Melbourne-born Kylie Minogue has just finished a short theater tour of the U.S. in a bid to capitalize on some brief stints on various dance charts that she has made there this decade, mainly due to the incredible support of the gay community. While her dream of conquering Uncle Sam for good may be an ever elusive one, her star in her homeland – the U.K. and Europe – has risen to unparalleled heights.
She sells records by the truckload in Britain, where she was first noticed in the long-running Aussie soap Neighbours. Her early albums (released between 1988 and 1991) were products of the Stock, Aitken, and Waterman pop factory before she ventured out on her own for some much-needed growth.
A couple of disappointing chart performers with Kylie Minogue (1994) and Impossible Princess (1997) had many a scribe writing her off for good. Those forays into the world of indie-pop had our Kyles exploring new ground, and in my opinion, she turned out two very strong pop records. Minogue was far from done, however, and in late 2000, she launched a comeback of sorts to the world of pop that has seen her become one of the great female pop performers this decade. It all started with the release of her seventh studio album, the poptastic Light Years.
Amassing a cast of thousands to aid in the writing, recording, and production of Light Years, Miss Minogue was onto a winner from the very outset. Guy Chambers (Robbie Williams’ main man) joined the team, as did the man responsible for another diva’s resurgence, Mark Taylor (Cher’s Believe), who signed up for producing and writing duties. Kylie remains the star of the show, though, and delivers some of her finest vocal performances in the process.
The album opens with the superb lead single “Spinning Around,” which was co-written by Paula Abdul, but it’s the video that makes the song so memorable. Minogue shook and shimmied her way through a packed nightclub before doing a jig on the bar top in a pair of barely-there gold hot-pants. The song is pure pop perfection, as is its follow-up single, “On A Night Like This.” Other highlights include a perky version of Barry White’s “Under The Influence Of Love” and the instant gay anthem “Your Disco Needs You.”
“Kids,” a duet with pop star/sex god Robbie Williams, is an edgy pop rocker that both singers revel in. They clearly enjoyed each other’s company (check out the video) and have great chemistry together. The title track is like an updated version of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and closes out the album in style with some of Kylie’s most abstract lyrics to date. There are a couple of rather flimsy tracks to be found here that are a little too formulaic, mainly the ridiculous “Koocachoo” and “Love Boat.”
Other stronger tracks like “Disco Down” and “I’m So High” make up for any missteps along the way and contribute to making Light Years a mostly consistent and joyful pop album. Its slick production and disco flavor prove a winning formula, one that would be tweaked and bettered for the quick follow-up, 2001’s Fever.
Just why success in the U.S. has eluded our Kylie is beyond me. She’s charming, polite, and while being incredible sexy, she never crosses that line that so many other divas of the day have. Her live shows are spectacular celebrations of all things fun, and although she does employ the use of Auto Tune in the studio, she always sings every note live. All of this, plus a swag of albums boasting some superb pop gems that have stood the test of time, make Kylie Minogue one of the greats of her generation. If you love your pop music and appreciate a talented diva, then check her out; you won’t be disappointed, and Light Years is the perfect place to start.
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