Tuesday, July 1, 2008

THE X FACTOR: CAN KYLIE GET HER GROOVE BACK?


Peter Robinson's article "What's Gone Wrong With Kylie?" in the July 2008 issue of Attitude has inspired tons of debate among her fans about the state of Kylie Minogue's career and why her X comeback wasn't the zeitgeist moment it should have been. I pooh pooh the notion that she should have dug deeper and addressed her recent battle with breast cancer on the CD. This is Kylie we're talking about, not Annie Lennox (see below). At the end of the day, what I want from her are solid songs that entertain. Her experience with breast cancer is just that: her experience. If she has something she wants to share, fine. Otherwise, let her deal with it on her own time.

I thoroughly agree with XO's Middle Eight's assertion that "The One" should have been the first single. The underappreciated "Like a Drug," with its military beat and chanted refrain, is my personal favorite, but the majestic synthesizer intro of "The One" should have been the clarion call of Kylie's return, not "2 Hearts," a good but awkward song that screams album track. Annie "stuck in a rut that she can't get out of" Lennox and her label, J Records, committed a similar error last year and made the commercial failure of Songs of Mass Destruction a foregone conclusion by not releasing the sly, sexy "Coloured Bedspread," one of the few productions of her solo career intended as pure entertainment, as the lead single. As much as I adore solo Annie, I miss the cunning irreverence of her '80s Eurythmics heyday.

Kylie, her record company or whoever has the power that be keeps making all the wrong moves. X is not a bad CD , but one wonders why so many tracks were recorded for it with many of the best ones--like "Rippin' Up the Disco," "Lose Control" and "Boombox"--relegated to "bonus track" status or left off the album completely. Kylie's camp has a history of bad judgement calls. In 1994, "Where Is the Feeling," the best song from her Kylie Minogue album, was remixed into a tired techno mess and limped to No. 16 on the U.K. charts. Madonna would make the same mistake seven years later with "What It Feels Like for a Girl," one of the best-written tracks in her canon, with a remix that took the focus off her sharp songwriting and a Guy Ritchie-directed video that completely missed the point of the song. Those two should stay away from each other's careers.

A few years later, in 2004, Kylie released "I Believe In You," one of her best singles, as a teaser for her second official greatest hits CD. Ultimate Kylie. So far, so good. But anyone who bought the CD single discovered a gem of a B-side dance track called "BPM" that was even better than the A-side. Whoa, Kylie! For a singer considered to be a dance artist, Kylie has very few songs that actually make you want to dance your ass off, but "BPM" was right up there with "Butterfly," from 2000's Light Years. I still wonder what could have been, under the strobe lights, had this been one of Ultimate's two new tracks and released as the second single instead of the forgettable "Giving You Up." Something tells me that somewhere on the cutting room floor of the studio where X was recorded lies about half of the album that Kylie should have released. Let's hope those songs, as well as "Lunar," her collaboration with Coldplay that the band deemed "too sexy" for their current mood, eventually see the commercial light of day.
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