Mar 15

KYLIE MINOGUE – “Spinning Around”

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#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. 31
    Ed on 27 Mar 2015 #

    Thanks to all on this thread for reminding me of Confide In Me, which has brightened up my week no end. I remembered it mostly for the guitar lick borrowed from The End, which I thought at the time was a pretty cool move for Kylie to have made, but the whole song is absolutely gorgeous. As Izzy says @9, the video is terrible, but it’s interesting for the jarring contrast between the old Kylie we can see and the new Kylie we can hear.

    SA itself is quite dull, I agree, but with the benefit of hindsight it’s part of an important trend in 2000. There is something big coming, and different performers and producers are groping around trying to find it. Kylie, Madison Avenue, another big bunny coming up quite soon, are like evolutionary first steps or prototypes. They are test runs for the moon shot that hit the following year.

  2. 32
    swanstep on 27 Mar 2015 #

    Wow, I disagree wholeheartedly with the Tom-led consensus here, and give this an 8.

    I’m amazed that no one so far has mentioned ‘Spinning Around”s bass part since it’s the core of the record. Kylie can shake her arse all she wants but *why* that made so much sense for her here and was so effective is over to Paul Spalding’s ever-in-motion, always in-the-pocket bass. When was the last time a Popular #1 had a part that was genuinely sharp and that immediately sent musicians all over the world scurrying to figure it out and how to play it?
    Much of the rest of the track is stock I’d say, (although the main disco guitar figure and withholding its return almost to the end of the second verse is delightful), and it’s a real shame that, having come up with a Rock-With-You/Thinking-Of-You level bass-part, the beats are left as dreary programs. I think SA is one of Kylie’s best records and bought Light Years at the time on its strength (sadly nothing else on the album was nearly as good in my view), and I prefer it to her forthcoming Bunnysaurus (which I never much liked until she mashed it up with ‘Blue Monday’).

    The track I most associate and readily compare with SA (although checking now it was a little later) is Ellis-Bextor’s near-Bunny ‘Murder On The Dance-floor’. While MOTD has more vocal and melodic personality than SA, it doesn’t have SA’s killer inventive bass and isn’t half as successful a dance record as SA for that reason.

    Oh, I’m not the same/You like it like this

  3. 33
    Cumbrian on 27 Mar 2015 #

    The chorus is catchy enough that all these years later, I was able to hum it to myself without the need to go back to the source and I definitely hear TheFatGit’s call out of Fastlove on the verses. It’s reasonable enough, I think, without setting the world on fire and 5 or 6 seems about right to me. I’d probably err on the side of a 6.

    Other things:

    4: Who and why are people defending Kara DioGuardi? After seeing this comment, I went to her Wiki songs page and cross-referenced with Youtube and this song is about the only one that she’s been involved in (and it was co-written by three others, including Paula Abdul, according to the credits) that is in any way memorable as far as I am concerned. Her stock in trade seems to be what the detractors of this are complaining about – i.e. boring and safe pop music. It’s not a pejorative question, I’m interested in knowing what her skills are because I am obviously not getting it.

    16: Ah, yes. The video. This comeback was definitely based on some element of sex appeal as much as the songs themselves – that Agent Provocateur ad came out around about now too, which, as I had a fast internet connection at university for the first time in my life, was the first experience I had of a piece of video going viral through the net. May well be the best thing The Hives were ever involved in too. Anyway, I thought that the songs around Kylie’s comeback were pretty decent, more than from her first or second go around anyway (with the odd exception – Better The Devil You Know and Confide In Me being two), although, on reflection, it’s the 4 singles off Fever which give me that impression. We’ll get to those later, I suppose.

  4. 34
    Alan Connor on 27 Mar 2015 #

    I wish I could find the Viz pull-out poster that explained in alimentary detail how Kylie’s arse worked.

  5. 35
    Cumbrian on 27 Mar 2015 #

    Looking at the chart in the week got this to #1: does anyone know why FTGH’s Power Of Love is at #6? Don’t remember that happening at all and definitely stands out as a bit of an oddity. This was also the week David Gray’s Babylon hit the charts – but I think we talked about him a few entries back.

  6. 36
    Rory on 27 Mar 2015 #

    Our previous spin through Kylie’s 1980s number ones prompted me to take the plunge with her post-SAW albums, even though I (still) couldn’t abide the SAW stuff – I was giving 3s or 4s where Tom was giving 6s and 7s. “Confide in Me” was, even at the time, the first Kylie single I positively liked, and it still sounded great; of her Deconstruction albums, Impossible Princess was the most interesting to my 2010s ears, with “Some Kind of Bliss” a highlight (so yay, Will @ 28). I can’t really buy AMZ1981’s “run down her career” theory; what her SAW successes had bought her was the luxury to explore, and in her 20s that would have been a natural inclination; she was her own woman now. Who deliberately tries to make unappealing music (apart from notable examples of end-of-contract Fuck Yous to record labels and/or critics)? Even if it didn’t appeal to the public as much at that particular time, I would assume it appealed to her.

    It isn’t as if she stopped having hits. Kylie was still very much in the limelight through the 1990s from an Australian point of view, where “Confide in Me” was number one for five weeks. If anything, the early ’90s were her fallow period there, with no top-ten hits since 1991; the 1992 Let’s Get To It singles did far better in the UK than in Australia. (See also – perhaps not coincidentally – INXS’s Welcome to Wherever You Are singles that year.) Kylie also had a number two single in Oz with Nick Cave with “Where the Wild Roses Grow” in 1995. Impossible Princess peaked at number 4 there in ’98, which wasn’t bad considering the musical landscape of the time; she wasn’t being seen as yesterday’s news, even if the album didn’t contain any hit singles. The two-year gap between that and Light Years was nothing, really. “Spinning Around” was some kind of return, but hardly a case of coming in from the wilderness.

    I liked it well enough at the time; it reminds me of a specific party in Melbourne at the end of 2000 where Light Years and ABBA Gold featured heavily. It seemed very much tied in with the ABBA revival, even though Gold had been out for several years; that album had just been remastered and re-released, which may be why it was in people’s minds again.

    Listening to it today, “Spinning Around” is more than a run-of-the-mill 5 to my ears; it’s got a hooky chorus, and goes straight into it, and it gets the vibe just right (and thankfully there was no Gaye family hovering in the wings). It isn’t the album’s highlight – that would be “On a Night Like This” – but I’d go a 6, and on the right night a 7. A good one or two points higher than my highest SAW Kylie score, then, which feels right.

  7. 37
    Andrew on 27 Mar 2015 #

    #35 trance-lite remix by Rob Searle

  8. 38
    Izzy on 27 Mar 2015 #

    32: the bassline is excellent, and yes it’s unlike any others I can think of. I’d never particularly noticed it before, but I am taken with there being a muso nerd community where licks like that, or the snare sound on Breaking Glass, rather than Live Aid or Britney’s début, are a year’s big events. Where do these people congregate, where can I get a piece of that action?

  9. 39
    Cumbrian on 27 Mar 2015 #

    #37: Cheers. A new one on me and, having been to Youtube to check it out, isn’t really doing anything for me either.

  10. 40
    IP on 27 Mar 2015 #

    I’m very fond of “Your Disco Needs You”, which I think wasn’t released in the UK as a single. It’s “Disco Kylie” to the point of cartoonishness, but for me it’s up there with the best of Trevor Horn and the Pet Shop Boys for gratuitous pop overload. Maybe it would have been a number one in 1988.

  11. 41
    Rory on 27 Mar 2015 #

    #40, I’d forgotten that one – yeah, it’s great. Definite mid-album highlight. It did get a UK single release, but peaked at #152; staggeringly low, given what came before and after it. (Two other top ten 10 hits from Light Years plus her Robbie Williams duet, and Bunnysaurus.) I guess everyone who wanted the track had already bought Light Years by then. Also possibly implicated in January 2001: peak Napster. Still reached number 20 in Oz.

  12. 42
    JLucas on 27 Mar 2015 #

    Your Disco Needs You was definitely not given a full commercial release in the UK. The #152 peak is from import sales – it was released in Europe.

    The other big missed opportunity from Light Years for me is ‘Disco Down’, which is just wistful pop perfection.

  13. 43
    Rory on 27 Mar 2015 #

    Ah right, that’s a more sensible explanation. That’ll show me for trusting Wikipedia.

  14. 44
    Andrew on 27 Mar 2015 #

    The title track and ‘Butterfly’ are also Light Years highlights.

    ‘Your Disco Needs You’ was written with Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers; arguably the best song either has ever been involved in.

  15. 45
    wichitalineman on 27 Mar 2015 #

    My memory of this was was a general sense of relief and good will – “Yay, Kylie sounds like Kylie again”. It felt like an easy number one, especially given the disco revival. How much more comfortable this still feels than Geri’s efforts. A high 6 for me.

  16. 46
    wichitalineman on 27 Mar 2015 #

    NOW watch. This ended up on disc one of Now 46, which is a pretty solid collection. Aaliyah’s Try Again and Mary Mary’s Shackles stand out as genuine masterpieces – Sex Bomb and When A Woman (how did anyone think that even sounded like a song title? Entirely half arsed), not so much. There’s still a bunny on Disc 2 so I’ll keep schtum.

    1. “Oops!… I Did It Again” Britney Spears
    2. “Reach” S Club 7
    3. “It Feels So Good” Sonique
    4. “Shackles (Praise You)” Mary Mary
    5. “Gotta Tell You” Samantha Mumba
    6. “When a Woman” Gabrielle
    7. “Spinning Around” Kylie Minogue
    8. “Sex Bomb” Tom Jones and Mousse T
    9. “The Bad Touch” Bloodhound Gang
    10. “Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)” Shania Twain
    11. “Day and Night” Billie Piper
    12. “2 Faced” Louise
    13. “Try Again” Aaliyah
    14. “Bye Bye Bye” ‘N Sync
    15. “Ghetto Romance” Damage
    16. “When I Said Goodbye” Steps
    17. “New Beginning” Stephen Gately
    18. “The One” Backstreet Boys
    19. “Porcelain” Moby
    20. “Yellow” Coldplay
    21. “A Song for the Lovers” Richard Ashcroft

  17. 47
    Rory on 27 Mar 2015 #

    Wikipedia duly amended. Here’s an Official Charts piece on YDNY as a lost Pop Gem.

  18. 48
    Alan on 27 Mar 2015 #

    EDIT: oh never mind, I see this was covered in the time I eventually decided to post something!

    As CGYOOMH has been invoked is it anticipating too much to have a moment’s silence for the “lost Kylie single” (at least in the UK) “Your Disco Needs You”. I never checked what the story was with how it missed the charts? (I *think* it was released, right?)

  19. 49
    Rory on 27 Mar 2015 #

    Fascinating to contemplate how “Your Disco” might have fared in today’s digital download era. If Wikipedia is to be trusted (if!), only 10,000 copies were pressed of the Australian release, which would be another explanation for its relatively low peak there. If there had been no physical constraint on availability, who knows?

    (P.S., give us the goss on #10/#15, wichita!)

  20. 50
    Phil on 27 Mar 2015 #

    “Your Disco” is magnificent. I was sold by the time the drum track came in, never mind the vocal – talk about “you had me at Hello”. It’d be a very solid 9, and the only thing that kept it from an instant 10 was that I couldn’t help feeling it’d sound even better with vocals by Neil Tennant. (Also, the video does none of the “now you see it, a-ha did you see it at all?” malarkey of SA and the future bunny, so it’s not just me – I’m happy about that.)

  21. 51
    Kinitawowi on 27 Mar 2015 #

    #35 and #46: Now! 46 Disc 2 reveals the FGTH rerelease as a “Rob Searle Club Mix”, so possibly it found a new life as an underground banger, or something.

  22. 52
    lockedintheattic on 27 Mar 2015 #

    I loathe Your Disco Needs You even more than Spinning Around (which is just bland in comparison). For me it is the utter low point of her 90s career (actually, the awful french bit in the middle eight would be the specific low point). It’s just too unsubtle, too obvious, too ‘hello! i’m a gay icon! here’s a record for the gays’. Not the sexy or subtle Kylie which comes out in her best records. In my head it’s a pair with the Pet Shop Boys’ similarly dreadful New York City Boy from the previous year.

    Which probably makes me sound like a bit of a pop reject – which I’m absolutely not (of her 90s/00s singles up to this album, Finer Feelings, Put Yourself in my Place, Confide in me, Where is the feeling, Breathe, Please stay and On a night like this would all easily be 8+ from me).

  23. 53
    IP on 27 Mar 2015 #

    #46: I *loved* Sex Bomb the first time I heard it. I was living in the States and didn’t know it was a Tom Jones song.

    It’s, er, worn off on me a little since then. I still like it, but I’m not sure I could be seen in public dancing to it.

  24. 54
    Mark M on 27 Mar 2015 #

    Re46: Yes, Shackles! Random but brilliant god-repping hit.
    Try Again is astonishing. I’d been planning to wait until the end of the year round-up to talk about it more.

  25. 55
    Matthew K on 28 Mar 2015 #

    I gather there’s no bunny prohibition of my favourite Kylie – “Come Into My World” – but I can’t decide whether that’s because of the pulsing Kraftwerking of the backing track, or the bewitching multiplex Michel Gondry video. It’s one of the things I mean when I say “pop music”.
    “Spinning Around” is polished but really I feel Moloko should have had its success instead. Lack of hotpants, presumably.

  26. 56
    Billy Hicks on 28 Mar 2015 #

    35/46/51: I love, love, *love* the Rob Searle mix of Frankie’s Power of Love at a level with the original, and am aware I’m probably alone on Popular for thinking so. The radio edit absolutely screws it up by repeating the chorus twice and generally cutting it too much – plus on Now 46 it sounds like it’s been copied from a dodgy Napster mp3 and sounds a bit compressed, but the full mix is absolutely sublime and one of the best trance remixes of a track I can think of. Up there with Ferry’s mix of Adagio for Strings and Airscape’s mix of Silence.

    My only memory of it is Christmas shopping with a friend in Oxford Street about nine years later, hearing the usual Mariah/Pogues/Slade culprits on the store speakers only to be unexpectedly *blasted* with the Rob Searle POL remix, to many’s confusion at what the hell they were hearing.

  27. 57
    JoeWiz on 28 Mar 2015 #

    Surprised about the minor flogging this has got. To me, it’s bright, breezy and fresh- a perfect hello it’s me again from ‘our’ beloved Kylie. The main thing I remember about this period was the idea she’d come to terms with the idea she was a big bold look at me pop star. There’s a 98(ish) TFI interview where Evans attempts to get her sing ISBSL. She cringes beyond belief and does it firmly tongue in cheek. By 2000, she seemed much more comfortable with her past. And why wouldn’t she be?

  28. 58
    Ed on 29 Mar 2015 #

    @54 Seconded on Try Again, which is, as you say, astonishing. It’s like a number one from some super-advanced alien civilisation that we can’t understand, only marvel at.

  29. 59
    swanstep on 29 Mar 2015 #

    @Ed, et al.. I’m not sure what you’re hearing in ‘Try Again’. To me it feels exactly of its time and undistinguished compared to ‘Jumpin Jumpin’ and other comparable Destiny’s Child sides from 2000.

  30. 60
    Lazarus on 29 Mar 2015 #

    Same here, I had another listen and it didn’t exactly leap out at me either. ‘More than a Woman’ though, that’s another matter.

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