This October marks the 20th anniversary of Kylie’s best-selling global smash album ‘Fever’. It’s time to feel the fever all over again!
At the start of the Millennium many would have said Kylie’s days as a commercially successful popstar were over. However, the girl whose name loosely translates as boomerang in Aboriginal tongue, surprised many a critic by shooting straight to No.1 with ‘Spinning Around’ in 2000. She quickly followed this with the No.2 hits ‘On A Night Like This’ and ‘Kids’; it was like being back in 1988 for a life-long fan like myself! The parent album ‘Light Years’ narrowly missed out on the top spot but was quickly certified platinum and Kylie took to the road for her first full tour since 1991in the UK.
The ‘On A Night Like This Tour’ as it was named, saw Kylie playing many of her hits alongside album tracks from ‘Light Years’, and excitingly introduced us to a brand new track called ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’. It was very slinky and seductive with some catchy ‘la la las’ – I was instantly a fan when I heard it at Hammersmith Apollo, but little did I know just how much I would love the studio version.
As the summer of 2001 ended, it was announced that ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ would be the lead single from Kylie’s next album and it was going to be involved in a big chart battle. Former Spice Girl, Victoria Beckham had already been embroiled in a chart fight the previous year when her feature on True Steppers ‘Out Of Your Mind’ went head-to-head with Spiller featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor; unfortunately for Posh, she had to settle for No.2 then. Now, she was releasing her debut solo single proper ‘Not Such An Innocent Girl’ and the tabloids were falling over themselves to pit her against Kylie in the race for No.1 single.
Kylie needn’t have worried however as the buzz around ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ was building at a rate of knots . Come the week of release and Kylie sold a massive 306,000 copies storming straight to the top of the UK singles chart leaving poor Victoria to enter at No.6.
With it’s futuristic video (including the iconic white cowled body suit) the track has become her most commercially successful hit ever. ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ is not only her first million selling single in the UK, but also became a No.1 in countless countries around the world and became only her second track to crack the US Billboard Top 10 when it peaked at No.7 (The Loco-motion is her only other US Top 10 track to date which peaked at No.3).
The album ‘Fever’ was released whilst ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ was enjoying it’s second week at the top of the UK singles chart and it went straight in at No.1 on the UK albums chart. The single also claimed a third of its four weeks at No.1 that week giving Kylie the first (and only to date) simultaneous No.1 single and album of her career in the UK.
The second single from the album was ‘In Your Eyes’ which kept the electro-pop sound of its predecessor and was co-written by Kylie alongside Biffco (Richard Stannard, Julian Gallagher and Ash Howes). It’s release in the UK came in Februrary 2002, some five months after ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’, due to the latter’s enduring popularity. ‘In Your Eyes’ peaked at No.3 in the UK and helped send ‘Fever’ back into the Top 3 of the album chart. Here’s the first performance of the song from ‘An Audience With Kylie Minogue’ TV Special in October 2001.
The third single release from ‘Fever’ was another Kylie co-write with Biffco called ‘Love At First Sight’. This track is pure pop goodness and an ode to falling in love that was perfect for its summer release in June 2002. The video was very simplistic, seeing Kylie in cargo pants and a vest top set against a grey background and white outline block graphics. The futuristic theme of the previous two videos continued however with Kylie’s make up and the backing dancers outerspace style outfits. The single charted at No.2 in the UK, partly in thanks to the b-side being the studio version of the spectacular mash-up of New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ with Kylie’s own ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ that she had premiered at the BRIT Awards earlier in the year. The album ‘Fever’ once again returned to the Top 5 following the single release.
‘In Your Eyes’ didn’t get a US single release so ‘Love At First Sight’ became the follow up to ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ stateside, albeit in a slightly remixed version from Ruff & Jam. It gave Kylie her fifth US Billboard Top 100 placing (No.23) and her second consecutive No.1 on the Billboard US Dance Club Songs. Here she is performing the track on US chat show The Last Call with Carson Daly:
The fourth and final single from the ‘Fever’ album was written by ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ writers, Rob Davis (formerly of Glam rock band Mud) and Cathy Dennis (former 90s pop star). ‘Come Into My World’ had a similar vibe to the first ‘Fever’ single, but was more laidback. Kylie used this track to open her Fever 2002 tour as she emerged in the space age, ‘Metropolis’ style silver plated robot shell, on to the stage. ‘Come Into My World’ saw Kylie win her first Grammy Award in 2004 for Best Dance Recording.
The video for ‘Come Into My World’ ended the futuristic vibe of the previous three videos and instead gave us Kylie upon Kylie, upon Kylie! Using cutting edge production, video director Michael Gondry, filmed Kylie walking in a loop on a French street and each time she passed the dry cleaners another Kylie would join the loop. It wasn’t just Kylie that would mutliply, but her cast of background characters too, with some farcical results. Incredibly clever, the video was voted one of the top 100 best pop videos of all-time in a recent Rolling Stone magazine poll. Watch ‘The Making Of’ video below:
Back to the album itself and sonically it’s a blend of dance, disco and electronic genres which created a credible and sophisticated pop album. Kylie co-wrote five of the tracks on the standard edition including the aforementioned singles; the others were ‘Give It To Me’, ‘Love Affair’ and ‘Your Love’. For me, unfortunately two of those non-singles I would probably have left off the album in favour of some of the brilliant b-sides and bonus tracks from the era. However, ‘Love Affair’ is a missed single opportunity for me and with the album continuing to sell well throughout 2002 I’m sure a fifth single could’ve been eked out.
‘Love Affair’ is another darker, more edgy dance-pop song in the same vein as ‘In Your Eyes’. It was again written by Kylie with Biffco and mixes guitars and vocoder effects over a pounding dance beat. Let’s remind ourselves of that track:
Other writers and producers on the album include Tommy D on album opener ‘More, More, More’ – a DJ who had worked with everyone from Right Said Fred to Catatonia before writing and producing this nu-disco number for Kylie.
US DJ and producer Mark Picchiotti who had contributed the banger ‘Butterfly’ to Kylie’s previous album ‘Light Years’ co-wrote and produced ‘Give It To Me’ with Kylie and Steve Anderson.
Tom Nicholls, who had worked on songs such as ‘Black Coffee’ for All Saints, teamed up Greg Fitzgerald to give Kylie the perfect poptastic album title track with its electronic synths and kitsch lyrics. Plus the album’s most interesting moment in closer ‘Burning Up’ which starts slow and sparse before building to a crescendo in the chorus, before then taking things down again for verse two. Watch Kylie perform this track live on her Fever Tour below:
Rob Davis also contributes the beautiful ‘Fragile’ a mid-tempo, quieter moment on the album, whilst Cathy Dennis teams up with Steve Anderson on the disco vibes of ‘Dancefloor’.
Overall ‘Fever’ has stood the test of time well and many fans think it’s Kylie’s strongest run of singles outside of ‘Rhythm of Love’. As I mentioned above, there are a couple of tracks I would replace on the album, namely ‘Give It To Me’ and ‘Your Love’. The former is just a bit too electro-clash and choppy for my tastes and the latter pleasant but unexciting. However, there are a wealth of gems in the b-sides and bonus tracks that came in the Fever era.
First up is the Australian album bonus track and UK ‘In Your Eyes’ b-side ‘Tightrope’. A song that could actually have been single-worthy for me, this ethereal, subtle banger, sees Kylie purring over a guitar and dance beat which builds through the vulnerable bridge to the sing-along chorus. Watch Kylie perform the track live on 2012’s Anti Tour below:
Another favourite is the electro-funk of ‘Boy’ which wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘Body Language’, and contains one of my favourite Kylie middle-8s; ‘Pretty little thing, you’re making my heart sing’. There’s also the mid-tempo, infectious ‘Baby’ and the poppier ‘Whenever You Feel Like It’. The latter first appeared on the soundtrack to the live action version film of ‘Scooby Doo’ before being included on a ‘Fever’ album repack.
‘Fever’ saw the stars align for Kylie. The pop perfection of ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ led the campaign which saw her sell an estimated 6 million plus copies of the album around the world, making it her best seller. It also cemented her status as a live performer to be reckoned with as her Fever Tour set the benchmark for what a pop concert should be.
Revisit some other classic pop albums:
Kylie Minogue – ‘Kylie’ and ‘Aphrodite‘
Christina Aguilera – ‘Bionic‘
Dannii Minogue – ‘Neon Nights‘ and ‘Love and Kisses’
Madonna – ‘Music’
Sonia – ‘Everybody Knows‘
Eternal – ‘Always & Forever‘