Dancing (K Minogue/ N Chapman/ S McEwan) and Music’s Too Sad Without You (K Minogue/ J Savoretti/ S Dixon) – Kylie Minogue 2018
Kylie’s thirteenth studio album was her first Yuletide release, 2015’s Kylie Christmas, which was a seasonal hit on which her version of Santa Baby was popular and notched up 100 million streams on Spotify. She duetted with sister Dannii on 100 Degrees and Josh Groban on Only You, which had been an earlier hit for Yazoo in 1982, and was also brilliantly covered in an a cappella version by the UK’s Flying Pickets in 1983. The next year she followed up with yet another seasonal release, Kylie Christmas Snowqueen, which charted poorly and there seemed to be a lack of direction about Kylie’s musical future at this time.
The disco and dance club grooves of her past hits seemed to be mired in a blizzard of snow, tinsel and yuletide kitchiness from her two previous albums, Kylie was literally trapped inside a seasonal snow globe, but she did find time to co-star in the local movie Swinging Safari, which was released in January 2018. A dramedy starring Guy Pearce, Kylie, Julian McMahon, Rahda Mitchell, Asher Keddie, and Jack Thompson, written and directed by Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) and it good-naturedly spoofed life in Australian suburbia of the 1970’s. The plot pivoted around the inter-connected lives of three neighbours , the Hall, Jones and Marsh families of Dee Why (Syd), and it was described as “a love letter to a world of careless parenting, constant sunburn, and unsupervised activities”, it did minor business locally, before heading to video.
It would be four years after 2014’s Kiss Me Once, before Kylie would re-discover her musical mojo, and at the age of fifty, re-invent herself yet again, and return to chart domination with 2018’s album Golden.
Recorded in London, LA and Nashville, the album was a clever fusion of country pop, electronica and dance-pop, All Music’s Tim Sendra described the album as bold, stating “The amazing thing about Minogue, is that she pulls off country as well as she’s pulled off new wave, disco, electro, murder ballads, and everything else she’s done in her long career.” The abum required an army of producers, no less than twelve, and an additional six songwriters, including Minogue as a co-writer on all twelve tracks, to bring Golden to fruition. Since the 1980’s and 90’s the producer has increasingly become the dominant creative force in popular music, led by the algorithm-obsessed Cheiron hitmakers, they made the studio and its technology their instrument, and established an assembly-line for ultra-glossy, hook-heavy hits for the likes of Madonna, Backstreet Boys, Christine Aguilera, Sugababes and others. The rationale behind using numerous producers was to increase competition amongst them to secure the #1 track on an album, and so lift the overall quality of all the songs, and the number of potential hits. Producers increasingly sought their share of song-writing royalties, and so did the singers who quickly got involved in writing lyrics, and gave rise to the cynical put-down “a third for a word”, which often described the exaggerated claims singers made about the importance of their often puny contributions to the creative process.
The first single taken off the album was Dancing which merged acoustic country guitar and techno beats, as Kylie literally traded her disco shoes for cowgirl boots, but once the huge pop chorus kicked in, she swung through a Nashville dancefloor arrangement that invited glittery line-dance participation. She described this song thus: “You’ve got the lyrical edge, that Country feel, mixed with some sampling of the voice and electronic elements … it’s immediately accessible but there is depth to the song.” Lyrically she was right, underneath the fun and vibe of the dancefloor beat the topic of mortality is touched on, “I want to go out dancing…” The music video for the song was overwhelmingly celebratory, and imagined Kylie as a Dolly Parton-style performer on the set of the zombie classic The Day of the Dead, she managed to impart just the right amount of Dolly’s “aw shucks” syrup to her Nashville accent, and in the end joined the Grim Reaper in a twirl around the floor. It was a minor hit for Kylie charting #46 in Aust, #38 UK and #1 on the US Dance Charts, and her fanbase were no longer enthusiastically embracing her singles but instead opting to acquire her albums, as they did with Golden when it climbed to #1 in Aust and UK and top ten in nine other countries.
The last song lifted off the album was the plaintive country-tinged ballad Music’s Too Sad Without You, a song that her labelmate Jack Savoretti had suggested they record together, but Kylie initially found it depressing and demurred about recording it. Some have suggested that she still had painful memories of her late friend Michael Hutchence, and found the lyrics of the opening verse and chorus a little too close to home “I know what you were feeling/When you played me that song/Gave every word meaning/You showed me a place we belonged…”. Below Kylie and Jack Savoretti.
But she was also feeling reflective and determined to invest the song with a warmth and tenderness that wasn’t immediately obvious on many of her up tempo hits. Minogue and Savoretti ultimately co-wrote the song with Sam Dixon, and the music video was shot inside the beautiful Teatro La Fenice, in Venice, for one of Minogue’s most affecting and under-rated ballads.
Despite being “married off” by the UK tabloids several times in the past it was British actor Joshua Sasse who first succeeded in becoming officially engaged to Kylie. They first met in 2015 and announced their engagement on February 20, 2016, he gushed about Kylie and their relationship publicly and commented that “now I won’t have any trouble getting into parties”. But Kylie was having second thoughts, the tabloids were warning her that Sasse was having an affair with Spanish actress Marta Milans, and by February 2017 the couple had ended their relationship. Kylie claimed to be distressed and headed for Thailand to “reclaim herself” and “get strong”. She also commented that she was a practical girl and it would be business as usual very soon, further reinforcing her public image as an ambitious, career-focused, perfectionist with a marriage-commitment phobia, who possessed a steeliness of resolve beneath the gloss and vulnerability of her carefully-curated public image. Below L-R – Kylie and Joshua Sasse, Tabloid Headlines After The Split, Kylie and New Squeeze Paul Solomons.