KYLIE MINOGUE 1987 – 2020 PART 1.

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Got to Be Certain (Stock/Aitken/Waterman) and I Still Love You (Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi) (Stock/Aitken/Waterman) – Kylie Minogue 1988

Got to Be Certain was the follow up to Locomotion and I Should Be So Lucky, and was lifted off Minogue’s debut album Kylie, recorded in her home town Melbourne. The song is typical Stock, Aitken, Waterman dance-pop and had been written by SAW in 1987 and already recorded by one of Kylie’s SAW stablemates, British tabloid favorite and Rolling Stone Bill Wyman’s teenage squeeze, and soon -to-be-wife, Mandy Smith (below with Wyman), but this version hadn’t been released, so it became Kylie’s follow up single.

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Got to Be Certain ticked all the boxes for a SAW single, dominant bassline, catchy keyboard riffs and chorus, an upbeat song which had a more sombre message on a closer inspection of the lyrics –“I’ve got to be, got to be certain/ I’ve got to be so sure/I’ve had my share of hearts broken/And I don’t wanna take that any more…” Got to Be Certain was recorded at Alan Eaton Studios & RBX Studios (Melb), it charted #1 in Aust for three weeks, and #1 in four other European countries, as well as #2 in the UK, with global sales in excess of one million, so continuing Kylie’s remarkably successful invasion of the British and continental markets. The promo video was shot in Melbourne and features Kylie walking along the Yarra river, atop the T&G (now KPMG) building in Collins St, on a Luna Park carousel and in a coffee shop.

Melbourne in the 1980’s, scenes of the city skyline, St. Kilda Pier, even the old wooden grandstands at the MCG visible in the shot, a guided tour of her hometown by the pocket rocket herself.

The Kylie album was charting strongly, and another single was lifted from it – I Still Love You (Je Ne Sais Pas Pour Quoi) which was a #2 hit in the UK and #11 locally.

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Gallic-flavored songs were not common on charts outside of France with the exception of the erotica of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg’s Je t’aime…mon non plus, the raunchy Lady Marmalade with its sexy come-on refrain “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir”, and the more sedate observation of Paul McCartney’s Michelle- “Michelle, ma belle/Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble/Tres bien ensemble…”.

But Kylie certainly added to this collection with I Still Love You – and the translation “I still love you, I don’t know why,” in parentheses, cleared up any possible language issues. The song was more downbeat and reflective than her previous hits, her unrequited love for an unfaithful guy glides along smoothly until the hooky chorus which begins with the words “I’m wondering why” repeated three times, it was only denied the top spot in the UK by Enya’s Orinoco Flow.

“Rain falling down/ Another minute passes by/ I’ll wait for you/ But this time I won’t cry…” The song digressed from the SAW one-size-fits-all formula, and aspired to something altogether more subtle, it cleverly melded various musical influences, 40’s-style backup vocals, Italian bass lines, funky/pop guitars with a basic rock beat, overlaid with clean 1980’s synth lines, sure it was formulaic pop, but uber catchy and very sexy.

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Complementing the continental flavor of the song, the promo video, directed by Aussie Chris Langman, who had worked with Kylie on The Henderson Kids, depicted Kylie being stood up on a rainy Parisian street, and cautioned by a local woman not to trust tardy blokes. Kylie then joined a mystery man for a romantic dance, in an homage to Robert Doisneau’s famous 1949 photograph of a couple dancing on Bastille Day (original photo above); although stage bound, the video had an authentic location ambience about it. 

At this time Kylie was becoming well-entrenched inside the SAW network, she compared it to working on NeighboursLearn your lines, red light on, perform lines, no time for questions, promote the product et voila.!” Stock and Aitken now realized she was their biggest star, as Mike Stock enthused “I love working with her because she has a terrific sense of humor, a fabulous personality and she really knows how to sell a song.”

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After the album hit #1 in the UK (it peaked at #2 locally), Kylie became the youngest female artist to have a number one album and with sales of 1.8 million, the biggest -selling debut album by a female in the UK.

Early attempts to break Minogue in the US at this time were hindered by the fact that SAW had negotiated superior distribution deals with European and Asian markets where they could earn twice as much per unit sold than in the US, so they tended to steer their artists, including Kylie, away from the huge American market, in a myopic strategy focused on short-term success, which would hamper Minogue’s long-term chart prospects Stateside. 

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