X Allmixedup: A Pop Concoction From Kylie
Revisiting one of my favorite albums always astounds me — X has long bewildered me with its varying sounds. From electropop to ballads to R&B, the soundscape was the perfect choice for me. Its odd placing in Kylie Minogue‘s discography may leave some fans cold, but for me, it was perfect for someone who wasn’t even sure of themselves. You see, I was starting to come out when I discovered the Minogue sisters — hence why I adore them. I became engrossed in their music because it provided an escape from my questioning reality. I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? As I mentioned before, X was a match for a misfit like me. I was all over the place — I still am — it was hard not to come to the conclusion it was my favorite.
The lead single, “2 Hearts,” was an odd choice. I doubt it’s what the public expected after Minogue resumed her Showgirl Homecoming tour after being treated for breast cancer. It oozes glam pop/rock with Minogue projecting Debbie Harry. “I’m in love…I’m in love…I AM IN LOVE.” I always find myself repeating it — it’s one of the few constant songs I have playing in my head. It’s kind of a shocker that “Like A Drug” never became a single; Cutfather had a gem on his hands. The heavy hitting electropop of a tune beckons you to the dance floor like no other. Long before he collaborated with Rihanna, Ellie Goulding and other dazzling pop stars, Calvin Harris managed to impress Kylie Minogue. Admitting to having a drink before meeting the pop star, I’d say the end result was magnificent. “In My Arms” is a banging tune that always has an audience singing along.
“Speakerphone” fell on everyone’s radar once Madonna posted it on a public playlist in iTunes — remember those days? Known for producing Britney Spears’ iconic “Toxic” (originally meant for Minogue before being rejected by the singer), Bloodshy & Avant solidified another fan favorite with a haunting electronic tune. It even opened Minogue’s 2008 tour with an extended introduction to rave reviews. Meant for her previous studio album, Body Language, “Sensitized” offers sexual tension with a sampling of Serge Gainsbourg‘s “Bonnie and Clyde.” Another Calvin Harris production begins but this time, it is bizarre. “Heart Beat Rock” has a hint of electro-R&B though I can’t say if it’s for the best.
How do I describe “The One?” It is one of my all-time favorite songs — the synthpop washes over you as if you were an ethereal goddess, a feeling Minogue replicated years later as she embarked on her Aphrodite tour. I can’t help but sway along to this delicate gem; it infuriates me to know it was never properly released as a single and relegated to digital retailers instead. Nevertheless, the Freemasons took it up a notch and remixed it later on, becoming a classic club song. I like to imagine that after receiving chemotherapy, Kylie penned a magical song. “No More Rain” encompasses the hope I’ve come to expect from the Aussie. Its upbeat style echoes the second chances we get in life. I love it. “All I See” is a personal favorite of mine that Minogue managed to grab her hands on. Other R&B singers were after it, but somehow, it landed in Minogue’s territory and I’m glad it did. It’s romantic, it’s cute, it’s been a track of the day before.
“Stars” is poised to be meaningful — Minogue reflects on a potential existential crisis. It echoes disco and glam rock found in “2 Hearts,” but this time, it’s uncertain on one’s standing in the world. “Wow.” One day I’ll enjoy this nu-disco concoction, the next I’ll hate it — but I always jam out to it. It’s refreshing to hear a moment of euphoric bliss from Minogue. After beating cancer and resuming a world tour, I’d relish in a little dance-pop. Bloodshy & Avant return in “Nu-di-ty.” I appreciate the song for its hypnotic vibe; a whirlwind of the heavy production the duo is known for will blow you away. Minogue ends the song with “do itashimashite.”
“Cosmic” is the last song on the album, and it means so much — not just to me, but to the songstress who wrote. it. It encapsulates the dreams she wished to see, if she made it through her recovery. For me, it’s a reminder of what I can achieve, what I can do in life. I believe ending the album on a personal note was remarkable. It’s the closest we will ever know on what goes on inside of Miss Minogue.
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Feature photo by William Baker
Every good album will have bonus tracks and b-sides accompanying singles. For Kylie, her discography expanded as nearly every songwriter in London sent in demos for the comeback album. Initial recordings took place with Jake Shears and Babydaddy of the Scissor Sisters and the end result was a tasteful ballad. “White Diamond” is a remnant of hope that I’ve been telling you about for who knows how long. Pop stars usually get dragged around for not having meaningful lyrics, but if you listen hard enough, you can find it. “Rippin’ Up the Disco” is another Harris production that seemingly molds well with Minogue’s enchanting voice. “Magnetic Electric” is another heavy hitting electronic staple, inserting a bit of white noise to distort listeners and draw them in to a new world.
Two b-sides accompanied the release of “2 Hearts.” “I Don’t Know What It Is” is reminiscent of Light Years; it’s playful and catchy and is perfect for a beach soundtrack. “King or Queen” is on the other side of the spectrum, becoming an electronic blip while ushering you to dance. “Dance floor royalty,” Minogue declares as she seduces you into an electro strut.
“Wow” and “In My Arms” share the same songs on their releases, but they optimize a happy sound. “Do It Again” makes me smile; it details falling for a certain someone that gives you butterflies. “It’s fireworks, fantastic, it tears you apart but it’s magic, it’s a first kiss, the last dance, pulls me in every time,” Minogue expresses as the bridge explodes into an explosion of pure bliss. “Carried Away” follows the same path, echoing the romantic notions one goes through. Lastly, “Cherry Bomb” tings with a haunting production from Bloodshy & Avant — the electronic production is a highlight among the b-sides.
As mentioned previously, Minogue recorded tons of material for her tenth album. Some of the material has made it to the Internet; some of it genius and others lacking that special spark. Nearly seven years later, various songs are still leaking in demo forms and whatnot. “Love Is The Drug” is one of the few to be released officially, making its way to a compilation album. The Roxy Music cover honors the original in a beautiful way. “Come Down” is one of the few I thoroughly enjoy. Unabashedly pop with a hint of Bollywood flavor, it beckons you to dance away in a raging dance number. I have faint memories of hearing an excerpt of “You’re Hot” on YouTube, and years later when the full version leaked I was mad at how much I enjoyed it. It resonated so well with me; the chorus was repetitive declaring someone hot, but the verses…it was a movie moment. It’s like when you see two people whose chemistry is undeniable and you want them to be together.
“Ruffle My Feathers” is a favorite. The tour version is spectacular, and upon listening to the demo — it’s apparent how angry Kylie is. The remix Bitrocka provided is exquisite and will always have a place in my heart. “Love Attack” starts off with Minogue spelling out the song title, ultimately seducing you into head banging to the booming synths. Culture Club frontman Boy George even submitted a track, “I’m Ready,” which had the makings of becoming a booming disco-pop song. One of my favorite songs to leak in remix form is “Sexual Gold.” I long to hear the studio version, as its video game 8 bit sound is unique.
Hidden treasures are tucked away in the so-called Kylie Vault. “Flower” eventually made its way out to see daylight on The Abbey Road Sessions. The love letter to a child never had, it brings out some tears. Though I’m not certain if it was ever recorded, “That’s Why I Write Love Songs” would end me. Hearing the live audio versions from KylieX2008 and the Anti Tour, it made me fall in love with love. Its Broadway image pays tribute to the songs from musicals and romantic movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood, it’s impossible not to fall in love. I hope that song sees the light of day.
A visit to an island off the coast Sri Lanka resulted in “Extraordinary Day (Taprobane).” Sessions with Scottish producer Mylo resulted in two lengthy tracks: “In the Mood for Love” and “Spell of Desire.” Both songs were released on MySpace after being rejected from the finalized version. Kish Mauve was responsible for “2 Hearts” along with “Lose Control.” The latter was a brooding and hypnotic tune that transformed the dance floor into a dim space with chaos ensuing. Not a bad thing, as the duo went on to pen another hit song for Minogue (“All the Lovers”).
Speaking again of oddities, let us not forget “My Love Is Real.” I’m uncertain on how to describe — a cross between electronic glitches and something Annie would have released. “Guess” could be considered cringe worthy — at least for me. Clocking in at a minute and a half, Minogue sort of raps about her comeback. “Boombox” has an odd placement. Every version I’ve heard manages to send me into a singing frenzy. Hearing it performed as a mashup with “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” is quite nice and relegates Kylie as a dance floor diva to be reckoned with.
Peculiarities tend to exist with”Osmondosis” as someone leaked the instrumental. It’s an unmistakable disco romper that would have clashed well with “Stars.” One of the latest leaks to emerge is quite unusual and bares resemblance to a track from Kylie Minogue. “Acid Min” is as exactly as you would imagine it would sound. The spoken word is alluring and offers you a dose of Minogue in a new form.
All in all, X is a musical journey, traveling through a vast soundscape. Thirteen album tracks, half a dozen b-sides with plenty of demos — all of it is just a part of a momentous album. Some can hate it based on how eclectic the album sounds, but for me, it’s a treasure that contains excitement. It fits any occasion and every song takes on a life of its own. Aside from that, there’s so much material to work with, it’s hard not to craft your own album. The varying sounds contribute to the eclectic tenth album, and I must say, nearly a decade later I am still entrenched in its warmth and believe it was far ahead of its time — long before other pop stars experimented with branching out into electronic music, Kylie had conquered it.