Oct 10

KYLIE MINOGUE – “Tears On My Pillow”

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#640, 27th January 1990

A last encore for Stock Aitken and Waterman – their commercial headlock on the charts is broken, and we find their enthusiasm and imagination running out on a cloying version of the Little Anthony And The Imperials classic. Of course, this is a false impression – we’re a couple of months away from “Better The Devil You Know”, and Kylie’s second wind as a PWL act. In fact this – her only number one of the 90s – is probably the least interesting thing she’ll release all decade.

It may come from the soundtrack to The Delinquents – her Kylie-grows-up move – but as a record in itself “Tears” finds Kylie still very much part of “…And Jason”. In intent, this is her “Sealed With A Kiss” – the past stripped of its idiosyncrasy and presented as greetings-card romance. Kylie is the best thing here, though: she can’t match Little Anthony’s hurt dignity but given an arrangement which takes the song as cornball melodrama she throws herself into it, so it at least sounds like somebody involved cared.



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  1. 31
    Billy Hicks on 27 Oct 2010 #

    I never minded this. It’s too short to be annoying, one of those songs on my iPod I never need to skip as it plays and ends so quickly. Others include the much more credible ‘Too Much Too Young’ (number 1 almost exactly ten years prior to this!) at 2:06, Blondie’s ‘Denis’ (2:19), Elastica’s ‘Connection’ (2:22), the radio edit of ‘We No Speak Americano’ (2:10) and most stuff from the 1960s.

    But how this got to number 1, and the mindblowing ‘Better The Devil You Know’ didn’t, is a travesty. One of the contenders for one of the best tracks of the *decade*, even though it had barely started when it came out. The epitome of perfect pop, and I can’t help melt a little every time I hear the sampled “Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, Ohwoah-oh, Ohwoah-oh” in the middle 8. Best Kylie track by a mile.

  2. 32
    LondonLee on 27 Oct 2010 #

    You can pretty much draw a diagram plotting the quality (or lack thereof) of a Kylie record by how much bum she shows in the video. More bum tending to = lower quality.

  3. 33
    swanstep on 27 Oct 2010 #

    @32, Londonlee. The vid. for a certain bunnyable track in the early ’00s excluded presumably?

  4. 34
    punctum on 27 Oct 2010 #

    Lyrically “What Kind Of Fool (Heard It All Before)” was SAW basically admitting that the game was up. Never did Kylie’s perma-raised eyebrow radiate such innate despair.

  5. 35
    Billy Smart on 27 Oct 2010 #

    Oh yeah…

    “Whenever I hear your music
    Singing the same old tune
    You’re so sure that I can’t refuse it
    But don’t you speak too soon”

  6. 36
    Chelovek na lune on 27 Oct 2010 #

    @31 (and @32). Less is indeed often more.

    Two great sub-3 minute tracks from the 80s, by which time such things were already a rarity:

    “Out Of Reach” by the Primitives (The single version clocking in at a rather snappy 1.48. The longer and muddier version on the greatest hits album, or indeed on Spotify, is deeply inferior). Although “Crash” wasn’t very much longer, too…;

    And ABC’s “Unzip”, the poppiest track on the very fine Beauty Stab, an obvious shoulda-been-a-single (although would Radio 1, in 1983, have played “She’s vegetarian except when it comes to sex”? Not sure. “He’s strictly ad lib, except when he consults the texts” would have been OK though.)

    (I can’t be very much bothered with much of Kylie’s 00’s stuff. Certainly including at least two of the bunnyable ones, including one that leaves me cold, despite its mammoth success worldwide. lBut that discussion must wait.)

  7. 37
    Rory on 27 Oct 2010 #

    Gah, can’t believe I wrote Waiting to Guffman up there. It’s for, of course, not to. And highly recommended, if you haven’t seen it yet.

  8. 38
    wichita lineman on 27 Oct 2010 #

    Totally agree that The Word Is Out was weak, such a disappointment when we expected Kylie to up both the sauce and quality control another notch (as with the noted bum/hit ratio, the sauce was there but the tunes weren’t). Of the singles on Let’s Get To It, Finer Feelings still stands up, a schmoov, late-in-the-day Soul II Soul-ish thing – easily the pick of a poor crop. Did SAW do the whole album? Were they just out of their depth trying to sound ‘adult’?

  9. 39
    punctum on 27 Oct 2010 #

    About half the tracks were co-written by Kylie, but all were (otherwise) co-written and produced by SAW.

  10. 40
    Chelovek na lune on 27 Oct 2010 #

    “Word Is Out” was utter pish, but I don’t recall the album being poor overall, or even of notably failing to live up to prior expectations (as Kim Wilde’s really pretty decent “Love Moves” had after the mega-commercial-in-in-laces pop of “Stone” had, for example). Well, my prior expectations, anyway. (It was the only Kylie album I bought, admittedly, although my younger brother had exposed me to the rather dull pop of much of the 1st album)

    I even like the duet… (That said, can I recall any of the songs apart from the singles? Erm, no)

  11. 41
    swanstep on 27 Oct 2010 #

    @36, Chelovek. The median Smiths song is sub-3 minutes. In the ’90s the median Magnetic Fields song was *well* under 3 minutes. And the Arctic Monkeys notably kept things short and sweet at least until recently. As a result, I strongly associate a bent towards short songs with high quality song-writing (I’d certainly include the Primitives when they were on their game in that). I find it odd that relatively few pop acts go this route. (I also find it odd that relatively few recent movies embrace a ‘leave you wanting more’ aesthetic.)

  12. 42
    wichita lineman on 27 Oct 2010 #

    I was reminded of Jonny Trunk’s The Ladies Bras while watching Mark Gatiss eulogise Dawn Of The Dead the other night – shortest Top 40 hit ever at 36 seconds.

    Kylie manages to add 14 seconds to Little Anthony’s 2min17 original.

    As for the 80s, most singles I bought between ’85 and ’87 were sub three minutes and some – notably Primal Scream’s Velocity Girl – were under two minutes. Their career peak, it ended up very high in that year’s Festive 50 if not the Hit Parade.

  13. 43
    Mark G on 27 Oct 2010 #

    Yr all wrong.

    The shortest hit ever was Yellow Magic Orchestra and “Computer Game (Theme From The Invaders)” which was the listed track, it ran for 7 seconds (21 if you bought the 12″ version).

    OK, so it segue’d into “Firecracker” but still.

  14. 44
    MikeMCSG on 28 Oct 2010 #

    “Word Is Out” is eternally damned because the video unleashed the “talents” of one Davina McCall on an unsuspecting world.

  15. 45
    Brooksie on 16 Nov 2010 #

    SAW always mined 50’s / early 60’s teen pop standards for their teen-pop artists. It helped pad out their formulaic sounds with something catchy and ‘authentic’ sounding, and gave them (often) a solid shot at a hit: Rick Astley ‘When I Fall in Love’; Kylie ‘The Locomotion’ / ‘Tears On My Pillow’; Jason ‘Sealed With a Kiss’ / Rhythm of the Rain; Sonia ‘End of the World’. I’m sure there are others.

    I’m very nostalgic for this version of the song. It came out when I had a little crush on someone and became the soundtrack to that crush. Kylie gives it a good enough vocal to convince me of the songs emotional content. The music? Meh.

  16. 46
    stebags on 24 Jun 2012 #

    @36 Brilliant! Love The Primitives “Out of reach”!

    Anyone remember the b-side to this Kylie single?
    “We know the meaning of love” – horribly produced, esp. when listening to the 7″ but a nice little ditty all the same.
    I guess it was SAW’s stab at a song to tie in with The Delinquents (boy & girl in love with society saying they’re too young) but was a bit too modern.

  17. 47
    Gareth Parker on 6 May 2021 #

    This one seems all a bit lifeless to me. 3/10.

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