Can’t Get You Out of My Head (C Dennis/R Davis) – Kylie Minogue 2001
Kylie Minogue had struggled through the mid-nineties as she sought to re-invent herself as a more mature, sophisticated, and sleekly sexy performer outside the artistic confines of the Stock, Aitken, Waterman hit factory.
After all, she had very convincingly played the innocent wide-eyed ingenue on so many of their hit songs, but now she was looking for a new direction, a record that would re-define her public persona and raise her to the status of iconic pop queen. She was about to make that record.
Norwich (UK)-born singer Cathy Dennis had started out as a member of dance-act D Mob who had several minor hits before Dennis went solo and scored with her first release, a cover of Fonda Rae’s Touch Me (All Night Long) (UK #5 and US #2), she enjoyed considerable success with another dozen self-penned hits in the UK.
She moved into songwriting full-time in 1998 and immediately wrote Two in A Million (#2 UK) a hit for S Club 7. Her co-composer of Can’t Get You Out of My Head was former Mud guitarist Rob Davis who had written Groovejet for Sophie-Ellis Bextor in 2000 (UK #1).
Both Davis and Dennis were managed by Simon Fuller, who suggested that they work together to produce songs for several groups which Fuller managed at the time – S Club 7 and the Spice Girls.
Dennis voiced the original demo of Can’t Get You Out of My Head, but remained unconvinced of its hit potential, so did Simon Fuller, who rejected it as a possible release for S Club 7.
Famously both Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Jimmy Somerville (ex-Communards) also turned it down, Dennis took the demo to Parlophone and played it to Minogue, 20 seconds in, Kylie asked when could she record it. Minogue is on record as having said of that moment “I knew this song and I were meant to be together … It was a moment in my career when everything seemed to be strong, directional, harmonious and it all revolved round this one epic tune. To this day I am thankful.”
The song is about obsessive love, and yet Minogue’s vocals are restrained, even demure, and these conflicting signals raise the unresolved sexual tension of the song “I can’t get you out of my head / La la la/La la la la la”, is the chorus and it’s the first lyrics you hear, the pulsing bass line is insistent, the undulating keyboards propel the simple melody, Kylie’s vocals are breezy almost coquettish and the infectious hooks never stop.
The promo video of Minogue dancing in a revealing hooded jumpsuit which is virginally white, further reinforced the duality of the song’s intent – Kylie is both lustful and restrained, teasing and unavailable, playful, and controlled, she may be infatuated with the unidentified object of her affection, but physical engagement will be on her terms.
A danceable, timeless, perfectly constructed pop classic, which was influenced by ELO’s Can’t Get It Out of My Head (1974), musically it ticked all the boxes, the keyboards and electric guitar of Rob Davis merge seamlessly, in a song where the debauched disco of Donna Summer’s Love to Love You Baby, meets the robotic, metronomic, Teutonic precision of Kraftwerk.
It was #1 in 40 countries, provided a second top ten hit in the USA for Minogue, won numerous industry awards, including the ARIA for Song of the Year in 2002, sold six million copies worldwide and pushed her album Fever to platinum status and international sales of seven million copies. In a year when there were no less than thirty-one #1 hits in the UK, Kylie’s addictive dance hit, positively dominated, holding down the top spot for four weeks.
Minogue would now be known by her first name only, Kylie had become an iconic pop queen, like Madonna, Janet, Tina, Britney, Diana, and Cher.