Kylie Minogue, Australia’s pop queen, delivers a slightly different album for her fans. But when I think of this album, it’s much more for Kylie. Having gone through a very public breakup and constant flux with record labels, Kylie delivers Golden - an album less about trying to score hits and more about producing honest music. Minogue, who occasionally writes a song here and there for her albums, takes the lead and cowrote every song on this album. And after having an entire album recorded, a producer suggested she experiment with country music. Kylie boarded a plane to Nashville, reworked and rewrote the album, cutting and editing, and finished with a record that is as heavy with pop beats as it is with country nostalgia. For diehard Kylie fans, this might seem like a steep departure from the modern disco hits that she is known for. And while there are glimpses of disco Kylie in the album, this is a much more personal and intimate album.
The album kicks off with the lead single, ‘Dancing.’ This song took several listens for me to really appreciate it. And while the song it catchy and makes you want to line-dance (or jump up and down to the remixes), it’s apparently Minogue’s prerogative on death. The lyrics “I can’t stand still. I won’t slow down. When I go out, I wanna go out dancing” reflects on Kylie’s determination to embrace life until the very end. She continues with “Everybody's got a story, Let it be your blaze of glory, Burning bright, never fade away. And when the final curtain falls, we could say we did it all, The never ending of a perfect day.” So while the song is catchy and dancing worthy, Kylie is taking stock of life and planning to make the most of it.
The second song (and next single) ‘Stop Me From Falling’ continues with the upbeat feeling. This song is sweet and naturally dance-y - though more with a beach holiday vibe than pulsing hard in a club. So it wasn’t surprising that she released a version featuring Gente De Zona with a music video filmed in Cuba. The video showcases a stunning Minogue dancing her way through the streets of Havana in colourful fashions.
Now while these songs deliver what I want from Kylie musically, for me the real gold (pun intended) comes from some of the slower songs that didn’t make it to radio. ‘Lifetime to Repair’ has a playful honky-tonk sound to it with the banjo. It discusses Minogue’s past break-ups and future love potential. ‘Live A Little’ is a happy lil empowering anthem about taking on life’s challenges. ‘Shelby ’68’ - based upon Minogue’s dad’s car and the year she was born, takes us down a dusty ride down memory lane. The simplicity and nostalgia of the song seem to be the perfect bridge between pop and country. I think that the only thing that could have made this song better is if it featured Taylor Swift. Finally, my favourite song (and most listened too song of 2018) is ‘Radio On.’ Granted, the song is ethereally sad. This is what comes of a great songwriting session. The song doesn’t need to hide behind dance beats, catchy hooks or overproduction. Simple is often best - and I can literally put this song on repeat for hours and not tire of the music or the vocals. Damn I wish it had been released as a single on country radio…but maybe it’ll get picked up for a movie soundtrack as it seems to have that vast appeal.
Some songs on the album are less successful…they fit the theme of the album but feel less naturally Kylie. ‘Raining Glitter’ relies too much on a beat to manage. It could have been a beautiful song had it been striped down to an acoustic version. ‘The Musics Too Sad Without You’ is really too painful to listen to. The musical accompaniment drags and does little support Kylie’s vocals. ‘Lost Without You’ drags too much for the first half and is forgettable the second half.
Overall, Kylie delivers a really solid album considering the risk she took incorporating country music. Commercially, I wish her record label had pushed country radio harder to allow it to be a crossover success. The album did well with Kylie’s fan base but it had much greater potential. I mean, if you’re going to have one of the biggest pop stars record a country influenced album, you should have the country community support behind you. If Taylor Swift can redefine pop music, Kylie could have done the same with country music. At least we got some gems off this album which will keep me dancing (and crying) on.