tremble clef

Monday, December 12, 2005

Kylie Minogue, "Enjoy Yourself"/"Telltale Signs" (1989)

Over the weekend I got around to watching my DVD of Kylie's Showgirl. (All the more belated because I had tickets for the actual tour, which was supposed to swing this way in the middle of the year, but of course Kylie had to cancel because of her illness. I can't believe she dared to inconvenience me that way.)

Showgirl is, surprisingly, a little camp. Not quite the five rows of tents in Lynde country that the Light Years-era Live In Sydney DVD was, but a tad more than the Fever DVD. One segment opened with a tight shot of the asses of the four men taking showers on stage, for chrisssakes. Note: The back projection film for this segment is available on the disc as a bonus feature. So it's possible to watch this first, or even only. I'm just sayin'.

Anyway, hearing (and possibly dancing in my living room to) all her greatest hits spurred me to dig up some of her old records, and add some tracks to the iPod. Because it was a slow (HA!) weekend, this evolved, or devolved, into a solitary game of POX -- as in, Pick Only Ten tracks from Kylie, with the following not-in-any-meritorious order results:

1. "Can't Get You Out Of My Head"
Why not begin with the obvious? (I realized recently that Bananarama's "Move In My Direction" has a bassline that is, at points, quite indebted to this.)

2. "Enjoy Yourself"
The title track and concluding number of her second album, "Enjoy Yourself" is, in my book, one of SAW's best achievements. First of all, any song about relishing the moment -- "Don't wait till tomorrow when you should be living today" -- is, by definition, ace. (Although, weirdly, it always sounds to me like Kylie is singing "leaving.") Secondly, this is Kylie's early-Madonna effort, having the kind of delirious disco vibe that the latter's first album had. One of my most hated Kylie songs is "Celebration": not only is it such a banal choice to cover, but it is, at seven minutes, interminable. But it's clear that Kylie was gunning, with "Celebration," for an anthemic thing she could sing at the close of her concerts, like Madonna does with "Holiday." That's not a misguided sentiment, but I never understood why she didn't realized that she had it all along in this shoulda-been-a-standard number.

3. "Step Back In Time"
Looking back to 60s/70s disco, this is in some ways Kylie's most successfully retro number, and makes me frug around the same way some of the songs it namechecks -- say, The O'Jay's "Love Train" -- do.

4. "Your Disco Needs You"
C'mon. I am gay.

5. "Telltale Signs"
I didn't like Kylie much at the beginning, finding "The Locomotion" and "I Should Be So Lucky" actively annoying. ("Got To Be Certain" intrigued, though.) The second album was quite entrancing, however; along with "Enjoy Yourself," this is the other highlight from it. A much better ballad than "Tears On My Pillow," this was also the first song that made me think that she possibly can sing. Mining the same lyrical territory as "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" or "Superwoman," it's a heartfelt ode to "love slipping away," but also features a rueful last-ditch effort to prevent that happening. When the music stops the exact same moment Kylie sings "when we see all the telltale signs, let's STOP!", it's also timed perfectly for you to burst into tears. So feel free to.

6. "If You Don't Love Me"
On the b-side of Kylie's "Confide In Me" single were not one, but two inspired covers: one of Saint Etienne's "Nothing Can Stop Us," and then this: a sparse and heartwrenching treatment of a Prefab Sprout song that, even more than "Telltale Signs," shows off Kylie's plaintive voice to great effect.

7. "Your Love"
I have a weakness for shimmery Kylie: those less frantic, slinky songs that she does really well, such as "Fragile," "Fever," "Giving You Up," or even "Please Stay." But there is none better in that genre than this overlooked track tucked away at the end of Fever.

8. "Love At First Sight"
Filter disco! Wah-wah guitars! But even if the song only consisted of that sublime moment going from the refrain to the chorus -- when "everything went from wrong to right/And the stars came out, filled up the sky/The music you were playing nearly blew my mind/It was love at first sight" POW! "Cause baby..." -- it would still be awesome.

9. "I'm So High"
Although it's de rigeur to claim, if you're any kind of Kylie fan, that her "indie phase" produced a lot of underrated songs, those songs are just...not good enough to be in a top 10. But there is a guitar-pop song, not from Impossible Princess, which is dead good, and it's Light Years' "I'm So High." On that album, to be frank, it sits uneasily: like "Kids," it's too guitary to fit well with the other tracks, but listened to on its own, its ecstastic poppiness refuses to be hidden.

10. "Tightrope/Better The Devil You Know/Shocked/Disco Down/Hand On Your Heart"
What, you've never heard of this song with the long title?

My comment box is lovingly open to your POX, of course, should you be so inclined.


  • OK, though i am not a kylie's super-fan, there is for sure enough material for a Kylie POX

    1. Confide in me
    2. Love at first sight
    3. Better the devil you know
    4. I believe in you
    5. Can't get you out of my head
    6. Giving you up
    7. Some kind of bliss (for James)
    8. Sweet music
    9. Nothing can stop us
    10. Step back in time

    Confide in me is really my favourite song... by far...

    And PO3 remixes
    1. Love at first sight (Scumfrog remix) - further improves an already great song
    2. Giving you up (Alter Ego remix)
    3. I believe in you (Mylo remix)

    By Anonymous Arnault, at 7:11 PM  

  • My POX begins with "Confide In Me" as well. The remaining POIX is just too difficult, and will make me cry.

    By Anonymous esque, at 8:30 PM  

  • Ha, of course you would pick "Some Kind of Bliss," Arnault. Do you think her version of "Nothing Can Stop Us" is better than Saint Etienne's? I do like the pizzicato strings in it -- and feel safe saying that that little bit improves on the original. "Safe," because Bob and Pete did produce it after all.

    Interesting that both of you agree on "Confide." I admire but honestly don't love it.

    PO3 remixes requires more thought. One of those three may very well be the Trisco mix of "Butterfly," just because it's so relentlessly pounding.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 9:58 PM  

  • yes, i am very predictable... Some kind of bliss is quite a typical manics production of the time, with the epic chorus and the strings and hons arrrangement. Might not be very suitable for Kylie though (and i always expect James to join her on backing vocals for the chorus). In my dream world, this collaboration would have marked James coming out... Well, it hasn't happened, just yet.
    I am not sure whether "nothing can stop us now" as Kylie is no sarah. The arrangements are VERY similar to the original, a bit less energetic in the build up to the chorus though. The pizzicato strings are indeed delicious and would be a welcome addition to the original.
    I still love "confide in me" to this day. I actually remember vividly when this song came out. I grew up in a small town so i worshipped the hit-parade (this being the only available music to me at the time), then moved to a bigger city to study and became a music snob (a way to build my character i guess). Then when i faced Confide in me, i really found i could not avoid that song and had to love, cool or not... (and i guess you can also follow the no-so-thinly veiled metaphor in my last paragraph).

    By Anonymous Arnault, at 3:02 PM  

  • 1. Confide In Me
    2. Where The Wild Roses Grow
    3. Your Disco Needs You
    4. Kids
    5. Can't Get You Out Of My Head
    6. Better The Devil You Know
    7. Shocked
    8. G-House Project
    9. Spinning Around
    10. Little Baby Nothing

    The order gets so hard after the first two...

    By Anonymous Kit, at 6:56 PM  

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