Kylie Minogue has had an enviable career accumulating 51 Top 40 UK singles and 25 Top 40 albums. Now some 33 years on since she released Loco-Motion in Australia as her debut single and it’s recently been reported that she is learning music programming tool, Logic in lockdown so she can keep working on her forthcoming 15th studio album.
Whilst we eagerly await the next KM era, I’ve been listening to all of her studio albums from 1988’s debut Kylie through to 2018’s No.1 Golden and gave myself the near impossible task of trying to put them in order.
Kicking things off:
14. Let’s Get To It
With the release of her fourth and final studio album with SAW in 1991, it was obvious that Kylie was growing up and her music, although still pop, took a turn towards the dance music she was clearly listening to in the clubs. The imagery on the sleeve nods to Madonna, showing a fuller lipped, black and white Kylie being looked upon by men. Lead single Word Is Out unfortunately didn’t resonate with the public who didn’t seem ready to let go of girl-nextdoor Charlene for the sex siren that was emerging. The more wholesome If You Were With Me Now (one of her most underrated ballads) and her cover of Chairman of the Board’s Give Me Just A Little More Time saw her back in the top 5 of the UK singles chart but didn’t help the parent album which stalled at 15. Finer Feelings finished the run of singles and introduced Kylie to Brothers in Rhythm who would go on to be very influential on her next album and beyond. It’s a bit of a mish mash of sounds, with neither SAW or Kylie at her best for me.
Should’ve been a single: Right Here, Right Now
13. Body Language
Kylie’s Fever album was an international juggernaut that saw Kylie’s popularity soar around the world and gave her a new start in America. It was perhaps trying to capitalise on the success stateside that influenced the direction of her follow up album Body Language. It took on some more American sounding R&B lite tracks including the second single Red Blooded Woman, which could easily have been a Destiny’s Child song. As the world waited for the next Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, instead Kylie delivered a minialistic dance track in lead single Slow. It debuted at Number 1 in the UK and is the only Kylie-penned Number 1 single of her career to date, as well as her most recent. I have to confess I felt the song was lacking some oomph on first couple of listens but it is now a firm favourite that just sounds classy and timeless. The album has a retro 80s funk style in places and I think had the Prince-esque Still Standing been a single rather than the generic US R&B pop of Red Blooded Woman, the album may have had a longer shelf life. Other stand out cuts include Loving Days (feels like an Impossible Princess track) and Secret (Take Me Home) where we get to hear Kylie bring out her rap skills. There are more experimental tracks like Someday and I Feel For You but they just don’t excite me. I appreciate Kylie trying not to just give us Fever pt 2 but maybe if the album had been that it would’ve helped cement her status in the US without trying to sound like anyone other than Kylie.
Should have been a single: Secret (Take Me Home)
12. Kiss Me Once
In 2014 Kylie released her first album since she signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation management company. She also started as a coach on The Voice UK and Australia so her profile was high with the very mainstream, family-friendly audience. Unfortunately, Kiss Me Once like a few other Kylie albums feels like three different album ideas that they ended up merging rather than focusing on one direction and it just doesn’t stand up as a cohesive collection. There are also too many overt sex references with three songs all having sex in the title; Les Sex, Sexercise and Sexy Love. Kylie is sexy by not trying blatantly to ram home the message; this was overkill. Sexercise, with it’s shock value sexy video, more or less killed this album but if it hadn’t then an awful video for the average I Was Gonna Cancel as single two, or Enrique Iglesias duet Beautiful being a single then not being a single, all helped to stop momentum. Messy album, messier campaign. On the plus side there are some great tracks including the title track, Feels So Good, If Only and Fine.
Should have been a single: Kiss Me Once (should’ve been a Christmas single)
Kylie’s first studio album following her treatment for breast cancer was a confusing one. Once again it sounds like several ideas that have been merged in to one incoherent album and with around 50 tracks demoed it could well have been the case that Kylie and her team were trying different directions and a compromise was made for the final album. I think the public expected songs penned by Kylie about what she’d been through and despite songs like Stars, No More Rain and Cosmic appearing on the album, the general vibe seems to be electropop for the dancefloor. I think had they picked the latter as a theme and gone all out with a message of Kylie’s back and doesn’t want to talk about cancer yet, she just wants to get out and have a good old dance, it would’ve worked so much better commercially. I would’ve called it Rippin Up The Disco and included that bonus track too. Rumour has it that before 2 Hearts came in, Like A Drug was planned for lead single, shame they didn’t go with that and relegate 2 Hearts to an album track or even a b-side.
Should have been a single: Like A Drug
10. Kylie Christmas
Kylie making a Christmas album was a perfect idea and I was expecting high camp, fun and sleigh bells aplenty. On many tracks she delivered just that with a mix of well trodden covers like Most Wonderful Time of the Year and Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and brand new festive tracks such as the brilliant White December and Cried Out Christmas. The featured artists were a little odd to say the least. Maybe Kylie is a big Iggy Pop fan? Maybe James Corden promised her a carpool karaoke? Who knows! I for one would’ve liked to have seen some better duet partners than those two and a posthumous Frank Sinatra. I was excited to see Dannii on the list but the song just doesn’t work for me in the context of the other tracks and aside from the lyrics isn’t a Christmas track. Running at 22 tracks (if you include Snow Queen edition) there’s plenty to like, but perhaps make your own shorter playlist of around 14 tracks is ideal. I think the label screwed up on single choice (a theme perhaps) and tried to go for the cooler tracks with Only You as a promo track and the Chris Martin penned track Everyday’s Like Christmas as the lead single. Then Kylie went on every TV show she could and performed mostly the covers instead so the public never had a chance to connect with then new single. I think things could’ve been very different had she gone with the track below as the lead single and performed it on a few of the big TV shows she appeared on. Here she is performing it at her Royal Albert Hall gig;
Should have been a single: Christmas Isn’t Christmas Til You Get Here
The place where it all began! In July 1988, Kylie was released following the No.1 single I Should Be So Lucky and the No.2 Got To Be Certain. The ten track album was written and produced by Stock Aitken and Waterman (except for The Loco-Motion) and it went on to become the biggest selling album of the year in the UK. We all learnt a little bit of French with Je Ne Sais Pas Porquoi and chugged along to The Loco-Motion as they both went to No.2. Turn It Into Love was released in Japan (and in the UK by Hazell Dean) and It’s No Secret was released in New Zealand and the USA where it became Kylie’s third top 40 Billboard hit. It sound tracked my year and pretty much my life! I thought it was a nice touch for Kylie to sing a little ad lib from the song below on her Golden Tour:
Should’ve been a single: I’ll Still Be Loving You
8. Enjoy Yourself
Kylie’s second album was half more-of-the-same as her debut and half throwback to a 50s and 60s sound to tie in to her film debut in The Delinquents and the two styles merged together well. Lead single Hand on your Heart was everything you’d expect from SAW and Kylie at the time, but it was Wouldn’t Change A Thing where you could start to hear and see a bit of a change in Kylie. Never Too Late gave us that incredible video of many looks and Tears on my Pillow gave Kylie her fourth UK No.1, not bad for the fourth single from a multi-platinum album. One of my favourite performances of that era is from Smash Hits Poll Winners Party where she opened with remix elements of Wouldn’t Change a Thing before going in to Never Too Late complete with a Made In Heaven middle 8 breakdown – genius!
Should have been a single: Over Dreaming (Over You)
7. Kylie Minogue 94
Kylie’s first album after leaving hitmakers Stock Aitken and Waterman was a real chic statement piece. Lead single Confide in Me not only showed the world that Kylie could sing, hitting the high notes with ease, but also that she was a true artist. The pop art stylings of the video, helped propel the song to No.2, just missing out to Wet Wet Wet’s marathon No.1 Love is All Around. The album mixes laid back dance songs (Falling/Where Has The Love Gone) with power ballads (Dangerous Game/Put Yourself In My Place) and funky R&B lite tracks (Surrender/If I Was Your Lover). It was a bold, yet subtle album that was certified Gold in the UK. Unfortunately due to Kylie’s filming of Streetfighter the campaign lost a bit of steam by the time Where Is The Feeling? was released as the third single. It also gave us this iconic album advert:
Should’ve been a single: Where Has The Love Gone
6. Rhythm of Love
I need to start by saying the Top 6 all could be No.1 on my list, depending on my mood but I have to draw the line somewhere and today it’s Kylie’s third album that comes in sixth. The album with the perfect run of singles; Better the Devil, Step Back, What Do I Have To Do and Shocked. Rhythm of Love saw Kylie take control of her image and also test out her songwriting chops as she developed into an artist. It was an exciting time to be a fan and had the album performed better there’s definitely more choices for a fifth single. Kylie went to America to write with Stephen Bray (Madonna) on the title track and Count The Days – both are much more laidback R&B influenced love songs. She also worked with Michael Jay (Five Star/Martika) on the gorgeous ballad The World Still Turns and showed her rap skills on One Boy Girl with Willie Wilcox (Natalie Cole) and produced by Keith Cohen (Paula Abdul). Oh Venol, yoo hoo!
Should’ve been a single: Always Find The Time
In 2001, Can’t Get You Out of my Head became a monster hit around the world and sent parent album Fever straight to the top of the UK charts and well on it’s way to being one of Kylie’s biggest selling albums. The icy, cool electro sound of the single continued with songs like In Your Eyes, Love Affair and Give It To Me and there was the pure pop joy of Love at First Sight and title track Fever. Album closer Burning Up is a unexpected surprise starting with acoustic guitar and some spacey sound effect noises before erupting into the funky chorus.
Should’ve been a single: Love Affair
Produced by Stuart Price (who also produced Madonna’s brilliant future disco album Confessions on a Dancefloor) and with writers including Calvin Harris, Jake Shears and Keane’s Tom Chaplin, it is one of Kylie’s most cohesive albums to date. All themed around Kylie as the Goddess of Love, it’s an album of classic Kylie dance pop opening with, what has now become, Kylie’s anthem All The Lovers. A slice of eurphoric pop that still sounds effortlessly fresh today. The tour for the album also gave us this incredible Vegas style water spectacle; I still get goosebumps at 2.51 mark.
Should’ve been a single: Aphrodite
2. Impossible Princess
In 1997, Kylie underwent another transformation which was quickly labelled Indie Kylie. The trademark blonde perm from the 80s had longs since gone and now we had a black and white image of Kylie with a dark, short, spikey hair. She’d written with Manic Street Preachers and dared to add guitars to her sound, as well as trip hop, electronica and even irish folk violins. All lyrics were penned by Kylie and it was a real insight to a young woman and her inner most thoughts and fears. Maybe not to every fan’s taste but definitely her most personal album to date. Commerically, it struggled with lead single Some Kind of Bliss being Kylie’s first to miss the Top 20 in the UK and the album title dropped and delayed til spring ’98 following the tragic death of Princess Diana. It still holds a very special place in my heart and ears, all these years on.
Should’ve been a single: Dreams
1. Light Years
Following Kylie’s dip into the world of serious indie navel gazing, she took to the road for her small Intimate and Live show. On this tour she performed Dancing Queen and a torch light version of I Should Be So Lucky and seemingly embraced her past in a way that she’d struggled with. It made her realise that her next record had to be a return to pop with cocktails and poolside as the mood board, and boy did she deliver. Spinning Around said it all lyrically, move out of her way, the Princess of Pop was back to take her crown. On a Night Like This and her duet with then King of Pop, Robbie Williams followed and the album Light Years just missed out on the top spot settling for Number 2 but going on to be certified platinum in the UK. With a big disco feel and summer vibes throughout, it’s an album that sounds instantly familiar. With Kylie as our Bursar I’d be willing to risk boarding a plane again!
Should’ve been a single: Light Years
So there you have my Kylie studio albums ranking at this moment in time. Don’t hold me to it as some albums pull me in more at certain times, just know it’s a solid back catalogue of work and I cannot wait to see what she has up her sleeve for KM15.
Meanwhile, you can listen to all of my ‘should’ve been singles’ alongside some more tracks that could easily have received single treatment below:
Do you agree with my ranking? Tell us @entfocusmusic