In 2012 Kylie was celebrating 25 years in the music business, and would again hook up with songwriter Karen Poole, who had already written three hits for Minogue between 1997-2001– Red-Blooded Woman, Chocolate, and Wow, and in collaboration with Israeli-born electronica producer Matt Schwartz of the duo Deepest Blue, and Paul Harris of the house trio Dirty Vegas, they would provide Kylie with one of her most impressive songs. Timebomb incorporated elements of synthpop, disco and electropop, and though some critics claimed it was just Kylie channeling Britney Spears, it was much darker, and overtly sexy than that “we’re on a timebomb/ we might not last long/ so let’s do it right now.” It flagged a return to the seductive minimalism that had made Can’t Get You Out of My Head such a disco-banger despite the lyrics being pretty predictable, about dancing and enjoying oneself, before it was too late. It was a clubland hit, #1 on the Dance Charts of US and Aust, and #31 in the UK.
The Christian Larson-directed video was shot in London’s Soho area, and the camera follows Kylie as she leaves a photoshoot studio and walks out into the street, wearing a jacket with a ban the bomb symbol on the back and a heart motif on the front, and denim hot pants. She struts down Old Compton street, as she sings the song, turns into several alleyways, collides with a guy carrying a boombox, “borrows” a mobile phone from a café table and takes a selfie, climbs into a car with a male driver and travels through London. She meets fans who high five her from a passing car, and the clip concludes with Kylie removing her jacket to reveal a provocative black mini dress, cavorting with a motorcyclist, and disappearing into the night, it was just another day in the life of the diva.
In January 2013 Kylie amicably parted from her manager of 25 years Terry Blamey (above with Kylie), and was signed to Roc Nation management soon after, she had commenced work on her 12th studio album, Kiss Me Once, executive co-produced by Kylie and fellow Aussie Sia Furler, from which the euphoric dance-floor hit Into the Blue was pre-released in January 2014. Co-penned by LA songwriter Kelly Sheehan who had already written hits for Rita Ora, Nicky Minaj, and Karmin, the song merged synths, keyboards, and strings in a potent mix that had hooks to burn and not one but two choruses. Lyrically it celebrated being independent, feisty, defiant, and enjoying the freedom that disentangling from relationships can bring, “When I got my back up against the wall, don’t need no one to rescue me/’Cause I ain’t waiting up for no miracle, yeah tonight I’m running free.”
2013 was definitely a year of change for Minogue, in addition to replacing her long-term manager, she would also end her relationship with Andres Velencosa. Kylie met the Spanish model in 2008 at a photo shoot for the launch of her latest Coty perfume Showtime, they dated for five years but ended their relationship in 2013, citing conflicting work schedules as the reason behind the split. As many of Kylie’s previous partners discovered she is a highly ambitious and driven individual who is wary of commitment to marriage, so once Kylie accepted a role as a coach on the British version of The Voice, the pressure on their long-distance relationship proved to be intolerable. In 2015 Kylie would hook up with British actor Joshua Sasse and they would become briefly engaged. Below L-R – Kylie and Velencoso, UK tabloid headlines, Kylie and Sasse.
The video for Into the Blue featured Kylie partying and walking down the street with her on-screen boyfriend, French actor Clement Sibony, as well as some more intimate, yet tasteful, bedroom scenes. The song topped the US Dance charts, was #12 in the UK, #3 in Japan, and top 40 throughout Europe for a moderate hit, while the album did a lot better, charting #1 in Aust, #2 UK, #3 US Dance charts, and top 10 in nine European countries.
But clearly Minogue was prepared to make changes at this time in her career, she was disappointed in the global performance of her 12th album Kiss Me Once, and the failure of the second single lifted from it, the Pharrel Williams composition, I Was Gonna Cancel, she flagged her intentions to change labels, citing “artistic differences” with Parlophone, and switched over to BMG /Mushroom in 2017.
Change is something that Kylie has conscientiously embraced throughout her career, and she has worked her way through a history of female archetypes over the past thirty years. After she disposed of Charlene from Neighbours and binned those baggy dungarees, she pretty soon shimmied into a pair of gold lamé hot pants which rode up when she danced and, to the alarm of her stylists and the delight of everyone else, threatened to slide irretrievably into the cleft of her bum.
She preened in cashmere and pearls like Grace Kelly, but she also pouted like Monroe and flipped up her skimpy skirt like the tennis player in the ‘Athena’ calendar; she pretended to be a galactic courtesan like Jane Fonda’s Barbarella, or messed up her hair and wore a stripey crop top to make herself look feral and lustful like Bardot.
Photographer Stephane Sednaoui, her lover for a while, dressed her as a geisha with a pin-cushion on her head, which officially transformed her into a sex toy. At the same time she butched up in army fatigues for the film Street Fighter, a woeful spin-off from an arcade game in which she unconvincingly did battle with Jean-Claude Van Damme, let’s face it, her paramilitary swaggering at just over five feet tall, would fail to daunt the steroid-boosted Belgian. For the video of Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, she was swathed in a white hooded shroud with slits up the legs; this, seemed to evoke the whole Madonna/whore fascination, although the immaculate Kylie was also a “modern Venus”, a pagan Aphrodite who wrapped her thighs around a pole as she cavorted.
Kylie has been masterful at changing her image, she is a chameleon, a flirt, a tease, who cleverly subjugates the real person behind a kaleidoscope of intriguing personas and avatars, in short, and no pun intended, she is The Mysterious Diva Next Door.