veryone loves Kylie. She’s the gay icon par excellence, a hotpants-clad hottie for teenage boys and their dads to lust after, a disco diva for girls who are happy for their boyfriends to have her calendar on the wall. She was cheesy and massive, cool and still massive, indie and forgotten, cool again and even more massive, and she now sits in that rarified space reserved for veteran pop stars who’ve transcended fashion. She’s Kylie, she’s untouchable and she’s got a greatest hits album out in time for Christmas.
Her current position owes a lot to one song, “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”, which, along with those gold hotpants (sorry, but I can’t get them out of my head), resurrected her career after a long spell in the wilderness. That was The Song, the one that she will forever be associated with, which is both a good thing because it means everyone forgets all the rubbish she’s put out, and a bad thing because whatever she does in the future it will never match that mega-song.
Listening to the first tracks on Ultimate Kylie, you want to skip straight through, because early songs like “I Should Be So Lucky” and “Locomotion” are unlistenable—horribly naff, squeaky songs that transport the listener back to a time when every single in the UK charts was either written by Stock, Aitken and Waterman or sung by an Aussie soap star, or both. Back then, Kylie appealed mainly to eight year olds, as did her boyfriend, Jason Donovan, with whom she duets on the hideously treacly “Especially For You”. I wonder if Kylie ever listens to this stuff herself? Surely she cringes. But it’s to her credit that she pulled herself out of the bubblegum pit and began the long journey to where she is today.
As everyone knows, this happened because she discovered sex, in the form of Michael Hutchence. All of a sudden, Sexkylie, as the NME began to call her, had a twinkle in her eye and delivered songs like “Shocked” with a knowing wink. Did she really say, “I was fucked to my very foundations” on that track? Oh, how we wanted to believe. “Shocked”, “Give Me Just a Little More Time” and “What Do I Have To Do?” were great songs and suddenly Kylie was a little bit cool.
She wanted to be very cool, though. Like so many pop artists, she craved credibility. So she went indie. It was a terrible mistake—her fans deserted her, rock kids refused to embrace the charlatan who was chirping about being lucky lucky lucky just a few years before, and suddenly the pint-sized pop princess was in danger of having to pawn her tiara.
But hurrah: she saved herself. “Spinning Around” saw Kylie re-embracing disco, ‘On a Night Like This’ and her Robbie Williams duet “Kids” cemented her comeback, and then came the aforementioned mega-song. The crimes of the past were forgotten and Kylie had nothing more to worry about except the odd rumour about botox and bum surgery. Her last album, Body Language, sounded a bit tired and flat, but her latest single, “I Believe in You”, produced in collaboration with the Scissor Sisters, is a masterpiece—a fabulous return to form. And I expect that’s how Kylie’s career will continue: every year or two she’ll release another pop gem, sell a squillion more calendars and finally retire as a multi-millionairess with a greatest hits compilation in every household. Because everyone loves Kylie, even if half of this album is terrible.
Reviewed by: Mark Edwards
Reviewed on: 2004-12-06