Kiss, Kiss (S Aksu/J Jaimes/S Welton-Jaimes) and Down Boy (R Davis) and Naughty Girl (G Black/C Costi/ D Ffrench/ B Taliaferro) – Holly Valance 2002
Holly Rachel Vukadinovic (1983), known professionally as Holly Valance, was born and grew up in Fitzroy (Melb), her father Rajko was a Serbian pianist and male model, and her mother Rachel Stephens was also a model, of British/Spanish descent; no surprises then that by the age of 14 young Holly was a very successful teenage model herself, charging $200 per hour for assignments, but her parents would divorce in 1986. Below L-R – Holly at 14, parents Rajko and Rachel, Holly as “Flick” Scully on Neighbours.
In 1999 at the age of 16 she was cast in the role of Felicity “Flick” Scully in Neighbours and over three years and 330 episodes she emerged as a popular young star, in 2000 she appeared in a steamy shower scene for Human Nature’s music video for He Don’t Love You, which brought her to the attention of casting agencies, and at 18 years of age she relocated to the UK in 2001. Below – Shower scene from Human Nature Vid.
Just as Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and others had turned their exposure to the UK market via roles in the soapie Neighbours to international musical success, so too did Valance, who would hook up with Engine Room Music/Universal to record her debut single with British producers Darren Bennett and co-songwriter Steve Welton-Jaimes.
Kiss, Kiss was based on a song composed by prominent Turkish songwriter/producer and performer Sezen Aksu and was originally called Simarik (meaning spoilt), German-born Turkish popstar Tarkan (real name Tarkan Tevetoglu), recorded the original version of the song in Turkish and it was a huge Euro hit in 1997. Valance liked the exotic Arabic cadences of the song and she jumped at the chance to make it her debut single, when lifted from her Footprints album in 2002.
Holly was closely following the trail blazed by Kylie Minogue in her stunningly successful post-Neigbours re-invention as a pop star, so such Minogue songwriting and production team luminaries as Julian Gallagher, Richard Stannard, Karen Poole, Phil Thornally, Cutfather and Joe, and others would all contribute to the success of Holly’s debut album and the hit singles lifted from it.
Kiss, Kiss had already been covered in a previous English-language version by Greek-American pop singer Stella Soleil in 2001, when she took the song to #23 on the US charts, so Valance’s version saw no chart action there, but the Neighbours magic would prove to be a decisive factor in Europe and the UK.
Holly’s music videos exemplified the early 2000’s fascination with the sexualisation of young women – Victoria’s Secret lingerie, Sex and the City/Baywatch, Bratz Dolls, Lara Croft video games, the explosion of accessible pornography via the Internet, and the proliferation of highly sexualized advertising in magazines and on-line – defined an era, and Kiss, Kiss was no exception. The music vid opened with a closeup on a pair of glossy lips and a loud osculatory pop, as sounds worthy of a Eurovison contender or a bellydancing performance, flooded the soundtrack. Exaggerated cat’s eye makeup teamed with a white leather jacket over a white bikini seemed perfect for HV, then a wet hair- look with a cowl neck top and hot pants, attracted a chorus of buffed guys, who joined the diva in some choreographed foreplay. The finale combined flashing techno effects, scratch and smooch sound effects, and what looked like a topless Holly, but it was probably a flesh-coloured body suit and CGI that actually concealed her charms.
The song was a catchy dance floor banger, and a big hit, #1 in UK and Aust, and top 10 in Italy, Ireland, Hungary, Finland, and Austria, selling a million copies, and she would quickly follow up with Down Boy, written by Rob Davis, who had already penned the hits Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, and Come Into My World, for Kylie Minogue.
Down Boy featured a clever merging of acoustic guitar and percussion, and smooth, sultry vocals by Holly, UK TV presenter Alexa Chung appeared in the video as Holly’s friend, and Valance liberally dispensed her whisperly quiet come-ons, along with much writhing and wriggling, and fetishistic themes, to take the song to #2 UK, #3 Aust, #8 Hungary and Ireland, for total sales in excess of 300,000.
The third single lifted from the album was the playful pop of Naughty Girl, lyrically and musically it lacked the dancefloor impact of Holly’s first two hits, the music video featured the diva appearing on large neon billboards teasing men passing by below her, it was a polished but rather soulless production, and was criticised for seeming to condone upskirting camera angles. Holly took it to #3 Aust, #16 UK, and top 40 in five European countries for total sales in excess of 150,000.
Holly’s last hit single was State of Mind which charted #8 in the UK and #14 in Australia, her debut album Footprints climbed to UK #9, Aust #15, and was a surprise hit in Japan at #19, with total global sales in excess of 300,000.
By 2004 Holly and Engine Room/Universal Records had parted company, she had said that “making music wasn’t fun anymore”, and she returned to acting and took up residence in Los Angeles. For nearly ten years she would exist on the fringes of the entertainment industry playing increasingly inconsequential roles in third rate movies and TV series. Below L-R – Holly and hubby Nick Candy, their Wedding Day, Holly and daughters Luka and Nova.
She returned to the UK and in October 2013 married billionaire UK property developer Nick Candy, in 2013 daughter Luka was born followed by their second daughter Nova in 2017, Holly returned to Melbourne for a guest appearance in the farewell episode of Neigbours in 2022, and acknowledged the significant role the soap had played in igniting her singing career.