Kylie Minogue celebrates 25 years with (another) greatest hits CD
Aussie pop goddess Kylie Minogue has lamented that the U.S. market has been tough for her to break into. But after a quarter century, she’s done fine without it. With 11 albums under her belt, Kylie Minogue may play second (or even third or fourth) to her superstar contemporaries Madonna and Janet Jackson in the U.S., but she’s on equal footing everywhere else in the known universe, and The Best of Kylie Minogue reminds fans that she’s deserving of that recognition.
As part of her “K25,” Minogue is unabashedly celebrating her tenure as a pop diva with her Anti Tour, the badass single “Timebomb” (strangely, not among this compilation) and another greatest hits collection (her fifth) that includes a DVD of her music videos. Her fans selected the 21 tracks on this CD, which doesn’t leave much room for surprises. For diehards, Minogue hasn’t delivered much that’s exciting, but this disc serves as a primer for newer converts or the curious.
With no extra remastering or remixing, the CD plays as its intended: A spectrum of her big hits from the 25 years. But what does it say about the singer? Later songs, like “Can’t Get You Outta of My Head” and “All the Lovers,” are light-years away from her early singles, yet she’s kept throughout a simple pop approach. Sometimes her lyrics are silly, even elementary, but they are also playful and enjoyable — and that’s really what pop music should be.
Famously tied to the Stock Aitken Waterman songwriting team, Minogue struck big early on with “I Should Be So Lucky” and “Better the Devil You Know.” With SAW on her side, those tunes were radio-friendly, blending in nicely with fellow SAW contemporaries Rick Astley and Donna Summer. The squeaky-clean dance beats and abundance of synthed-out drums was formula for a mid-’80s hit. But they sound here like the original tracks with production muted against her more recent singles.
The album isn’t compiled chronologically — “Can’t Get You Outta of My Head” opens the set — so Minogue’s progression is hard to keep track of. Also, it doesn’t do justice to some of her hits. Pitting the nostalgic sound of “Devil” against the edgier “Kids” duet with Robbie Williams is a schizo choice. Her teen-bop songs dull the excitement of her more mature releases.
The better parts come when songs like “I Believe In You” and “In My Arms” play and don’t immediately register as her signature hits: Jake Shears and Babydaddy helped Minogue garner a Grammy nod for the former while trendy producer Calvin Harris was already working with the singer before moving on to Rihanna.
Then there are those other (ahem) “hits.” Her covers of “Tears on My Pillow” is sweet, but reminds me more of Tracey Ullman’s attempt at nostalgic happy days. And Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration”? If there’s ever a song not to cover, this is it — not because it is a classic that should remain untouched, but because it’s like remaking a meh song to begin with. Her version even tames it down a bit. Just pass on the cheese.
The Best of Kylie proves that her longevity and perseverance are nothing to balk at. Yes, the U.S. can be fickle, and it can make or break a young artist. Kylie didn’t get that leg-up. Instead, she wrangled the rest of the world around her and has made her own history of chart-toppers and CD sales with enough American fans (read: gay boys) to keep her well afloat on these shores.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 22, 2012.