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Sep 10

KYLIE MINOGUE – “Hand On Your Heart”

Popular61 comments • 5,061 views

#627, 13th May 1989

“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.

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Comments

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  1. 31
    Jude Rogers on 13 Sep 2010 #

    (That’s the shoes in a 7, the dresses in a 16. I do not have the feet of Nick Cave, although Kylie will get a glimpse of those in a few years.)

  2. 32
    wichita lineman on 13 Sep 2010 #

    This is what I hear on the chorus – a melancholy tug created by running an almost Jobim-ish monotone vocal line over shifting chords. I love it. It makes Kylie sound confident that the response to looking her in the steely-blue eye will be “I just don’t have the heart” (nice spot, Punctum), but there’s just enough doubt stirred by the downward arc of the chords. I really should know the technical term for this. It’s probably all explained in This Is Your Brain On Music. Certainly, from the comments above it doesn’t like everyone hears it this way at all!

    The whoa-oa-oa at the end of the chorus puts me in mind of Sam Cooke, a trick he deployed first on You Send Me. Has anyone noticed the similarity of the opening instrumental hook to Little Star/Fight For This Love?

    Oh, and – as I read another barbed reference to them – am I really on my own in considering Big Fun’s Can’t Shake The Feeling amongst SAW’s best?

  3. 33
    Ciaran Gaynor on 13 Sep 2010 #

    @31 Big Fun’s vocals on Can’t Shake The Feeling are appalling. They completely overshadow the song.

  4. 34
    wichita lineman on 14 Sep 2010 #

    Fair comment. Though it sounds like it’s only the one ‘Fun, sounding like Lou Christie on horseback (in shakiness and pitch rather than Milk Tray gallantry) – the bulk of the vocals are by more than competent femme sessioneers. Vox for me are overridden by the house piano build and the post-chorus Psycho-string sweep. It careers ever upwards, thrillingly, like the Hollies’ similarly maligned I’m Alive.

    So, still just me is it?

  5. 35
    MikeMCSG on 14 Sep 2010 #

    #34 Sorry WL, I just don’t remember it. Sadly we’re coming out of the period where I can comment on the charts generally as opposed to the artists I favoured (which wouldn’t include Big Fun). Those who can earn a living discussing music are lucky indeed !

  6. 36
    DietMondrian on 14 Sep 2010 #

    Why is she grinning her way through the video when the lyrics are about a break-up? Mindless.

  7. 37
    wichita lineman on 14 Sep 2010 #

    Err… Del Shannon grinned his way through his abduction/abuse hit Keep Searchin’ on telly. The Furious Five grinned their way through The Message when I saw them in ’83. Showbiz, it’s been around for a while!

  8. 38
    anto on 14 Sep 2010 #

    This is just ok. Personally I think S/A/W were long beyond their peak by 1989. Big Fun* were a travesty (and partly a forewarning of the Jedwards of this world), The Reynolds Girls sole hit carried a worthy sentiment but sounded not just disposable but disposed-of and a certain red-haired singer we should shortly be encountering was even more of a personality star than Kylie.

    * In a similar vein to Big Fun were the duo Yell. A blond one and a dark-haired one whose cover of Instant Replay did rather well and then it turned out the one with dark hair was about 32 and had like a whole football team of children or something like that.

  9. 39
    wichita lineman on 14 Sep 2010 #

    “Personality star”? This is all getting a bit Mojo. Does anyone prefer the Manics or Nick Cave collaborations to HOYH? I can’t remember how either of them go, and remember both sounding pretty predictable at the time.

    Re 38: If Jedward had made a decent record I’d have forgiven them their omnipresence last Nov/Dec. But, just to be contrary, I’d Rather Jack sounds less sure-footed to me in my Tango In The Night-loving dotage.

  10. 40
    Rory on 15 Sep 2010 #

    @39, “Does anyone prefer the Manics or Nick Cave collaborations to HOYH?”

    Ooo, me, me! I only heard “Some Kind of Bliss” a few months back and it was stuck in my head for weeks. As for the Cave collaboration, it’s neither’s finest hour, but it’s fine. This, on the other hand, I couldn’t remember at all, and a week after watching the YouTube video I still couldn’t tell you how it goes; I gave it 4.

  11. 41
    will on 15 Sep 2010 #

    Some Kind Of Bliss is a very underrated track and its failure was largely a case of rotten timing. It was unfortunate to come out just as the Britpop backlash started, during the two weird post-Diana weeks when even Radio One played grey, forlorn-sounding music that ‘fitted the national mood’.

  12. 42
    Matthew H on 15 Sep 2010 #

    I handed over real money to Tower Records for ‘Some Kind Of Bliss’, which is a cute little pop song for all its indie clothes. The only quibble I ever had was its stringing out of the final chorus for about four minutes.

    ‘Hand On Your Heart’ was a bit plain for me. 1989 was only about fancying Kylie; 1990 I fancied her AND bought all the records.

  13. 43
    DietMondrian on 15 Sep 2010 #

    @37 – a fair point, I suppose. Still: the video irks me terribly.

  14. 44
    Jude Rogers on 15 Sep 2010 #

    I think you are on your own re: Big Fun, Wichita Lineman, dear. Even as an 11-year-old cauldron of SCREECHY HORMONES JORDAN KNIGHT LOOK AT ME SCREAM, I didn’t get the song, and I still don’t get it. Utterly spot-on dissection of the HOYH chorus and how it works, though – it’s incredibly melancholic, desperately, even, and that’s something I sensed back then that only gains power over time.

  15. 45
    anto on 15 Sep 2010 #

    Re 39: That wasn’t entirely a criticism. Her personality was/is lovely
    but I think S/A/W were coasting at this stage nonetheless.
    I don’t think I was being a bit Mojo. I was being a bit Select which is nowt to be ashamed of.
    Good point about the Kylie/Nick Cave match-up though. I thought it was a creepy dirge but then I can’t stand Nick Cave.

  16. 46
    wichita lineman on 16 Sep 2010 #

    Certainly nothing wrong with Select, Anto. In fact if anyone has a run from the start to around ’96 I’m in the market for buying them.

    I’ll quietly put my copy of Can’t Shake The Feeling away in my drawer of ‘secret’ things.

  17. 47
    punctum on 16 Sep 2010 #

    I’m pretty sure I have the whole run of Select up in the attic but unfortunately I ate all the free foodstuffs at the time so that will depreciate their value considerably. Anyone else remember the special editions in cereal boxes with free cereals, sweets etc.? David Cavanagh, what a writer (REM, Blur, Sugar etc. album reviews) – where is he now? Perhaps my favourite feature was the one where Mark Owen Discovers Indie and chews the fat with Laetitia Sadier and other unlikelies.

    “Can’t Shake The Feeling” – nice chord change coming out of the chorus but the vocals lack personality.

    What is this “personality star” phenomenon? It’s the Paul O’Grady Show with special guest PERSONALITY STAR um John Barrowman.

  18. 48
    Billy Smart on 16 Sep 2010 #

    The Britpop years were the golden age of giving away free sweets with magazines. Smash Hits seemed to have some sort of deal going in promoting experimental brands at the time. By far the worst were a sub-TicTacs version of peppermints that tasted of soap and carried a warning on the label that they had laxative properties. I still ate them, though.

  19. 49
    Gavin Wright on 16 Sep 2010 #

    Re: #47, I remember those editions of Select, I’m sure at least one came with a free bag of Twiglets though my favourite freebie had to be the Jon Carter ‘Live at the Heavenly Social’ mix cassette (which I’ve sadly since lost/thrown away).

    As for David Cavanagh, Amazon seems to suggest that his Creation Records book is due for a repress next February which means I might finally be able to get a reasonably-priced copy of my own… No idea what he’s been up to since then though.

  20. 50
    Dominic on 16 Sep 2010 #

    #31 on the hook, yes, now you mention it.

    On Big Fun. Oh no. Truly atrocious (although I almost had a soft spot for one of their singles, was it called “Handful of Promises”, that was so so so terribly bad that it was almost, but not quite, good). Their duet with Sonia was at least semi-listenable, I suppose.

    But who would have guessed at the time that the fluorescent jackets that they sported would 20 years later be adopted as a sign of authority by police officers and general elf-and-safety-conscious types

  21. 51
    wichita lineman on 16 Sep 2010 #

    Re 49: Reprint presumably to tie in with the Creation documentary about to screen at the LFF. Executive Producer: Alan McGee. According to someone who’s seen it, expect self-serving anecdotes and chronic history re-writing. And it’s all cut as if we have ADD.

    If you haven’t read the Cavanagh book it’s very good, and straight enough that McGee got Paolo Hewitt to rush-write a rival history.

  22. 52
    Tom on 16 Sep 2010 #

    I’d like a run of Selects too! I would also very much like a run of DELUXE, the “men’s magazine” launched by the same team which lasted half a dozen issues and was very easily the best men’s mag I have ever read. In today’s ZOO/NUTS environment it seems to represent some fantastic outer space miracle of publishing that probably never actually happened. So perhaps I ought never to actually see it again.

  23. 53
    Tom on 16 Sep 2010 #

    I can’t stand “Where The Wild Roses Grow”. “Some Kind Of Bliss” is a bit more interesting because it’s kind of fascinating to hear what the MSPs do with the brief to write a pop song. But it’s no “Little Baby Nothing”. (“THANK GOD” cry half the readers)

  24. 54
    Mark M on 17 Sep 2010 #

    Re 52: So you were the Deluxe reader! You clearly got the idea better than I did, and I wrote a few features for it (the commissioning briefs did my head in). It’s my professional opinion that there is no market for men’s magazines aimed at reasonable human beings.

  25. 55
    Mark M on 17 Sep 2010 #

    Re 51: the Paolo Hewitt Creation spoiler book is hilarious (15% deliberately, I’d guess).

  26. 56
    Dominic on 17 Sep 2010 #

    #54

    At present I’m inclined to agree, but I must ask, just why is that? It’s not the case in, for example, France. What has gone wrong with British culture to make it so?

  27. 57
    Steve Mannion on 17 Sep 2010 #

    I’d argue that having to segregate mags for gender in such a way at all is a bigger cultural failing. If I want a magazine about lifestyle and culture I don’t want it to be mostly written by, covering and focussed on just the one gender.

  28. 58
    Mark M on 17 Sep 2010 #

    Re 56: I’m not quite sure why the British ones are so objectionable – in the US, Esquire had a tradition of great writing back in the day (I have no idea what’s it like now), and plenty of other men’s mags have been pretty good for a while – Details, Gear, etc.

    Re 57: In theory, you’d think so… In practice, what market there is for a non-gendered lifestyle magazine seems satisfied with the weekend newspaper supplements.

  29. 59
    Billy Smart on 24 Sep 2010 #

    David Cavanagh is still at work as a music journalist! Terrific Sweet piece in today’s paper – http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/sep/23/sweet-strange-history

  30. 60
    Auntie Beryl on 20 Jan 2013 #

    The chorus melody to this was such a blatant steal from Waiting For A Star To Fall by Boy Meets Girl that I rejected the entire thing, and I wasn’t alone in that opinion among the fifth form. 5.

    Redemption for Kylie would come later with Step Back In Time, which as noted above didn’t trouble the number one spot.

  31. 61
    Gareth Parker on 6 Jun 2021 #

    Again in agreement with Tom. 7/10 for a fun pop single imho.

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