Kylie Minogue – “Body Language”
Reviewed by Christopher Smith
The enormous success of “Fever” raised expectations higher than ever before. How could it be topped? Would it be bettered? Following her hugely successful tour of 2002, Kylie paused only briefly before beginning to write and record its successor. Initially the project was called “City Games” with a number of trendy dance tracks written and recorded with the likes of Stannard and Gallagher and Karen Poole. Johnny Douglas would later come on board, together with new ‘blood’ including Ash Thomas, Kurtis Mantronik and Chris Braide, amongst others. The album that would become “Body Language” began to take shape during the Summer of 2003 with recording taking place in London, Spain and Ireland.
With Kylie herself co-authoring around half of the tracks, this would test the strength of her career and her endurance like no other release to date. Particularly as the US had finally succumbed to Kylie Fever the previous year. Its follow up would need to keep her new found success Stateside as well as the rest of the world, where she was more established and loved. So let’s check out this groove and put some vibes on…
The first taster of “Body Language” came from the lead single “Slow” in November 2003. It’s an electro dance number with deep vocals from Kylie. The keyboards build during the verses and choruses till it eventually bursts into life on the final chorus. The title of the album comes from the line in the middle-eight “read my, body language”. The song is infectious with its repetitive lyrics and hypnotic rhythm and is definitely very different from any lead single from Kylie so far. It was hugely successful upon release topping the singles chart in the UK and Australia and reaching the top 10 in 18 countries worldwide. It became her third track to top the US dance hot play chart and made No.91 on the Billboard singles chart.
2. Still Standing
The new feel of “Body Language” continues with this next track, another groovy, electro dance number with a superb synth beat. Kylie is clearly confident about her position “I’m still standing, keeping you dancing yeah”. Later on she regales us with “do you want to hear me sing pop, cause I don’t think I want to stop, and I love it when my beats drop”. Overjoyed. A potential unreleased single…?
3. Secret (Take You Home)
Kylie samples Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam’s 1985 hit “I Wonder If I Take You Home” for the next track as she keeps the sophisticated beat going. “Rushing up on you like a freak in the fast lane, I’m on a mission to whip you into a hurricane” Kylie tells us all at the beginning. “Here’s my secret, I’m a girl who likes her fun, and if you can keep it then you just might be the one”…I can keep a secret, and you can take me home!
“Promises” is another great slice of polished pop-dance, courtesy of Kurtis Mantronik. Kylie’s vocals are soft and sexy set against the electro beat and synth backing track. This was rumoured to of been either the second or third single release, but it never materialised. It has a great Summer feel-good factor about it, and it’s a shame it wasn’t.
5. Sweet Music
The groove and the funky beat continue with the stupendously awesome “Sweet Music”. It clicks right into place from the word go and “puts the fair light on the track” too! This just oozes style and class, with any number of superb lyrics, most notably “every heartbeat babe is the soundtrack to your life”. It certainly is. Wise words.
6. Red Blooded Woman
More trendy dance now with this track written by Karen Poole and Johnny Douglas, which allows Kylie to purr with all her sexual prowess and reel with diva diviness. Like “In Your Eyes” from the previous release, we are reminded of her 2000 hit “Spinning Around” again as Kylie is clearly moved by her man “you got me spinning round, round, round, round”. This was the second single release in March 2004 and peaked at No.4 in Australia and No.5 in the UK, as well as reaching No.24 on the US dance hot play chart.
If you thought “Falling” (1994) was the breathiest song that could be performed by Kylie, then think again. “Chocolate” is a flood of that oh so sticky, sweet confectionery, laced with Kylie’s whisper-quiet, sensual vocals that will make hairs everywhere stick up and leave your mouth gaping wide. The slow, penetrating beat of the backing track will make you groove and grind, building to epic synth strings and a distant hint of a trumpet. This was the third, and ultimately, final single to be taken from the album, reaching No.6 in the UK, No.14 in Australia and charting top 10 in five other territories.
Back to more fast-paced dance now as Kylie tells us “you don’t need love, it’s a question of obsession” and later warns that “obsession is a dangerous state of mind”. This is the second track produced by Kurtis Mantronik and effortlessly flows as a continuation of “Promises”.
9. I Feel For You
Thunder and rain open this track, co-written by Liz Winstanley (“More, More, More”). Its trippy and definitely has that edge like no other track on the album. “Flowers grow, they’re everywhere you go” Kylie tells us at the beginning. They certainly do!
“Someday” follows on from the previous track. It’s darker with a funky underlying tone. Co-written with Icelandic singer Emilíana Torrini (who also co-wrote “Slow”), Kylie’s stark words at the beginning serve as a warning to whomever has bruised her heart: “Precious stone, life goes on, you have abused and used me, now I’m going home”.
11. Loving Days
The funky groove still remains, but “Loving Days” is very much the big ballad of the album. And what a song! With the backing of a full string orchestra, Kylie’s tender voice sweeps across the melody and rises continuously till the spine-tingling middle eight when both strings and voice are unleashed. This is arguably the most epic offering since “Put Yourself In My Place”, and definitely one of the standout tracks on this album.
12. After Dark
Pour yourself a short, put your feet up and just chillax as we soak up the seductive “After Dark”. Written and produced by Cathy Dennis and Chris Braide, this sultry number is a perfect way to wind down after a hard day. “Wanted, your name is on my poster and you’re wanted”, she sings with delicious delight, and who didn’t have one of Kylie on their bedroom wall as a teenager?!
With highly polished and stylised artwork and Kylie sitting astride the albums title in full Brigitte Bardot guise, “Body Language” was released in November 2003. Critical reception was favourable, with one citing it as “stylish without being smarmy, retro without being ironic”. Following a hugely successful album is always difficult and while “Body Language” was not “Fever2”, it was far from being a commercial failure. It entered the UK album chart at No.6 (its highest placing) and was platinum certified there. It peaked at No.2 in Australia and made No.42 in the US, as well as charting high across Europe and the Far East. Perhaps the lack (once again) of any world tour hampered the potential global phenomenon that its predecessor enjoyed. Nevertheless, “Body Language” still sold a good few million copies the world over and perhaps won some new fans along the way.
Kylie would close 2004 with the release of her second hits compilation “Ultimate Kylie” which would, indignantly, surpass “Body Language” in units sold. This was supported by the sellout “Showgirl” tour that took to the road in early 2005, and ended abruptly with the most shocking and upsetting news of all.
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