It’s hard to believe it’s been a quarter of a century since Dannii became Queen of the Clubs with the release of her third studio album ‘Girl’ early in September 1997.
Many people may have written Dannii’s music career off following the muted response to 1993’s ‘Get Into You’ album, which despite featuring one of Dannii’s most well-known hits ‘This Is It’, failed to set the charts alight peaking at 52 on the Official UK Album Chart.
In her personal life, Dannii had been dealing with the fallout of her short marriage to Julian McMahon being over, and in later years revealed she was actually going through financial hardships at the time too.
Still in the public eye, Dannii had returned to TV projects including being a roving host for The Big Breakfast, presenting a superfan quiz show called Fan TC alongside Toby Anstis and even hosting The Lion King special for Disney; who can forget her rendition of ‘Hakuna Matata’!?
In those pre-internet years, fans knew nothing about Dannii having recorded a whole album (later released in 2009 as ‘The 1995 Sessions’) after 1993’s ‘Get Into You’. The first fans heard of new music was in August 1997 when Dannii emerged from her musical hiatus as a sexy, blonde bombshell ready to set the dancefloors alight with the absolute banger ‘All I Wanna Do’.
This track was the first to be released on Dannii’s new record deal with Eternal, through Warner Records and ushered in a whole new sound for Dannii that would see her carve out her own dance-pop lane for years to come.
‘All I Wanna Do’ was written by Brian Higgins, Tim Powell, Matt Gray and Stuart McLennan; the former three would go on to be instrumental in setting up Xenomania who’s hits include the majority of Girls Aloud’s back catalogue and Cher’s monster hit, ‘Believe’.
Initially Dannii wasn’t convinced the track was right for her, as she details in her autobiography ‘My Story’. Luckily, close friend and collaborator, Terry Ronald managed to persuade her to give it a go and the rest is history!
‘All I Wanna Do’ shot straight in to No.4 on the Official UK Singles Chart – her then-highest single peak – and in 2017 was confirmed as her biggest selling UK single by the Official Charts Company. It was also the first of 13 Club Chart No.1s. Dannii Queen of the Clubs was born!
The album ‘Girl’ was released four weeks later, but despite the success of the lead single, it only charted at No.57 and spent just one week in the Top 100. Undeterred, Dannii readied the follow up single ‘Everything I Wanted’.
This time, Dannii took her influences more from the drum ‘n’ bass genre, on a track she co-wrote with Mark Taylor and Steve Torch. The latter would go on to co-write Kylie’s ‘On A Night Like This’.
The video clip for ‘Everything I Wanted’ was in stark contrast to the bright and glossy ‘All I Wanna Do’ and instead was shot on a Super 8 camera, giving a home-video style, grainy black and white feel. Directed by Dannii and her beau at the time, photographer Steve Shaw, it sees Dannii in a vintage Mustang, driving from LA to Las Vegas, rolling skating and diving into the hotel pool. The track peaked at No.15 on the Official UK Singles Chart in November 1997 becoming Dannii’s 7th Top 20 and 11th Top 40 hit.
In March 1998, Dannii released the third and final UK single from the album, the trance-pop of ‘Disremembrance’. A fan favourite, this track is other worldly, packed with strings that are complimented beautifully with synths in the chorus. Dannii’s voice pleads ‘Will you remember me’ and I think there’s no worry fans will forget this tune in any hurry. Remixes came from Flexifingers, Trouser Enthuisasts and Xenomania. It just missed out on giving Dannii another UK Top 20 hit when it peaked at No.21.
For the video shoot the floor of the studio had to be filled with water, and as Dannii recounts on her ‘The Videos’ collection, it was going to take all day to fill; a new plan was needed. Dannii’s team had to phone the local fire brigade to come and fill the set with water. Happily they obliged and Dannii wasn’t complaining about being surrounded by Firemen!
One further single was released in Australia and was actually a hidden track at the end of the ‘Girl’ album. Dannii’s cover of Nilsson’s ‘Coconut’ turns the novelty, early 70s track into a hands-in-the-air, tropical-tinged club track. It was originally recorded as part of the 1995 sessions and for this updated version the original vocal production by DNA was kept. Minogue fans will of course recognise DNA as the team that remixed Kylie’s ‘Shocked’ for it’s 7″ release back in 1991. The updating of the track production came from Ian Masterson and David Green who wrote ‘Disremembrance’ too. As Dannii was touring in the UK when ‘Coconut’ was released a video was made mashing up her three previous single videos.
Dannii’s ‘Girl’ album in it’s original format contains 10 listed tracks plus the hidden track of ‘Coconut’ at the end. She takes us through many different genres in the world of dance, adding her own pop sensibilities as she goes. From the progressive house influenced ‘So In Love With Yourself’ (which features sister Kylie on backing vocals) to the more trippy ‘Am I Dreaming?’; there is certainly much to like about this album.
Perhaps one of the most interesting tracks is ‘Everybody Changes Underwater’ which goes full ambient, complete with whale noises and Dannii speaking much of the verses in what sounds like an echo chamber. It’s an ambitious track for sure, if a little avant garde.
Elsewhere, ‘Heaven Can Wait’ blends nineties dance beats with a retro psychadelic, swinging 60s vibe. It could’ve made a great summer single had the UK gotten a fourth single. Written by the same team as ‘All I Wanna Do’, remixes graced the ‘Coconut’ single including a 7″ version so maybe it was in contention?
Tucked away towards the end of the album is one of Dannii’s finest ballads ‘It’s Amazing’. Starting with some heavy breathing, it develops gently with Dannii’s voice the star attraction as she hits some impressive high notes in the chorus of this emotive track.
The ‘Girl’ album was reissued in 2007 with extra tracks ‘Someone New’ and ‘Keep Up With The Good Times’ as well as remixes. The former is a hi-energy Euro-dance number that was a originally a bonus track on the 1997 release in Japan and was another Ian Masterson and David Green penned track. ‘Keep Up With The Good Times’ is another Higgins et al composition and again ups the tempo with house piano and a euphoric chorus.
The ‘Girl’ era was an exciting time to be a Dannii fan, as she discovered her inner dance diva and wasn’t afraid to experiment and go against the pop grain. Although very much how albums were released in 1997 (one single then album), it may well have benefitted Dannii to get two or even three singles out before releasing ‘Girl’ to allow fans to reconnect after several years away from music. Regardless, ‘Girl’ is still an important part of Dannii’s musical development and a great listen today!
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