Kylie Minogue – “Light Years”
Reviewed by Christopher Smith
After five rollercoaster years with deconstruction, Kylie began a new century by signing to legendary record label Parlophone, once home of The Beatles. “We don’t have anyone like you on our label” stated their artist manager. “Nobody does” came the reply! The brief was simple, Kylie wanted to make a pop record and regain her status as Princess of pop. With that in mind, an army of writers and producers were assembled to make this a truly great pop masterpiece and reaffirm Kylie’s place at the top of the charts. Kylie’s long time music director and one half of Brothers In Rhythm Steve Anderson was retained, but new hitmakers like Richard Stannard and Julian Gallagher, and Robbie Williams’ chief architect Guy Chambers would contribute between them three-quarters of the final cut. Kylie herself would co-author over half of the material writing any number of outstanding pop classics and gorgeous ballads.
With recording taking place during 1999 and into early 2000, the marketing department went into overdrive that Summer, just to make absolutely sure that everyone alive knew that Kylie was back and better than ever. There is old pop. There is new pop. and there is Kylie Minogue. Let the Light Years begin…
“Light Years” officially begins with a hidden bonus track (you have to ‘rewind’ from the beginning of “Spinning Around” to get it!). Co-written and produced by Johnny Douglas with whom Kylie would collaborate many times during the Parlophone years, its a funky pop number with a very Deee-Lite sound. “Baby, if you wanna be in world, you gotta know the password” sings Kylie, and perhaps knowing there’s a secret track, we are granted access further?
2. Spinning Around
Kylie2000/Return of Kylie, began with this explosive disco/pop anthem that will have anyone up on the dance floor gleefully. Co-written by Paula Abdul (“Straight Up”, “Rush Rush”), who had intended to record the song herself, it was launched in June 2000 to an eagerly awaiting audience. And we lapped it up, didn’t we! Assisted with a simple but effective video, perhaps what really sold this song to the world were THOSE hotpants! “Spinning Around” was just what was needed and fans and the music buying public swarmed to lather appreciation on Kylie. And, after an absence of ten years, it put Kylie back on top of the charts where she so rightfully belongs. Amen.
3. On A Night Like This
Like a long hot summer, the awesome pop continues with harder-edged dance/pop anthem that was released as the second single and precursor to the album’s release in September 2000. Beginning with breathy, whispering words, Kylie builds to unleash her full vocal power in the middle-eight and prove to us all that she still had it. Another brilliant video to promote the song, sees Kylie getting out of a swimming pool with all her clothes on and presenting herself to Dutch actor Rutger Hauer! Later she’s taken to a casino bedecked in diamonds, but what she really wants to do is get back in that swimming pool! The song was again a huge hit peaking at No.1 in Australia and No.2 in the UK, reaffirming Kylie’s renewed popularity.
4. So Now Goodbye
Don’t sit down yet, the disco continues with yet another cracking tune. “So Now Goodbye” sees Kylie in charge once again, telling her former lover that she’s “stayed for way too long”. Even this far in, “Light Years” feels like a greatest hits that any other artist would be proud of. For Kylie, and for us, it’s a new studio album. Yay!
5. Disco Down
With its roots very firmly in the 1970’s a’la Donna Summer, “Disco Down” is a rocking number that makes you wanna ‘burn’ any disco down. So, here’s the first track that could so very easily of been a single. And it conjures up all sorts of images of how the video may of looked…
Camp disco pop now that makes you think Barry Manilow will pop out at any moment. This is the first of two songs co-written by Robbie Williams and long-time collaborator Guy Chambers and it’s such a joyous affair, particularly when Kylie sings “007 heaven, sur la mer”. Perhaps another potential single release had Kylie or Parlophone wanted keep this going for a good two years.
There’s no rest yet, remain on the dance floor for this ‘kooky’ number that beats and bops along and makes you want to roll your arms forward and backwards repeatedly. Kylie wants to spend “time with you, my koocachoo”, let’s hope he appreciated it!
8. Your Disco Needs You
The history of twentieth century gay anthems, records “YMCA”, “I Will Survive” and “Go West” as defining and iconic. The beginning of twenty first century added another one to that list. “Your Disco Needs You”. The second song co-written with Mr Williams and Mr Chambers is a riotous disco/pop number that should be etched into popular culture and taught in schools! Kylie goes uber-camp with this one and clearly loves every second of it. The highlight comes at the end where Kylie takes her voice to its absolute zenith and goes into operatic mode, holding that note till the epic end of this song. This is now a staple of her live performances and concerts, and every time Kylie pulls it off to a standing ovation from her audience.
9. Please Stay
More shimmering pop now with the cool “Please Stay” with its Latin tones, just right for a summer beach party. It was released as a single in December 2000 becoming her fourth consecutive top ten hit in the UK from the album, the first time since the “Rhythm Of Love” years she achieved such a feat. Who knows when we’ll dance again…(!)
10. Bittersweet Goodbye
After nine awesome disco tunes, we get a break and perhaps a smooch with a loved one, with this heartfelt piano ballad, that is certainly the most emotional, beautiful song from Kylie since “No World Without You”. Kylie’s voice simply shines while, and at the same time bringing more than a few tears to the eye. If any track had Christmas single release written all over it, then this is the song. And, oh, if only it had of been…!
So it’s back to the floor with this high octane electro-dance number that will shake away any cobwebs you’ve amassed during the previous track. “Butterfly” is full of life and vitality and is definitely one for the clubs. Indeed, it was released in the US and reached No.14 on the Dance Club Songs chart in 2001, her first showing there for over a decade.
12. Under The Influence Of Love
Kylie’s first non-original recording since “Give Me Just A Little More Time”, is this cover of Californian singer Felice Taylor’s 1967 classic, co-written by the ‘Walrus of Love’ himself, Mr Barry White. It’s catchy and bounces along freely for its short duration and is perfectly placed on an album of this standing.
13. I’m So High
Kylie continues with another effortlessly cool Summer tune now that’s more laid back that its predecessors. It’s a great song for sitting down with a glass of wine and just watching the world go by. “Will you take me pool side, to feel the summer breeze, there’s a place that looks inviting, by the frangipani tree” Kylie tells us at the beginning. Don’t mind if I do!
She’s sung with Jason, Keith and Nick, now she adds former Take That-er Robbie Williams to that list with this glorious, show stopping epic that works especially well in stadiums and concert halls the world over. Lyrically it is superbly crafted with any number of great lines for them both. “You’re dancing with the chairman of the board” boasts Kylie (perhaps a reference to her COTB cover “Give Me Just A Little More Time”?!). “Take a ride on my twelve-cylinder symphony” retorts a sexy Williams with a wink in his eye! “Kids” was released in October 2000 as the third release from her album and the second from his. It was bound to do big business and sold like hotcakes, reaching No.2 in the UK and spending 12 weeks on the top 40 there.
15. Light Years
We go back to 70’s Donna Summer disco for the final and title track of the album. Kylie will be your purser. “Please fasten your seatbelts” she advises us, “the exits are located at the front and the rear of the craft”. And like a jet plane taking off, you can’t help but love the disco beat of this song and the backing vocals that whisk you off the ground and keep you steady at around ten thousand feet for its four-minute duration. Just so you know this is the last track, Kylie thanks us all for “flying KM Air. We hope you had a pleasant flight. Please fly with us again”. We will, I’m sure of that!
After the disappointing end to the deconstruction years and many believing Kylie was finished, “Light Years” was exactly what was required and desperately needed. New century. New start. “Spinning Around” worked its magic, and the world fell in love with Kylie once again. “Light Years” was released in September 2000 and became her first number one in her home country of Australia. Elsewhere the album charted high across Europe, reaching No.2 in the UK, her highest placing since “Enjoy Yourself” and her biggest seller since that release. The supporting tour in 2001 played a big part in the album’s success as Kylie played to sell-out crowds across both continents. And it was during that tour that fans were treated to a new song. One that hadn’t been heard before, nor included on the album. What was it and where had it come from? And more over, would it be released as a single? And who didn’t leave the show singing “la la la”?!
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