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Kylie the Songwriter

We take a look at Kylie’s songwriting credentials

We take a look at Kylie's songwriting credentials

When most people think of Kylie Minogue one thing they don’t think of is ‘songwriter’. Many still think that she’s probably never written any of her songs and wouldn’t know that behind the pert posterior, she is actually a very talented songwriter.

Kylie’s first foray into songwriting was on her third album Rhythm of Love but the first track with her name on the writing credits to go public was actually courtesy of sister Dannii as Kylie co-wrote the track Love Traffic for Dannii’s debut album, released in Australia a month earlier. It was very pop and quite throwaway lyrically including the line ‘Love traffic, there’s a jam’ but it had a very American sound to it (as did much of Dannii’s debut). It was co-written with Alvin Moody who wrote much of Dannii’s album and set the tone for the tracks that Kylie would write for Rhythm of Love.

In the Spring and Summer of 1990 Kylie was undergoing somewhat of a change, taking control of her career and image and managed to push SAW to let her write songs for her new album – something we’re sure they were reluctant to do. She jetted off to the states and worked with Stephen Bray (who famously co-wrote many of Madonna’s early hits) on Count The Days and the album title track. Both had a US R&B lite sound to them and the lyrical theme was that of love. The latter is still a firm fan favourite today. She also tried her hand at rapping on One Boy Girl another track she co-wrote on the album, with mid-tempo ballad World Still Turns completing her writing credits. None of the tracks were deemed single worthy by the label (fans would disagree!) but it was clear Kylie had a taste for writing.

Rhythm Of Love

 

On her next album Let’s Get To It, Kylie got all sexy and club-influenced, writing on 6 tracks including her first single co-write on the no.4 hit If You Were With Me Now (a duet with US star Keith Washington). A gorgeous string/piano led ballad, the track was the second to be lifted from the album and took Kylie back in to the top 10 following her first miss with the album’s lead single Word Is Out. The track was co-written with Stock, Waterman and featured vocalist Keith Washington and was more typical SAW than the rest of the album (bar Give Me Just A Little More Time) with the rest of her co-writes having a more edgy dance sound and being written with Stock and Waterman (Aitken had left the fold by then). Kylie was clearly clubbing and growing up and wanted that to be reflected in her music and image. Some of the tracks were little more than dance music with one or two lyrical lines over the top such as I Guess I Like It Like That and the era’s b-sides Do You Dare and Closer which Kyile also co-wrote. Techno Kylie was in the house! Pun intended.

If You Were With Me Now

 

It was the fourth single from the album, Finer Feelings that would see Kylie work with club DJs/Producers Brothers In Rhythm (BIR) which was to be crucial in her artist development and for her songwriting. BIR are Dave Seaman and David Anderson and it was their remix that gave Kylie another top 20 hit.  It paved the way for Kylie calling it a day with PWL and signing to cool dance label Deconstruction.

First she had a greatest hits to release and this featured two new tracks co-written by SAW and Kylie plus her cover of Kool & The Gang’s Celebration. First single from the release was the Kylie penned What Kind Of Fool (Heard All That Before) which felt like a real step back in time as it were to her pure pop sound that SAW created on her first two albums. It didn’t perform that well for her, stalling at 14 on the UK charts.

Kylie took time out before she began writing with dance producers the Rapino Brothers in 1993, but the majority of the songs never saw the light of day (some got a release later in her career as part of a hits and rarities package Hits+). Her first release for Deconstruction was a sophisticated dance pop track called Confide In Me which was written by Brothers In Rhythm. It preceded the 1994 self-titled album which ended up only featuring one Kylie co-write on the slinky Automatic Love written with the Rapino Brothers but reworked by Brothers in Rhythm.

It was her next album that would really showcase what the singer was capable of as a songwriter and give an unprecedented insight to who she was, and where she was at that point in her career and life. Step forward Impossible Princess (or Kylie Minogue ’98 as it was called after the death of Princess Diana forced the album to be postponed and renamed).

One of the first tracks she wrote for Impossible Princess, a few years prior to the release, was a track called ‘Free’ which has never been released but she performed it on her 1998 Intimate and Live Tour. The lyrics tell a tale of someone taking to the open road and just feeling liberated and free – ‘this is the feeling, I want for always’. Kylie was clearly inspired by taking time out and having a road trip across the vastness of America with her then-flame, photographer Stephane Sednaoui. Kylie was, and probably still is relatively unknown in the states and this was her doing something that ‘normal’ people do and enjoying every moment of it. It was her freedom from having to be the brand ‘Kylie’ all the time, instead she was just herself; a theme that is echoed throughout Impossible Princess.

From the opening track Too Far (written solely by Kylie) you’re taken on a journey with Kylie our host as she shares ‘Caught my very own self in the snare of my mind’ and how she ‘fuels this stupid fire with these feelings of mine’. On Limbo there’s more sense of claustrophobia and uncertainty and with Jump she’s sharing her vulnerability and fear, ultimately knowing that although no one can know what it holds, she’ll ‘run to the future and jump’.

Jump

Love is another theme on the album and it seems that her boyfriend may be the inspiration behind tracks like Cowboy Style and Say Hey (another solely Kylie written track) on the album. With Breathe and Dreams showing Kylie’s state of mind and hopes for the future.

If you want to get to know Kylie Minogue a little better then listen to the lyrics on Impossible Princess and you’ll find a woman who is hungry to absorb every opportunity life has to offer and is sometimes a contradiction to herself. Kylie co-wrote with Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield, Dave Ball & Ingo Vauk and BIR. The latter is a relationship that has stood the test of time with Kylie going on to write more songs with Steve Anderson from the pairing and he’s still her musical director on her tours.

After critical acclaim but commercial failure of the album in the UK, Kylie was soaring in her native Oz and she took the album on tour. Whilst on the tour she covered ABBA’s Dancing Queen with a headdress complete with a shocking pink flume of feathers – and so the showgirl was born!

She signed a new record deal with Parlophone in the UK and began the process of embracing her pop roots for what would become Light Years. The hangover from Impossible Princess was clearly evident in the album era’s b-sides written with Steve Anderson. Songs like Ocean Blue and Paper Dolls are much simpler, acoustic songs with more spiritual and magical lyrics of love and taking time out.

Ocean Blue

For the album itself however, the only Kylie writing credits saw her in a much more frivolous mood. Love Boat, Koocachoo and Please Stay all evoke sun, sea and holiday fun. The anthemic Your Disco Needs You sees Kylie in tongue-n-cheek mode making a statement that this album is unashamedly camp and fun. The track was co-written with Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers (as was Love Boat) bringing to mind Pet Shop Boys Go West and has been cemented as a gay anthem.

In 2001, Fever became a monster selling album and the first to boast two singles that Kylie had written on with In Your Eyes and Love At First Sight; both about love and attraction, with the former more sexy and flirty, the latter pure Kylie celebratory pop. Other co-writes on the album included the urgent Love Affair, electro-chopped Give It To Me and gentle Your Love.

Kylie’s next album Body Language had the honour of giving Kylie her first writing credit on a UK no.1 single with Slow. The sexy song about seduction through dance was minimalistic and cool. The rest of the album leaned more towards an experimental R&B sound and also featured Sweet Music, Someday, Loving Days that were all co-written by Kylie.

X was probably the album that fans had the most hope for Kylie writing credits on following her battle with breast cancer. It was an opportunity for Kylie to open up on the same scale she had with Impossible Princess. She may well have done that as a rumoured 47 tracks were recorded for the album but the result was a mish-mash of styles and themes as if there were two different albums in contention and someone said sod it let’s take half and half.

Not that anyone would’ve wanted Kylie to produce a macabre or purely downbeat album but many fans felt cheated when the first single not only sounded like a Goldfrapp song, but said nothing about what she’d been through and instead was a love song. The album did however deliver more insight as to how the experience had affected Kylie on songs like No More Rain, Cosmic and Stars. There was definitely a feeling of Kylie realising her place in the big wide universe and her spirituality. No More Rain is a track that Kylie has said she had to fight to be on the album and includes the lines ‘wave of love coming over me, glitterdrop bomb and I’m on my knees’ referring to her dream of returning to the stage to finish her ‘Showgirl Tour’ which was postponed when she found out she had breast cancer. She has since said that was a big motivation for her recovery.

No More Rain

The X Tour in 2008 gave us a few glimpses of tracks that Kylie had written but not made the cut including Flower which would see a release as part of 2012’s Abbey Road Sessions. The track is Kylie dealing with the question of children and whether she’ll ever have one. Noone knows the details of her private live, but we do know that many cancer treatments can leave you infertile and having that decision taken away can be devastating. Flower didn’t set the charts alight but again did show a side to Kylie that is vulnerable and human and for that reason it’s a very poignant song.

Last studio album Aphrodite gave us three more Kylie co-writes in Illusion, Too Much and Looking For An Angel – the latter again showing Kylie’s interest in more spiritual things. The style of the three songs couldn’t be more different but all within the pop genre with Illusion a subtle mid-tempo track, Too Much a dancefloor stonker (written with Jake Shears and Calvin Harris) and Looking For An Angel ethereal pop.

With new album Kiss Me Once out this week, we were disappointed to see just one co-write on the standard edition (two if you get the deluxe which features Sleeping With The Enemy). The track is called Fine and has a feel good message telling herself and others that you’ll be just fine and we think she will be with the new album and her new found status as coach on The Voice. Let’s hope she’s got many albums left in her where she once again feels comfortable to let us in and see a bit more of the real Kylie once more – and no we’re not talking about the much mooted jazz album (sorry Kylie!)

Fine

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