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Spinning Around: Kylie's Iconic Pop Journey

Tuesday, 02 July 2019 Written by Huw Baines

Fresh from leading the Sunday afternoon crowd at Glastonbury through a pastel-hued, witty, celebratory set in the now traditional legends slot, Kylie Minogue is about to turn her attention to a series of summer shows in the UK that promise plenty of pop sunshine (even if the real thing is yet to RSVP). Here we take a look back at some of the biggest hits and most important turning points in a storied career. Hot pants optional.

Do the Locomotion (or the Loco-Motion, is it 1987 or 1988?)

Kylie’s big musical break arrived in the wake of her big TV break as Charlene Mitchell on Neighbours, and more specifically in the slipstream of her character’s wedding to Scott Robinson (Jason Donovan) in 1987. That episode of the show did numbers (circa 20m viewers in the UK) and set the stage nicely for her debut single Locomotion, a cover of a Gerry Goffin and Carole King song that had already been turned into a hit by Little Eva (1962) and Grand Funk Railroad (1974). 

Because this was the ‘80s, the worldwide smash version of the track (number two in the UK, number three in the US) landed with the Stock, Aitken, Waterman stamp of approval in 1988 under its original name of The Loco-Motion. By that point, though, it was a case of doubling down on a winning formula as I Should Be So Lucky had already proved to be Kylie’s breakthrough outside of Australia.

All the time we were apart, I thought of you...

Especially For You is one of those glossy pieces of pop ephemera that, somehow, has stuck around through decades of snark. Lifted from Donovan’s massive ‘Ten Good Reasons’ LP, this Stock, Aitken, Waterman ballad capitalised on the Scott and Charlene/real life romance between the pair and cruised to the top spot on the UK chart in the autumn of 1988. 

At this remove, the straightforward likeability that has allowed Minogue to remain such a widely-loved pop-culture figure shines through from the single. It’s saccharine, throwaway, even nonsensical, but almost impossible to truly hate. It might not be your thing, but laying into Especially For You is the music nerd equivalent of waterboarding a pygmy hedgehog.

They call me the Wild Rose…

In the mid-’90s, Kylie continued to wrestle her music further from the clutches of throwaway pop and into something far more interesting. Her work at this point spanned forays into trip-hop instrumentals, co-writes with the Manic Street Preachers, and more, with a few notable non-starters stifling her progress on a commercial level.

Sandwiched between her self-titled LP and ‘Impossible Princess’, though, was Where The Wild Roses Grow, a collaboration with her countryman Nick Cave from 1996’s ‘Murder Ballads’. Minogue lit up the creeping, intoxicating song opposite Cave, pairing blood red lipstick with evocative imagery cribbed from Millais’ Ophelia. They’ve since reunited to perform it on a number of occasions, including at Glastonbury, as part of Cave’s 2018 All Points East set, and during filming for Cave’s 20,000 Days on Earth project at KOKO in Camden. 

Move outta my way…

In 2000, Kylie smashed her way free of a commercial slump with the undeniable Spinning Around. The track, a disco-infused floor-filler co-written by Paula Abdul, became her first UK number one since Tears on My Pillow hit the summit way back in 1990. Its video, all gold lame hot pants and longing glances, helped forge the design palette for her successful On a Night Like This tour.

Spinning Around’s parent album, ‘Light Years’, was also a major success, spawning four further UK top 10 singles, including the duet Kids with Robbie Williams. The LP also reframed the critical view on Kylie’s work, with praise reserved for its shift away from studied cool and into straight-ahead pop that upped the camp factor in pursuit of fun under a disco ball.

La la la la la la la la…

Following rapidly on the heels of ‘Light Years’ was 2001’s ‘Fever’, an album that served up perhaps the most iconic Kylie song some 14 years after her breakthrough. Can’t Get You Out of My Head, a co-write between hitmaker supreme Cathy Dennis and former glam-rocker Rob Davis, pushed her disco cred into mature, modern pop without sacrificing its potential as a boozy throwdown in the club.

A monster hit in the classic sense (number one pretty much everywhere, her biggest single in the US since the Loco-Motion) it has continued to play a huge role in public perception of Kylie, regardless of later stylistic shifts like the low-slung cool of Slow or her country album ‘Golden’. She remains one of the few real pop icons out there, and largely because you can’t shake songs like this.

Kylie Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue July 02 2019 - ST AUSTELL Eden Project
Wed July 03 2019 - ST AUSTELL Eden Project
Thu July 11 2019 - MANCHESTER Castlefield Bowl
Fri July 12 2019 - LYTHAM Green
Sun July 14 2019 - EDINBURGH Edinburgh Castle Esplanade
Mon July 15 2019 - EDINBURGH Edinburgh Castle Esplanade
Thu August 01 2019 - SCARBOROUGH Open Air Theatre

Click here to compare & buy Kylie Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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