Mar 15

KYLIE MINOGUE – “Spinning Around”

Popular99 comments • 4,982 views

#863, 1st July 2000

kyliespin Most comebacks risk being overshadowed by the past. To find its distinct identity, “Spinning Around” has to battle the future. The second phase of Kylie’s career pivots on one single, and we’re a year out from it, but the gravity of “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” makes this nimble disco-pop track sound more a cautious herald than a triumphant return.

But in its moment, people looked very kindly on “Spinning Around”. The idea of a sophisticated, mildly indie-fied Kylie had proved more enticing than the commercial reality. For all the intrigue, risk and personal involvement of the singer as presented on Impossible Princess, the Kylie held in public affection was a cheerful pop performer, not an act prone to experiment. So Kylie presented “Spinning Around” as a rediscovery of core principles – an up-to-date execution of what Kylie fans had gone for in the first place. If a twelve year old had liked “I Should Be So Lucky”, then here was a song her twenty-four year old self could dance to on a Friday night with no irony or hesitation.

That’s a conservative impulse, but not a retro one – sounding like SAW was never on the cards. It’s also a more businesslike approach than the indie-Kylie years, a conscious affirmation of the brand values of Kylie, Inc. “Spinning Around” is smoothly on-trend, a confident glide around the disco revival’s boutique of sounds. For me, it comes to life when the Zapp-style vocoders arrive, with their ability to turn any rote lyric (”Baby baby baby… you know you like it like this”) into a burble of robot delight.

But this was always my problem with Kylie – her thin, pinched voice, present and unchanged on most of “Spinning Around”. I don’t find this a heinous single by any means, more a dreary, cautious one, whose success feels like a vote of confidence in Kylie Minogue in general, an affirmation that people still wanted a pop world with Kylie in it. That’s an achievement in itself, given that the music she arrived with – SAW’s aggressively brash pop – had taken such a mauling from fashion. But Kylie’s gift as a pop star – the point of her, even – was always how unusually likeable and straightforward she was. That had its downsides, as the cool and rather sniffy reception for Impossible Princess showed. But it also made her easy to forgive. “Spinning Around” was an ordinary single, but it did that job at least.



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  1. 76
    Andrew on 1 Apr 2015 #

    oh god, what was Kelly Jones’ problem?

    A more pedestrian post-Britpop success you’ll not meet, but Stereophonics were *everywhere* at this point. Perhaps Kelly was getting a bit big for his boots? (“LEAVE KYLIE ALONE”, etc.) I can remember smirking when the NME knocked a few spots off him after that dire press-baiting ‘Mr Writer’.

    We’ll have a chance to chat more about them in a few Popular years, of course.

  2. 77
    DanusJonus on 2 Apr 2015 #

    Slightly shocked at having being persuaded to join this site in order to respond to a comment about Kelly Jones. Nevertheless, to add to the ‘What was his problem’ train of thought, I had exactly the same issue when at college, though on a wider level about the band in general. I could never understand why him or his band were so popular among people I knew. At the time my late teenage arrogance encouraged me to refer to them as ‘Top Man music’. They were the late 90’s accessible guitar band for so many people of my age, but personally I never saw it. I remember one girl thinking that ‘Same Sized Feet’ was a masterpiece.

    I distinctly remember the same night I went to see the Blur ‘Singles’ tour in Birmingham than many friends were off to Manchester to see the Stereophonics, firmly believing that this was the more exciting prospect. I did wonder whether in 15 years they’d still hold the Stereophonics in such high regard.

    Anyway, just wanted to say the site is rather fantastic but it may take me six months to catch up with all the comments.

  3. 78
    Tommy Mack on 3 Apr 2015 #

    The best bit of Kelly Jones-baiting in the NME was a Thrills spoof piece headlined UN salutes Kelly Jones’ bravery in criticising Hear*Say. More on them to come too of course.

  4. 79
    23 Daves on 3 Apr 2015 #

    A friend of mine edited the entertainment section of a regional magazine who had supported The Stereophonics in their earliest days, and had generally been treated favourably by both the band and V2 as a result. At the height of their success, on the other hand, Jones arsily cancelled an interview with him on multiple occasions, until he was left right up against a deadline with no copy to file. So he wrote a long article about his recent negative experiences, calling out the band and Jones on their lofty behaviour, inevitably finishing with the line “Sorry, I’m just telling it to you like it really is”.

    Interestingly, someone called him from the record company the day the article went to press and asked him “Who put you up to this?” which indicates that the band were becoming somewhat difficult and obviously making enemies at this point.

  5. 80
    Tommy Mack on 6 Apr 2015 #

    Just caught Stereophonics covering Rod on TOTP2. I’d forgotten what an arrogant knob Kelly was…It’s like Robbie Williams without the dash of vulnerability.

  6. 81
    DanusJonus on 9 Apr 2015 #

    I think Kelly Jones had a classic case of small man’s syndrome. He was only 3 foot 7 inches tall (or small?) you know. He used to carry two copies of the yellow pages around with him to stand on when the situation called for it.

  7. 82
    Phil on 9 Apr 2015 #

    Apparently he was Kylie Minogue’s toyboy for a while. Not her boyfriend – literally a toy boy, she used to carry him round in a bag and get him out when she was bored.

  8. 83
    Tommy Mack on 10 Apr 2015 #

    There’s something of Jeremy Clarkson about the neo Dad Rock set (Jones, OCS’ Steve Craddock, Nole etc) isn’t there? They long to be like the swaggering, entitled, care-free heroes of their record collection (and fair enough, who hasn’t fantasised about being a rock god) but instead they’re a neurotic, defensive bunch, jealously guarding their ever shrinking fiefdom of ‘proper music’. It all seems very insecure: if you genuinely felt superior to pop then you could afford to be generous to pop in a ‘well, it’s alright for enentertainment’ sort of way but a lot of them seem to genuinely resent the existence of music which isn’t their own.

  9. 84
    DanusJonus on 10 Apr 2015 #

    Re 83: Very very true. I think we could also easily add Embrace into that category as well. God the McNamara brothers used to get on my wick, I’ll never forget their first big NME interview when they talked about how only Brian Wilson and The Beatles were ahead of them. I also think the ‘neo Dad Rock’ crew became more neurotic and defensive when they realised that the era of having top 5 singles was only a passing phase. I’d wager that there was a correlation with the quality of their output as well (Marchin’ Already anyone?). Then again, somehow, Dakota went to number one about 5 years later; I should perhaps save some invective for when we get to that point.

  10. 85
    Mark M on 10 Apr 2015 #

    Re84: My recollections of doing a very similar early interview with Embrace are on the Drugs Don’t Work comment thread.

  11. 86
    Phil on 10 Apr 2015 #

    Oi, leave Embrace out of it! I thought TGWO was quite genuinely wonderful (apart from McNamara Mi’s dreary thrashers) – I remember telling someone they were as much better than the Verve as the Verve were better than Oasis.

    One-album wonder, though – very little idea what they did next.

  12. 87
    DanusJonus on 11 Apr 2015 #

    OK, Embrace confession. I did actually buy ‘Come Back to What you know’, so I must have liked it, it was more their comments and his voice that made me want to sit in a darkened room with a bucket on my head. Some of the songs were OK, but everything seemed to be the same tempo and rhythm. Then again, that was true for a lot of guitar music at the time. I remember getting the piano sheet music for What’s the Story or Be Here Now and realising how almost everything was 4/4 and the bass never varied from four crochets in a bar. In Oasis’ case that may have been due to Guigsy’s limitations, there just seemed to be a template that many bands at the time were following.

    I think Embrace did about 5 or 6 albums. I may have made this up but I’m sure Coldplay ended up writing a single for them a few years later which did reasonably well?

    Mark M, I’d love to read that interview, though I presume it won’t be easy to locate? I have a bucket and dark room on standby.

  13. 88
    Phil on 11 Apr 2015 #

    They did carry on, but my interest in them fell off a cliff with “Hooligan” and never returned – which makes me wonder if they were just the band for that moment in time, and/or in my life.

  14. 89
    Mark M on 11 Apr 2015 #

    Re87: The actual published piece is only 250 words of ‘hey! exciting new band!’ stuff – I might be able to dig it up if you’re still interested.

  15. 90
    Tommy Mack on 11 Apr 2015 #

    #87: yeah, in retrospect, it seems laughable that the NDRC (Neo Dad Rock crew) marched under the banner ‘proper music by proper musicians’ when so many of them couldn’t play or arrange for toffee. To consider yourself the peer of Brian Wilson just because your record label can afford to slather strings over your four chord dirge is the height of deluded arrogance.

    Not that chops are a particularly important criterion for me. Give me The Ramones over any of the above-mentioned jokers any day (or to return to topic, Kylie over Mariah). But it was weird that all these bands sold themselves as ‘classic songwriting by proper musicians’ when for the most part, they were nothing of the sort.

    I quite liked Embrace for a few singles, the contrast between feeble vocals and overwrought arrangements brought out a certain vulnerability in their songs but I soon got sick of the ‘orchestras on everything’ fad they ushered in.

    Disclosure: I am going zero tolerance on the NDRC because I am so ashamed of how much I loved Moseley Shoals when I was 15…

  16. 91
    DanusJonus on 11 Apr 2015 #

    Re90: I think the overarching motto of the NDRC could have been “*Sniff* Let’s put some strings on it!” I’m sure Embrace went on Jools with an almost full orchestra. As a brief aside, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone top Spiritualized when ‘Ladies and Gentlemen…’ came out for the number of musicians on a Jools appearance. I found their wall of sound far more convincing.

    Though as you quite rightly say, musical chops count for nothing. But when you make grandiose claims about your music I think you’re naturally going to draw more investigation and interest in deconstructing it. However long the inventiveness of what was categorised as Britpop lasted, by 98/99/2000 any originality had gone. I think that’s why when The Strokes arrived the music press were ready to declare it year zero, much like 1976. Though it’s stretching the cyclical argument to take it much further than that. (NRDC as 70’s prog!? Without the musical knowledge though of course).

    I too quite liked Moseley Shoals as a 14/15 year old. In-fact, hailing from Blackpool at the time, they seemed to play Blackpool every seven months or so. The crowd used to chant ‘We are the Mods’ when waiting for them to come on. I always assumed OCS saw Blackpool as some northern style equivalent of Brighton; either that or they got very very lost.

    I should also probably mention that Embrace played in Blackpool around this time and did a cover of De La Soul’s ‘3 is the Magic Number’. It was a painful experience to behold!

    Re89: If you can find it I’d be interested, particularly in light of your description in The Verve thread about the background to being asked to write it.

  17. 92
    swanstep on 11 Apr 2015 #

    @DanusJonus. Your light comparison of NRDC with Prog reminded me of this sentence from Carl Wilson’s recent jeremiad against the term ‘Indie’:

    ‘But I still find [Indie-paragon from The Decemberists] Meloy’s unrelenting streams of conceits wearying, like a prog concept album from 1975 without even the gonzo musicianship to liven up the occasion.’

    Go here for the full article.

  18. 93
    Phil on 11 Apr 2015 #

    Confused now – I thought the Decemberists were prog.

    (OK, I’m joking, but not entirely.)

  19. 94
    Mark M on 12 Apr 2015 #

    Re91: Let me know if it’s readable off this (I think it should be).

  20. 95
    DanusJonus on 12 Apr 2015 #

    Thanks Mark, it was indeed readable and enjoyable. Completely worth it for the line “But if ‘Pet Sounds’ had never been brought out I’d be a lot cockier than I am.”

    A case of ‘Give ’em enough rope…..’?

  21. 96
    Alan on 17 Apr 2015 #

    OfficialCharts do a social engagement thing called “Pop Gem”, and for their 100th this week they did “Vote the best of the last 99” (actually they chose just 20 of them to vote on). Your Disco won 23% of the vote.


  22. 97
    ciaran on 11 May 2015 #

    At the time of SA the BBC were at the height of their repeats of Only Fools and Horses phase at the turn of the early 00s. The Jolly Boys outing episode of late 1989 was screened around that moment which featured Del Boy flogging Kylie Minogue LP’s in the market so unfairly it seemed that KM was naff by association (Bros and Showaddywaddy also had the misfortune of being in Trotters stall)

    So the sudden transformation from has-been relic to of the moment on the money sex goddess in no time at all was astounding. By 2000 Kylie would never have been someone that people my age were all that keen on or even familiar with so we had no foot in the camp for her to succeed.

    For an artist best remembered for Ramsay Street and the subsequent prom queen musical image of the 80s it was like that girl you knew in school who had emigrated a decade ago only to come back in time for Christmas/New Year and who has got spectacularly better with age only with no clue if she’ll stay around for good this time.And if you play your cards right you might have a chance after a mojita or two! Not quite the Plain Jane Superbrain Harris character’s makeover in Neighbours that she perfected with Better The Devil You know but as close as you’ll get.

    Does SA get it right? I reckon it does. For an artist whose perhaps banking on a nostalgic goodwill ticket there is something completely modern and current about it. Not for a second out of place with the current trends.Perhaps its erm.. Movin Too Fast for Kylie to catch up with but it doesn’t outstay its welcome and has one of Kylie’s best choruses to boot.That’s before you get to the video but if you’ve got it flaunt it.7

    It was with Kids and the majestic ‘On A Night Like This’ that hinted that Kylie 3.0 was off and running. For all that it’s those 3 singles of 2000 that Kylie is at her best and the decade long success story that followed doesn’t really click with me. The Kylie of 2000 seems effortless whereas what followed is a bit trying too hard with the odd exception maybe!

  23. 98
    Mostro on 12 May 2015 #

    “Spinning Around” is clearly a professionally put-together piece of millennium-era neo disco by people who know their musical history, yet for all that it never did much for me- there’s something overly generic, formulaic and downright *functional* about it.

    I think Tom put his finger on this one when he described it as an ordinary single that did the job it had to.

    Ultimately, isn’t “Spinning Around” remembered as much for its “Kylie’s bum” video as for the song itself?

    Kylie did better disco songs before and since this one.

  24. 99
    oro cartier anelli on 9 Jul 2015 #

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