Kylie Minogue: The Best of

The good, the bad and the gold hotpants.

Kylie Minogue

The Best of

Label: EMI
US Release date: 2012-06-19
UK Release date: 2012-06-04

Few who borne witness to those dark days in the late '80s/early '90s and survived would be so brave, nay foolish, to speak of the atrocities that happened in the name of 'Pop'. Specifically three words that to this day make grown adults shiver in the sunshine and scream out in their slumber. The horror! The horror!...(Locks the door tight) STOCK! (pulls the curtains) AITKEN! (hides under duvet) WATERMAN! (says three Hail Mary's, soils bed). Only haunted war veterans could understand the ungodly barbarities we suffered. "You wouldn't understand man, YOU WEREN'T THERE!" Three nefarious demons with the unhinged, blasphemous belief that "Anyone could be a popstar". When there's no room left in hell, the S/A/W hit factory shall rule the world...and it did for, ooh, about five long, agonising years. It was a "Hit Factory" with a silent "S". Sonia, Big Fun, Sinitta, the Alessi Twins, Pat & Mick, Brother Beyond, Jason Donovan, Steps, Rick Astley and the nadir of despair (weeps)...the Reynolds Girls! But the blue-eyed poster girl for the S/A/W tyranny was the pint-sized Antipodean terminator known as Kylie Minogue. Indestructible. Unstoppable. All-conquering. (Insert maniacal laugh here.)

So how come a quarter century later we know Kylie is "Alright, actually" and maybe even "One of us". How dat? One glimpse in the rearview mirror to the three-headed Führer's Occupation Years (1987-1991) is still enough to have you frantically fumbling for the cyanide capsules. "I Should Be So Lucky" will always sound like the four-minute warning to a global nuclear holocaust, whilst "Never Too Late" still leaves you on your knees crying out "Why Lord? WHY?". Both whither, though, in the shadow of the dead-eyed, mechanical, mass butcherings of "Celebration", "Give Me Just a Little More Time", "Tears On My Pillow" and "The Locomotion". Each once-beloved classic is coldly executed without compassion or mercy. "I know you'll get to like it if you give it a chance now" (jumps from window).

As the decade turned, the S/A/W empire began to collapse into the sea. Revolution and teen spirit filled the air. Comrades storm the palace! Backed into a corner and knowing their days were numbered, S/A/W offered the angry mob a peace offering...a few (golly!) brilliant songs. "Shocked" and "What Do I Have to Do?" were first-class electro pop bangers, yet inexplicably dumped from this collection. Seriously, what kind of depraved deviant includes "Tears On My Pillow" but not "Shocked"? But, oh "Better the Devil You Know" (included, obviously) was the real jewel. A true rave-pop classic; bruised, lush, euphoric, eternal. Laced with biting irony, aching nostalgia and pining loss, it proved the perfect record at the perfect time. "I'll forgive...and forget...if you say you'll never go!" Pull this arrow from thine heart, Cupid! Recast as foxy Bride of Frankenstein, a spark of humanity and defiance lit a fire in Minogue's heart. Well that and hookin' up with perv-pant-clad rock messiah Michael "The Hutch" Hutchence. Kylie flipped the script and choked her captors with her chains, Jabba the Hut-stylee. The evil empire was overthrown and Kylie was free...

Free to roam the "Wilderness Years 1992-2000", of which there is "hits-wise" perhaps understandably scant evidence here. From making chin-strokin' art-pop with Deee-Lite's DJ Towa Tei ("GBI") and covering Prefab Sprout to her commendable indie-cool phase with the Manics (lost classic "Some Kind of Bliss") and Nick Cave (the bloody ballad "Where the Wild Roses Grow"), the kidz on da street were generally nonplussed. The only trace here of those crazy days and lost weekends is the serpentine 'n' Gothic, Doors' sampling "Confide in Me".

So after gettin' her freak firmly on for much of the '90s (and starring, tee hee, in Streetfighter with Jean Claude Van Damme), Miss Minogue dusted off her gold hot pants and decided having proper pop enormo-hits was "Probably a good idea, actually". Well hurrah and pass the Moët for this is where The Best of starts to really earn its keep. The near legendary, disco 2000 comeback single "Spinning Around" stills sounds classy, fragrant and imperial whilst bedroom-eyed, nightclubber "On A Night Like This" is still hot enough to melt large glaciers. Similarly, the inspired, dreamdate pop-rocky coupling with Sir Robbie of Williams on "Kids" is Schmoky and the Bandit cool. A pop-sparring as whipsmart as Nancy 'n' Lee, "You can't just leave me I'm a singer in a band", "Well I like drummers baby, you're not my baaaag".

Back at the toppermost of the poppermost, La Minogue released the "Bloomin'-hell-this-is-pretty-good" Fever album and the ubiquitous "Can't Get You Out of My Head". Hypnotic, subtle, aloof and like much of the album it took its roots from Daft Punk's "All Around the World" and their sister group Stardust's "Music Sounds Better With You". "Head" was a UK number 1 for several lifetimes and perhaps familiarity has dimmed its power slightly, but the rest of the Fever era remains boxfresh. The floorshakin', rollerskatin' jam called "Love at First Sight" is gloriously radiant, sunny Saturday afternoons forever, whilst the sassy tubthumper "In Your Eyes" is still hips, perfume 'n' lipstick invincible.

Truth be told, subsequent years proved a mix of treasures and trash. Like her Madgesty, Kylie's kept her ear to the ground, favouring a vampiric path to immortality and this has brought similarly mixed results. The trying-too-hard electro-buzz of "Slow" is dull and oddly sexless, whilst "Red Blooded Woman" is a clumsy "Genie in a Bottle" knock-off. The more traditional dizzy pop of "Wow" and "In My Arms" proved moderately more successful attempts to tap the Zeitgeist and serve the soup de jour. But if The Best of tells you one thing, it's that only a chump writes off Minogue. Her Scissor Sisters collaboration "I Believe in You" is a beguiling, elusive, Kate Bush-esque highlight and the analogue glow of triumphant 2010 single "All the Lovers" is soulful, joyful, heartfelt and genuinely affecting.

If there were crimes committed against pop many moons ago, there is redemptive evidence on The Best of Kylie Minogue to warrant her a full reprieve 'n' pardon and perhaps even freedom of the city. For those scarred by the deathly hallows of the S/A/W dictatorship, it's certainly long since time to forgive if not forget. Misleading title, dopey sequencing and occasional "Just crap"-ness aside, The Best of still offers much masterclass in perfect pop. One of us! One of us!


The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.