Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Best Of Kylie Minogue

Originally posted on the 25th anniversary of "Locomotion" in 2012.

So we're all aware that on July 20, 1987, Kylie Minogue released her debut single: the original version of "Locomotion", right? Excellent!

To celebrate the anniversary, and since I like charts and lists (what, you hadn't noticed?), I've decided to count down my 25 favourite Kylie singles.

Number 25 "Some Kind Of Bliss"
Year: 1997
Album: Impossible Princess
Charts: #27 (Australia), #22 (UK)
The '90s were a funny time for Kylie. Who would have expected, given her output at the start of the decade, that she'd be teaming up with half of Manic Street Preachers seven years later? Turns out the Impossible Princess album was exactly the right thing to do given the music climate at the time. Sure, it's not my favourite of her albums (Body Language is the only one I like less), but songs like "Some Kind Of Bliss" and "Did It Again" showed versatility and had the added bonus of getting the Australian public back on side. This lead single from the album didn't chart very well, but it's my favourite nevertheless.

Number 24 "Never Too Late"
Year: 1989
Album: Enjoy Yourself
Charts: #14 (Australia), #4 (UK)

The third single from Kylie's second album was another Stock Aitken Waterman pop gem, even if it wasn't quite as good as her previous singles. I loved the cheesy video, complete with decade-skipping costume changes and easy-to-learn dance moves - but within 12 months, the era of Smiley Minogue would be over for good.

Number 23 "Kids"
Year: 2000
Album: Light Years
Charts: #14 (Australia), #2 (UK)
It was a genius decision to team up with Robbie Wiliams, the UK's hottest male singer at the time, on her comeback album. But "Kids" wasn't just a savvy career move, it was also a brilliant song - and one that goes down a treat at karaoke (I usually do the Kylie bit).

Number 22 "Word Is Out"
Year: 1991
Album: Let's Get To It
Charts: #10 (Australia), #16 (UK)

Let's Get To It is an interesting album - mostly because it feels like Stock and Waterman (Aitken had moved on by this stage) threw a bunch of stuff at the wall to see what stuck. That's not to say that it's bad, but it does feel a bit all over the place stylistically. "Word Is Out" mimicked the new jack swing sound coming out of the States - at least the UK version did. In Australia, we got the smoother Summer Breeze Mix, but I always preferred the original version. I was never too sure about the hooker video, though.

Number 21 "Get Outta My Way"
Year: 2010
Album: Aphrodite
Charts: #69 (Australia), #12 (UK)

Aphrodite is up there with Light Years and Rhythm Of Love in terms of consistency (i.e. there are no dud tracks), but the singles released weren't anywhere near as memorable as the hits from those other albums. "Get Outta My Way" was my favourite, but clearly didn't connect with the Australian public, being her lowest ARIA top 100 chart peak up until that point.

Number 20 "Celebration"
Year: 1992
Album: Greatest Hits
Charts: #21 (Australia), #20 (UK)

Even though SAW palmed off main production duties on this track to PWL cohorts Harding and Curnow, it was a fitting end to Kylie's time with the Hit Factory. For me, the release of the song coincided with the completion of my final Year 12 exams so it was especially appropriate. I always liked the video as well, mostly because it seemed like Kylie was genuinely enjoying herself.

Number 19 "Spinning Around"
Year: 2000
Album: Light Years
Charts: #1 (Australia), #1 (UK)

As comebacks go, this has to be one of music's most successful of all time. A lot of credit is given to those hot pants - and sure, they played a part - but "Spinning Around" showed Kylie knew which side her bread was buttered. The excursions into indie and club music were all well and good, but it's shiny pop tunes like this that she's always done better than anything else.

Number 18 "Turn It Into Love"
Year: 1988
Album: Kylie
Charts: N/A (Australia), N/A (UK)

OK, it was only a single in Japan, but that's good enough for me. A classic cut from Kylie's debut album, SAW realised the song was too good to waste and gave it to Hazell Dean to release in the rest of the world. It's not one of Kylie's best vocals (even with the Calrec Soundfield Microphone), but the song is pure pop gold.

Number 17 "If You Were With Me Now"
Year: 1991
Album: Let's Get To It
Charts: #23 (Australia), #4 (UK)

It's probably one of her most forgotten about singles, but this duet with American soul singer Keith Washington is a sweet love ballad. The clip was gorgeous, too.

Number 16 "On A Night Like This"
Year: 2000
Album: Light Years
Charts: #1 (Australia), #2 (UK)

Forever associated with the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics, the second single from Light Years was another instant classic, even if it had been released by two other artists (Pandora, Anna Vissi) in the 12 months prior to Kylie's version coming out.

Number 15 "Got To Be Certain"
Year: 1988
Album: Kylie
Charts: #1 (Australia), #2 (UK)

Kylie's third number one in a row in Australia even debuted in pole position, which was very rare at the time. There are a few slightly different edits of the music video, but my favourite has always been the one that includes footage of Kylie singing on a shaky merry-go-round and maintaining her composure while the horse she's sitting on jerks up and down.

Number 14 "Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi"
Year: 1988
Album: Kylie
Charts: #11 (Australia), #2 (UK)

I always thought it was funny this song was retitled "I Still Love You (Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi)" for the Aussie single release - did Mushroom assume we couldn't cope with a foreign song title?

Number 13 "What Kind Of Fool (Heard All That Before)"
Year: 1992
Album: Greatest Hits
Charts: #17 (Australia), #14 (UK)

Now here's a single it would've been great to hear on Kylie's recent Anti-tour. A new track on her first Greatest Hits, the "Heard All That Before" in the song title was a cheeky nod to her detractors.

Number 12 "Wow"
Year: 2008
Album: X
Charts: #11 (Australia), #5 (UK)

Kylie's 10th album was a bit hit and miss for me (loved half of it, didn't care for the likes of "Speakerphone" or "Nu-di-ty") but "Wow" was a standout.

Number 11 "I Should Be So Lucky"
Year: 1988
Album: Kylie
Charts: #1 (Australia), #1 (UK)

Whatever the real story is about this song's composition and exactly who came up with the song title (Stock and Waterman's accounts differ), there is no denying that it changed Kylie's future forever. At the peak of the Australian backlash against Kylie, I recall one radio station playing the intro of this song before drowning it out with the sound of gunfire. No wonder she moved to London.

Number 10 "Step Back In Time"
Year: 1990
Album: Rhythm Of Love
Charts: #5 (Australia), #4 (UK)

It's no mistake that the four singles from Rhythm Of Love are all in my top 10 Kylie singles of all time. SAW were doing some of their best work and Kylie was clearly much more in control of her music and image. Compared to the fun but cheap-looking retro-inspired video for "Never Too Late", "Step Back In Time" was cool and sophisticated.

Number 9 "Your Disco Needs You"
Year: 2001
Album: Light Years
Charts: #20 (Australia), N/A (UK)

This is one of those songs like Pet Shop Boys' version of "Go West". It's over-the-top, it's ridiculous but it's just so good. From the male choir to the spoken French lyrics, it's a kitsch, camp tour de force.

Number 8 "Hand On Your Heart"
Year: 1989
Album: Enjoy Yourself
Charts: #4 (Australia), #1 (UK)

A great start to her second album, I can't hear "Hand On Your Heart" without picturing the accompanying video. When you think about it, it was really just Kylie wandering around a simple set in a range of primary colour dresses, but for some reason it worked.

Number 7 "Shocked"
Year: 1991
Album: Rhythm Of Love
Charts: #7 (Australia), #6 (UK)

One of the only Kylie singles to feature a rap, "Shocked" would have been my last choice of single from Rhythm Of Love in its original form. Thankfully, remixers DNA whipped the lengthy album track into shape and another pop classic was created.

Number 6 "Better The Devil You Know"
Year: 1990
Album: Rhythm Of Love
Charts: #4 (Australia), #2 (UK)

The first single from album number three has my favourite ever video of Kylie's - and it still looks great today. At the time, I remember the clip and the song surprising a lot of people and, looking back, it was the first hint that Kylie could be more than just a pop puppet and had become an artist taking charge.

Number 5 "Especially For You"
Year: 1988
Album: Greatest Hits
Charts: #2 (Australia), #1 (UK)

I wrote about this song recently, so all I'll say here is that it would have been really great to see Kylie and Jason perform it again live all these years later. Let's hope they find another occasion to make that long-awaited duet happen.

Number 4 "Love At First Sight"
Year: 2002
Album: Fever
Charts: #3 (Australia), #2 (UK)

Sharp-eyed readers will notice that Kylie's biggest worldwide hit, "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" doesn't rank in my top 25. I get why it was so successful, but for me, the best track from Fever was the third single, "Love At First Sight".

Number 3 "Wouldn't Change A Thing"
Year: 1989
Album: Enjoy Yourself
Charts: #6 (Australia), #2 (UK)

Until "Better The Devil You Know" came along, this was my favourite Kylie video. I loved the backyard frolicking and the switch from rehearsal gear to stage outfits (a trick recently used by Beyonce for her "Love On Top" clip).

Number 2 "Locomotion"
Year: 1987
Album: single only
Charts: #1 (Australia), #2 (as "The Loco-motion") (UK)

The song that started it all - and the song which I famously (well, in my household anyway) watched nine times in a row after it received its first airing on one of the last episodes of Countdown. I'm not a fan of the SAW remix, which I feel takes away a lot of the joy from the Australian original (not to mention the "chug-chug-chug" bit). Deservedly the biggest Australian hit of the '80s.

Number 1 "What Do I Have To Do"
Year: 1991
Album: Rhythm Of Love
Charts: #11 (Australia), #6 (UK)

As I warned in my Hit Factory post, this song tops a lot of my lists since it is my favourite song of all time by any artist. I don't know what it will take for me to like another song more, but I'm more than happy if I never do.

And in the spirit of K25 and the aforementioned Anti-tour, I've also come up with my top 25 Kylie non-singles. Kylie's been fairly prolific in her two-and-a-half decades making music, so there are plenty of album tracks, bonus tracks and B-sides to choose from, but these are my favourites:

1. "Too Much Of A Good Thing" (from Let's Get To It)
2. "Made In Heaven" (B-side to "Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi")
3. "Nothing To Lose" (from Enjoy Yourself)
4. "Fever" (from Fever)
5. "So Now Goodbye" (from Light Years)
6. "Do It Again" (B-side to "Wow" and "In My Arms")
7. "Disco Down" (from Light Years)
8. "Time Will Pass You By" (from Kylie Minogue)
9. "Just Wanna Love You" (B-side to "Hand On Your Heart")
10. "Koocachoo" (from Light Years)
11. "Rhythm Of Love" (from Rhythm Of Love)
12. "Loveboat" (from Light Years)
13. "All I Wanna Do Is Make You Mine" (B-side to "Especially For You")
14. "Tightrope" (from Fever)
15. "Secrets" (from Rhythm Of Love)
16. "I'm So High" (from Light Years)
17. "I Don't Need Anyone" (from Impossible Princess)
18. "Love At First Sight" (from Kylie)
19. "Enjoy Yourself" (from Enjoy Yourself)
20. "Aphrodite" (from Aphrodite)
21. "I'm Over Dreaming (Over You)" (from Enjoy Yourself)
22. "Right Here, Right Now" (from Let's Get To It)
23. "Under The Influence Of Love" (from Light Years)
24. "Light Years" (from Light Years)
25. "Paper Dolls" (B-side to "Spinning Around")

And to think it all started with a charity performance for a football club...

That's it for my look back at my favourite Kylie songs. On August 2, we'll look back at what else was going on in music the week "Locomotion" made its chart debut.


  1. 25 years? I guess I was an early adopter.

  2. Here's my Top 40 Kylie singles. Duets are included but not guest appearances.

    1. Shocked (1991)
    2. On a Night Like This (2000)
    3. Come Into My World (2002)
    4. Fever (2002)
    5. Can't Get You Out of My Head (2001)
    6. Especially for You [with Jason Donovan] (1988)
    7. Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love) (2011)
    8. Spinning Around (2000)
    9. Love at First Sight (2002)
    10. Red Blooded Woman (2004)
    11. Better the Devil You Know (1990)
    12. I Believe in You (2004)
    13. Made of Glass (2005)
    14. Wow (2008)
    15. Giving You Up (2005)
    16. Put Yourself in My Place (1994)
    17. What Do I Have to Do (1991)
    18. All the Lovers (2010)
    19. Better Than Today (2011)
    20. Step Back in Time (1990)
    21. The Loco-Motion (1987)
    22. Kids [with Robbie Williams] (2000)
    23. Get Outta My Way (2010)
    24. In Your Eyes (2002)
    25. 2 Hearts (2007)
    26. Got to Be Certain (1988)
    27. Did it Again (1997)
    28. Please Stay (2000)
    29. Slow (2003)
    30. In My Arms (2008)
    31. Your Disco Needs You (2001)
    32. Confide in Me (1994)
    33. I Should Be So Lucky (1988)
    34. What Kind of Fool (Heard All That Before) (1992)
    35. Breathe (1998)
    36. Celebration (1992)
    37. I Still Love You (Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi) (1988)
    38. Hand on Your Heart (1989)
    39. Where the Wild Roses Grow [with Nick Cave] (1995)
    40. Cowboy Style (1998)

  3. Does anything from "Kiss Me Once" or "Golden" make either of your lists now, Gavin? If so, where do they place?

    1. Golden, no. The title track of Kiss Me Once would possibly make the non-singles list (it was in my year-end top 50 for 2014). Timebomb and the SAW remix of Everyday's Like Christmas would be closest to coming anywhere near the top 25 singles from her recent output.