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Mar 15

KYLIE MINOGUE – “Spinning Around”

Popular101 comments • 6,720 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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Comments

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  1. 1
    Mark G on 26 Mar 2015 #

    Yes, the received wisdom had it that “Indie Kylie” was a massive mis-step and this single rescued her from obscurity. Which is massively unfair on her and the styles attempted. My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that the mistake was in moving to a ‘credible’ label that didn’t have the resources to spend on maintaining the visibility.

    “Confide In Me” missed out on the top spot by a hair, then after the label seemed to have cash flow problems, and by the time “Impossible Princess” came out the struggles caused the label to go under.

    The decision to rename the album in the wake of Princess Diana’s death seemed respectful in a business that regards all publicity as good publicity. I’d say that’s not so, but it certainly made the album easy to ignore.

    Oh, and if you can, check out the Bootmix of “Did it again” with “Baba O’Reilly”, in my opinion one of the best such mixes done back when they were plentiful.

  2. 2
    Tom on 26 Mar 2015 #

    We may be having issues with the “posting too fast” glitch again :(

  3. 3
    Mark M on 26 Mar 2015 #

    Oh, I like this one much more than you do, and (I think) more than any other 21st century Kylie track. I reckon it does the ‘hey, I’m back!’ thing niftily – I’ve always liked the ‘And did I forget to mention that I found a new direction/And it leads back to me?’ bit, especially. And her voice fits the song – it would be kind of alarming if belted out.

  4. 4
    Tom on 26 Mar 2015 #

    Yes, I think it’s quite well-liked – and the songwriter, Kara DioGuardi (who did it for Paula Abdul) is very well regarded too among yer 21st century pop followers. I just feel a bit blah about it, and KM in general.

  5. 5
    James BC on 26 Mar 2015 #

    This is worth more than 5 just for the classy/dreamy transition out of the first chorus. “The mistakes that I made…”

  6. 6
    mapman132 on 26 Mar 2015 #

    I never heard this before as it was never a hit in the US. It’s not especially exciting – seems mostly like an appetizer for the bunny bait to come, which was a hit in the US. I’ll be looking forward to that review. 6/10 for this.

    Also, can’t remember if “Confide In Me” was previously discussed, but I absolutely love that song. I had heard it on the UK Chart Attack radio show and was very disappointed, although not surprised, that it never charted in the US. I’m not even sure it was released here. Would’ve been 9/10 from me.

  7. 7
    JLucas on 26 Mar 2015 #

    Outside of Madonna’s many reinventions, I think Confide In Me possibly stands as the most well-executed pop star image shifts of its time. To leap from the SAW dregs she was peddling in 1991-92 (despite her diplomatic assertions that she couldn’t have asked for more success at the point when she left, she absolutely went an album too deep with them and the writing was on the wall) to something so grown up and sophisticated was a huge ask of her audience, and it’s still probably the coolest she’s ever sounded.

    The first DeConstruction album wasn’t a blockbuster, nor was it a Ray of Light style artistic triumph aside from the first two singles (I still don’t understand why Put Yourself In My Place wasn’t a much bigger hit) but it did well and gave her a post-80s sound that suited her.

    Impossible Princess was the point she went into her wilderness years, and while it certainly has its fans, I do think it was trying a bit too hard. The Manic Street Preachers have written well for women elsewhere, but Some Kind of Bliss just doesn’t work for me. It’s not a great Manic Street Preachers song, and aside from one of her stronger vocal performances it doesn’t really give Kylie much to work with. (The old Manic Street Preachers trick of a chorus that consists of a single repeated line is really evident here, and the song drags as a result). The Garbage-aping ‘Did It Again’ is even worse, although the spacey ‘Breathe’ is wonderful, as is Australia-only release and live favourite ‘Cowboy Style’.

    Cut to 2000 and Kylie’s back on a major label and ready to be a pop star again. Spinning Around is a fairly slight number, there’s no question of that. Originally written for Paula Abdul, if the US star had kept hold of it I can’t imagine it would have done much at all, although she is pretty much Kylie’s US equivalent so maybe the narrative would have worked in a similar way.

    Because really, Spinning Around is all about the context. “Did I forget to mention that I found a new direction / and it leads back to me”. It’s a celebratory line that anyone can relate to, but it also works perfectly to introduce the next chapter in the Kylie Minogue story. Throw in a much-celebrated pair of golden hotpants and you have the perfect storm for a comeback hit that only the most churlish anti-pop bore could begrudge.

    7

  8. 8
    lockedintheattic on 26 Mar 2015 #

    The dullest of Kylie’s number ones, I never liked it then and like it even less by now. Not sure I can even find anything interesting to say about it – it just feels like dreary disco-lite by numbers. Always thought the dreamy europop follow-up (On a night like this) was infinitely superior but that just added to her long list of near-misses.

  9. 9
    Izzy on 26 Mar 2015 #

    Confide In Me is wonderful alright. It bowled me over in my deepest indie years; I always assumed its appeal would have faded a little once I stopped living in a world so grey but no, every time I dig it out it bowls me over again.

    In my mind it’s paired with Bjork’s Play Dead, which is a decent record but in truth gets nowhere near scaling the same heights. The only weird misstep is the cartoon-strip video, when some Third Man vibes were surely needed. But I even like that now, so (9; 7 for Spinning Around)

  10. 10
    Mark G on 26 Mar 2015 #

    I’ll admit to buying “Confide in me”, but mainly for the b-sides – covers of “If you don’t love me” Prefab Sprout, and .. um..

  11. 11
    lmm on 26 Mar 2015 #

    Oddly enough I remember this sounding retro at the time – with those lyrics and the vocoder there’s something of the ’80s to it, at least in my head.

  12. 12
    Tom on 26 Mar 2015 #

    #10 haha if I ever knew she covered that I’d forgotten.

    “Confide In Me” is great, and honestly I’d forgotten about it and its album too, anachronistically mashing them up together with Impossible Princess for review purposes. One of her best singles, definitely.

  13. 13
    Andrew on 26 Mar 2015 #

    #7 bang on, context is everything with ‘Spinning Around’.

    The song itself is unremarkable. Not without its charms, but ultimately unexciting. It’s certainly Kylie’s conviction and the narrative of her return to pop (with the record-buying public’s air of goodwill) that sells it.

    If I hear it unawares (on the radio, in ‘the club’) the intro usually makes me think “oh. Oh, go on then”, rather than any great sense of anticipation, but I wouldn’t turn it off.

    The melodramatic Eurojoy of ‘On a Night Like This’ is another story altogether; a shame that we don’t meet it here. Light Years is my favourite of Kylie’s albums.

  14. 14
    StringBeanJohn82 on 26 Mar 2015 #

    I’m finding it hard to see the criticism for this one. It feels like a proper pop song with a lovely warm production, and a can’t-be-anyone-but-Kylie vocal. It was also, I seem to recall, pretty popular in the provincial nightspots I was beginning to frequent at the time. To me it has a pleasing unhurried laidbackness to the beat and melody, and as others have mentioned some memorable one liners (‘now matter how I take it there’s no way I’m gonna fake it – cos it’s gotta be real’). I also enjoy the coda part of the song a lot (‘I’m not the same, Oo-oh’).

    That said, I really can’t think of many Kylie singles to which I wouldn’t score highly – with the possible exception of Madonna (and personally I can’t find much to like in her post-Like A Virgin career), I can’t think of a more consistent performer at this end of the top 40.

  15. 15
    JLucas on 26 Mar 2015 #

    The other Confide In Me b-side was a fairly faithful cover of Nothing Can Stop Us by Saint Etienne. I wish she’d done more work with Saint Etienne around this time, as I can imagine their pop sensibilities would have been an excellent fit for her voice and image.

    https://youtu.be/3ukJb_Sri8I

  16. 16
    weej on 26 Mar 2015 #

    This song is simply the sound of every bar and every other public space in the summer of 2000. It was just an ok summer, but I still don’t hate the track, so I guess that makes it a 6? It sounds utterly professional, not in a good way or in a bad way, just in a “this is a professional piece of music” way.

    The reception this song had in the media seemed to be basically “look at Kylie’s bum” as much as anything else. It is a nice bum, I’ll concede that. So it was an odd sort of a comeback.

    My two Kylie 10/10s are “Put Yourself In My Place” and “I Believe In You” but unfortunately we won’t be meeting either of them.

  17. 17
    cmmmbase on 26 Mar 2015 #

    #6 – Confide In Me did get released in the US – on the MCA distributed Imago label. It only made #39 in Dance club play though.

  18. 18
    thefatgit on 26 Mar 2015 #

    “Spinning Around” walks the line between uninhibited disco in the chorus and the George Michael model of upbeat sophistipop, in the verses. I can’t be the only one who hears shades of “Fastlove” here. However, it doesn’t detract from the song’s appeal. As comebacks go, it’s a very welcome one. She could have spent all of her time collaborating with Nick Cave, and developed a darker, more indie-friendly career, never returning to chart-friendly pop, but I guess, deep down, she knew what worked best for her.

    Count me in as one more who would have loved to see “Confide In Me” get the Popular treatment. The video’s a kind of anime-come-to-life precursor for 21st century J/K-Pop. She would have got at least a 9 for that one. I can’t go lower than 7 here.

  19. 19
    Kinitawowi on 26 Mar 2015 #

    Says a lot that we’ve said more about (the almighty) Confide In Me than this so far. Can’t really argue – Spinning Around is okay, and it clearly revived a career that seemed to be flagging (I honestly thought she’d given up and disappeared after the Some Kind Of Bliss era – my initial reaction on seeing this in the charts was shock), but it’s the sort of song that’d be prime “long service award number one” fodder if she hadn’t had four already.

    5. (Confide In Me is a 9. And since we’ve lost the whole of Kylie’s 90s, let’s give a shout to the aforementioned Nick Cave collaboration – Where The Wild Roses Grow would probably be a high 7.)

  20. 20
    flahr on 26 Mar 2015 #

    “a comeback hit that only the most churlish anti-pop bore could begrudge.” – this line begging to be followed by some begruding & v. glad to see lockedintheattic take up the mantle.

    The song? Er, it’s the one that goes “I’m/spinning around”, right?

  21. 21
    jim5et on 26 Mar 2015 #

    I love that Can’t Get You Out Of My Head is so immense that its gravitational pull even obliterates the Spoiler Bunny. This is pretty good, smooth pop, but without the huge reservoir of goodwill that Kylie has always had – which goes back to Charlene – we’d have forgotten it.

  22. 22
    daveworkman on 26 Mar 2015 #

    apropos of nothing, I seem to recall that Kylie was interviewed on Chris Moyles’ afternoon show on Radio 1 just before this came out, and it was pretty much an uninterrupted chat for what seemed like an hour, which at the time surprised me quite a bit as I assumed by this point Kylie was an irrelevance in contemporary music, whereas R1 seemed to be treating her like some sort of returning hero…

  23. 23
    Tom on 26 Mar 2015 #

    #21 I made attempts to avoid it but they all came out a bit coy so, yes, I took my chances with the bunny.

    Looking at the reception for Impossible Princess it seems like the NME took the same strong “hands of our music, shameless pop hussy” line it did with Mel C a few years later.

  24. 24
    chelovek na lune on 26 Mar 2015 #

    Hardly outstanding (and I remain underwhelmed by the forthcoming enormous revolving bunny …but…) ; but a welcome, fairly near to pure-pop (+ beats) return to a style that suited Kylie much more than the indie digression, mostly, had. Pleasant enough, it sounds better to my ears now than it did then – and nodding back towards some of her earlier (even SAW) material.

    Before learning of the Paula Abdul connection, I had wondered if the “I like this like THIS” part had been a deliberate allusion to “I Guess I Like It Like That”, which was probably (well, perhaps, certainly) the weakest track (2-Unlimited-sampling.. No…!) on what is generally an underrated and reasonably solid album (“Let’s Get To It”). – a reminder of where she had come from, and evidence of how she had grown….but…maybe not. But – – a little later on she revived the title “Love At First Sight” to create a rather more mature song of that name than the identically-titled piece of pop fluff on her debut album…so maybe…

    Agreeing with the high praise for “Put Yourself In My Place”, which remains my most favoured Kylie single, I think, but also for (going way back – but still after her last no 1 before this one) “What Do I Have To Do”, which, like “Spinning Around”, played off the pop and dance elements against each other pretty successfully.

    So – for all that – a return, if not to full form, at least to a style in which that form might have a chance of blossoming. 6 seems fair

  25. 25
    Phil on 26 Mar 2015 #

    Gosh, what a dull record – competent, well-paced, not over-long, but so dull; even duller than I remembered it being. 4 from me.

    The video, on the other hand – which I didn’t see at the time – jolts my inner teenage boy awake, with that classic frisson of hang on, I’ve just seen what?. There’s an odd combination of titillation and wrongfooting going on: it seems to be calculated to make you (or your inner teenage boy!) feel like you’re seeing a lot more than you are, and then make you feel you’re being shown a lot less than you think you’ve just seen – there’s something rather ostentatiously ‘clean’ and Young Generation-ish about the dance routine at the end, for example. And this, of course, also puts me in mind of the looming megabunny, whose video was a masterclass in showing everything and nothing. (Is this making sense to anyone, or am I just a sad middle-aged man perving over Kylie? Be honest…)

  26. 26
    AMZ1981 on 26 Mar 2015 #

    I think the indie Kylie years were an attempt to deliberately run down her career commercially. It’s unlikely that a string of post SAW style singles would have fared any better in the nineties and would have made her look hopelessly out of touch. Instead what she lost in sales gained her credibility as an artist willing to take risks and explore new ideas. It’s worth noting that she only released two actual albums in the nineties and mainly kept herself visible as a featured artist.

    I think it needs to be said that even by 2000 she was almost a unique kind of celebrity. Despite having spent all of her adult life in the spotlight she avoided any public breakdowns (despite dating the doomed Michael Hutchence) and gave the general impression of being level headed. You get the feeling that she saw her early noughties second wind as a bonus prize and might have been happy as a semi retired pop star occasionally putting on a show for the faithful.

    Was it good timing that she returned to making pop music just in time to catch the pop boom of 2000 or a calculated move? The fact that Spinning Around took off so strongly surprised a lot of people at the time.

    Which takes me on to the song itself. For me it shares something with the 2001 bunny in that I want to like it more than I actually do. I like a lot of her songs and my favourite is a toss up between Better The Devil You Know and (more leftfield) Put Yourself In My Place with the follow up to Spinning Around coming in third. But Spinning Around felt a bit so so listening to the top forty as a nineteen year old and it still does now.

  27. 27
    Auntie Beryl on 26 Mar 2015 #

    The best Kylie singles are the almosts: those that made 1 are almost superb; those that almost did are.

    I can’t give much of a toss about this. 5.

  28. 28
    will on 26 Mar 2015 #

    Agree with the consensus view on this – it’s ok, safe, very much a retreat in artistic terms.

    I must be the only person who actually liked Some Kind Of Bliss – certainly prefer it to this. For me her brief ‘indie Kylie’ phase was a bit of a missed opportunity

  29. 29
    lonepilgrim on 26 Mar 2015 #

    this is pleasant enough but a little bland – I’m not sure that’s entirely Kylie’s fault. She has more talent as a singer than (say) Sheila B Devotion but for me ‘Spinning Around’ lacks the rhythmic richness of ‘Spacer’ or other Chic productions – and if you’re going to go down the retro-disco route then you leave yourself open to such comparisons.
    Nor does the production compare well with more contemporary dance producers who were exploring the potential of digital techniques to manipulate sound and rhythms in new ways – so this song slips by thanks to Kylie’s amiable affect/arse

  30. 30
    Shiny Dave on 26 Mar 2015 #

    I said that “Day and Night” was a solid, unspectacular example of contemporary pop, and I think this is basically the same but a tad better. A high 6.

    I believe a lot of the enormity of the 2001 bunny-buster came from when it was released, but I’m sure we’ll touch on that when Tom gets to it (late autumn, if Popular output goes at the anticipated pace?) and I’ll simply say now that it’s a fair bit better than this. As is “Confide In Me,” obviously.

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