“Hand On Your Heart” lands in similar emotional territory to “Too Many Broken Hearts” – this is it, do you love me or not? But while musically it’s just as cheap the Kylie track has ten times the Jason song’s presence. “Too Many Broken Hearts” verges on the triumphant, with “Hand On Your Heart” you know someone’s cornered but the lyrics and the delivery keep switching sides as to who: this is an ultimatum, but it’s also a final move. “Look me in the eye”, “put your hand on your heart” – from the emotional grammar of soap we know very well that winners in love don’t have to say these kinds of things, they’re the kind of demands you make as a way of hastening the inevitable, for all Kylie’s obvious desperation to avoid it.
So for once Stock Aitken And Waterman have hit on a mood that perfectly matches the clattery rush of the music. This isn’t as well-produced as “Especially For You” or as well-sung as “Never Gonna Give You Up” or as definitive as “Respectable” but it’s the SAW song I feel the most. There’s an urgency here that gets at something about teenage angst – the constant momentousness of it, maybe – that better-crafted pop can describe but rarely capture. It’s in the way Kylie is forced to gabble her lines and given a chorus that’s a chain of finger-pointing emphases.
Which works terrifically: nothing else in a SAW hit captures a moment so well. But “Hand On Your Heart”‘s problem is that its so effective in its chorus that the verses have almost nothing to do. It’s telling that on the Jose Gonzales cover version – which cleverly transposes the song into the only style more predictable than SAW-style Europop – he gets more mileage out of the slushy boilerplate in the verses than on his morose reading of the chorus. Kylie, meanwhile, just sounds like she’s marking time – and the rote inclusion of that male-voiced dance breakdown wastes more goodwill. In the end this laziness stops “Hand On Your Heart” being a great pop single, but there’s more life here than either singer or producers often managed.