What Do I Have to Do (Stock/Aitken/Waterman) and Shocked (Stock/Aitken/Waterman) and Word Is Out (Stock/Waterman) – Kylie Minogue 1991
In November 1990 Kylie released Rhythm of Love, her third studio album which provided further evidence that she was taking greater artistic control over her output, having co-composed four of the eleven tracks and working with producers other than SAW including Stephen Bray (Madonna) below left, and KC Cohen (Paula Abdul, Seal, Prince) below right, this would be a period of further transition for Kylie as she matured as a performer and sought greater autonomy than was previously permitted within the Hit Factory.
What Do I Have to Do was a punchy slice of contemporary European dance grooves with a rave sound sensibility, and in the vein of Better the Devil You Know, it was the first Kylie single to fail to get a UK top 5 placing, coming in at #6 there and #11 locally.
There was dissension over the image changes that were being wrought by Kylie, her younger fans were now seeing Kylie appearing in a promo video paying homage to such cinema sex kittens as Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, and Elizabeth Taylor while modelling a succession of revealing Thierry Mugler outfits, sporting a fake tattoo of a panther on her left shoulder, getting close and personal with a beautiful female model, and doing the ironing in a saucy French maid’s outfit. The tweenie fans were really getting confused! Little sister Danii also made a guest appearance in the clip, but this did not allay tabloid speculation that Danii was jealous of her big sister, and that there was acrimonious sibling rivalry.
Shocked was the last single lifted from the Rhythm of Love album and it represented a significant shift in style and sound from any other record by Kylie during her tenure with SAW. The album version of this song featured a 90-second instrumental intro, gradually building to a disco-inflected crescendo, pounding keyboards and fuzz tone guitar, all superbly mixed by Peter Hammond of SAW.
The single version of the same song was radically re-imagined by Australian production duo David Musumeci and Anthony Egizii (above), better known as DNA; this was the first time that PWL had allowed external remixers to collaborate on a SAW record. DNA increased the tempo, added a rap insert by Jazzy P (aka Pauline Bennett) and applied layers of multi-tracking to produce sumptuous dance grooves and a genuine clubland hit. The promo clip was voyeuristic, pervy, and even exploitive, with Kylie being spied on through a keyhole as she changes into ever-more revealing costumes- ostrich feathers, leather hot pants and bra, and a gingham bikini. Shocked was record-breaking becoming the first time that any artist had taken their first thirteen singles into the UK top ten, over the same journey Kylie had taken ten singles into the Australian top ten, the album Rhythm of Love was also a global hit, selling three million copies.
By May 1990 the all-conquering Stock Aitken and Waterman empire was crumbling, vicious press articles which criticized their musical relevance and originality, allied with a falling out between Mike Aitken and Pete Waterman, meant that the Hit Factory’s era of dominance was over. In a move which surprised many Kylie’s next release, Word Is Out headed away from the clubland groove genre in a more sexy, jazzy, direction, with “new jack swing” arrangements, a hybrid of R&B and hip hop a la Bobby Brown, but the fans gave it the thumbs down, when it stalled at #16 in the UK. The promo clip was deemed by some to be sleazy, as it depicted Minogue as a streetwalker, in a see-through black lace outfit and suspenders, albeit dancing in the ghetto (actually Camden markets) with several black guys, and also featured Davina McCall, Kylie’s beret -wearing bestie, who would become well-known as a UK TV presenter and compere of Big Brother.
By 1991 Kylie had ended her relationship with Hutchence, in the recent documentary about the INXS front man called Mystify, she admitted that he was “a dark bad boy, I was a pure good girl… he was a sensual being who sought stimulation in all things – sex, love, food, drugs, music, travel, literature, you name it, he wanted to experience it” she said. Speaking on A Current Affair in 2014, seventeen years after Hutchence untimely death, she said that Michael “took the blinkers (off her) … and definitely awakened my desire for things in the world. “Even when it was slightly on the wild side, he was always very tender with me. I was a precious little thing to him so amongst the headiness, it was always very sweet.”After flying from Japan to New York to meet him, Minogue ended the relationship with Hutchence, yet even today she is unsure why the split happened “Was it work, was it the drugs? I don’t know. He was like a broken man,” she mused.
In 1991 Kylie was on the rebound from Michael Hutchence and rock singer Lenny Kravitz had recently divorced his first wife Lisa Bonet, they were an item briefly (above) and ended their time together amicably, Lenny would later romance another Australian, actress Nicole Kidman in 2003-04, and they would be briefly engaged. Thirty years after their original fling in 1991, Kylie and Lenny would join a Radio 2 All Stars lineup including Cher, Robbie Williams, and Chic’s Nile Rodgers, and others to record a charity cover of Oasis’ Stop Crying Your Heart Out to raise funds for the For A Child in Need foundation.