Breathe (K Minogue/D Ball/I Yauk) and Cowboy Style (K Minogue/ D Seaman/ S Anderson) and GBI (German Bold Italic) (T Tei/ K Minogue) – Kylie Minogue 1998
The album originally entitled Impossible Princess, after Billy Childish’s book of poems called Poems To Break the Hearts of Impossible Princesses, had been re-titled simply Kylie Minogue, following the death of Princess Diana. But before its release a third track, Breathe was pre-released, it was a sultry, seductive, slice of electronica, which cleverly merged a subtly hypnotic, shimmering melody, with a catchy pop chorus. Kylie wrote the lyrics whilst in Japan with Stephane Sednaoui, and it would be her last record for DeConstruction/BMG. The sonic impact of Breathe has been compared to two other Minogue songs – Put Yourself In My Place and Say Hey – and Kylie’s introspective lyrics about personal contemplation and calmness, were impressive, “This time, this void/ I’m making my way through the muddy minutes/ The pull is in my muscle/ The ache is in my bones/ It’s hard to be alone/Breathe, breathe, it won’t be long now.”
The record climbed to UK #14 and #23 Aust but exited the charts after only four weeks, the promo video presented Kylie floating through a psychedelic 2001: A Space Odyssey dream in a surreal trancelike state. But the continued lack of success of her last three singles had dented the diva’s confidence, and in an interview with British Cosmopolitan in 1998, she mused on her creative longevity “I’ve tried to imagine what it will be like when no one cares who I am any more, and it’s quite scary.”
Cowboy Style was the final single released from Minogue’s sixth album and it was inspired by her new relationship with Stephane Sednaoui, as at her first meeting with him she recalled he looked “unusual”, and felt like he was “the new cowboy coming into town”. Kylie and Stephane below.
It was co-composed by Kylie and the Rhythm Brothers and merged guitars, synthesisers, a fiddle, a string quartet and percussion, to produce a Celtic pop track with a C&W ambience, that critics liked but left her fans confused, it charted #63 in the UK and #50 in Aust. The music video was taped at a sound check at one of the Intimate and Live Tour shows in June 1998, the artwork for the record featured Kylie resplendent in leather bra and a cowboy hat, but the fans were still trying to figure out which Kylie was going to appear next.
They didn’t have to wait too long when the diva transformed herself into a typeface, GBI (German Bold Italic) with her next release, “My name is German Bold Italic/ I am a typeface which you have never heard of before…”. The song was a collaboration with Japanese artist/musician Towa Tei, who had a global hit as part of the dance group Deee-Lite with the song Groove is in The Heart in 1990.
GBI opens with a sample from the introduction track on the album the Art of Belly Dancing, and is a minimalist house-techno song with lyrics that portray Minogue as a typeface, with her vocals performed in a facetious, whimsical style, it was regarded as the most avant garde, quirky thing Minogue had ever done, Kylie as a German typeface but dressed up like a Japanese geisha, really startled her fans. The promo video, directed by Sednaoui was equally off-kilter and tongue-in-cheek, both Minogue and Sednaoui were fans of anime and were inspired by a mutual appreciation of Japanese culture, to create a visual combination of “a geisha and manga superheroine”, which was Kylie’s new persona – this was a long way from I Should Be So Lucky.
A low budget video was shot in New York and opens with Minogue in a bathtub, wearing a red bikini and a geisha headdress, as she sings “You will like my style”, the camera then follows her, in full geisha regalia, into the streets, and towards the climax of the video Minogue is leashed and lead around, in bondage-style, by a Japanese man, it charted #63 in the UK and #50 in Australia. The album staggered to global sales of 150,000, to bring the curtain down on the most commercially unsuccessful phase of Kylie’s career, but one that was also applauded for its experimentation and risk-taking, with songs that would resonate in future albums, that would also see a more confident, self-possessed Kylie dominate the charts in the new millennium.