTER THAN TODAY – A bouncy, unaffected call to arms (or, to feet rather) that reads as much as a modern day Team Minogue mission statement as anything she’s ever done – “what’s the point of living if you don’t want to dance?”.  Indeed Dear Readers, INDEED.

kylie do the locomotion with me

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

Kylie kiss me once banner

 

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. ingryd permalink
    May 31, 2014 8:18 pm

    Such a good read! I agree with basically everything from this post bar the fact that I actually really enjoy “Feels So Good” and “Dreams” not being mentioned though I might be biased because the reason I love this track so much is deeply personal and the album version isn’t nearly as magical as the Showgirl Homecoming one.

    That being said, this list is so bittersweet! She’s had some amazing material that have never being properly recognized and some didn’t even saw the ~released~ light. But ever the optimistic I have high hopes for future projects. Thank you for taking your time to write this, all those comments were extremely spot on and I even caught myself quoting a few to some friends.

  2. May 31, 2014 9:53 pm

    Such a good read! Enjoyed seeing my favorites here. The only one missing for me was the mention of “Dreams” but everything else was spot on. It’s so bittersweet, though, how some of her best songs weren’t treated properly and other weren’t treated at all.

    Always the optimist, I have hopes for the next project. Thank you for putting your time into making a very good list.

  3. Katie permalink
    June 3, 2014 9:14 pm

    What a lovely treat this article is. So wonderfully written and it was great to be reminded of such a lot of excellent Kylie tracks.
    For the record, the only one I disagree with is Kids..can’t stand that song.
    But everything else – great call a wonderful reminder of how special, diverse and talented Kylie is. ♥

  4. June 4, 2014 11:32 am

    Awww shucks! Yeah, pardon the pun, but I was a little shocked by how hard it was to keep it under 27 (+13) Tracks. I’ve always had a healthy respect for her material, but it definitely deepened my appreciation. Although, on the flipside, it kind of made me a little more angry, both as a Kylie fan and a fan of good music in general, that so many b-sides, unreleased and album tracks have been squandered over the years. Such a shame that some of her best material has never been given the chance to be heard by a proper audience.

    100% correct r/e Dreams btw! That and Sensitized are probably the only two songs I kind of regret not featuring. My original shortlist I culled it to was a Top 54, and they were both in that. I think with the former I was nervous about the whole piece just becoming a giant Impossible Princess-athon, as Limbo, Jump, Breathe and Drunk all deserve serious props.

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