Kylie Minogue – “Aphrodite”
Reviewed by Christopher Smith
Having spent some time promoting and touring with “X”, a rejuvenated Kylie wasted no time at all in planning for what would be her eleventh studio album in early 2009. The brief was simple, a great pop-dance album to shake your body to at the club. It was her mate Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters who recommended Stuart Price to helm the project and create a twenty first century non-stop dancetastic masterpiece. Price had previously worked with Scissor Sisters, as well as Gwen Stefani, but was most known for his co-production of Madonna’s hit album “Confessions On A Dancefloor”.
Recording began in April 2009, and carried on into the Spring of 2010. Calvin Harris (“In My Arms”) would also take part as well as Pascal Gabriel (“Your Love” from ‘Fever’) and British singer-songwriter Nerina Pallot who would contribute to two songs. Around twenty songs were recorded during this period, twelve of which would make the final cut. By the Summer of 2010 the Kylie machine was ready to roll into action once again and then we could all dance…that’s all we wanted to do!
So won’t you dance – again…
1. All The Lovers
The dance spectacular begins with this monumental, atmospheric anthem that unites and brings together lovers the world over. It’s “I Believe In You” blended with “More, More, More” from ’Fever’ with a liberal helping of Kylie magic. Written by Jim Eliot and Mima Stilwell who wrote “2 Hearts”, the song was released to the world in June 2010, together with a stunning video featuring a mountain of naked bodies as high as a skyscraper, crowned with a gorgeous Kylie sporting long curly hair and looking full of life and vitality. “All The Lovers” was bound to be popular and set the charts alight within an instant. Critics hailed it one of her finest ever recordings. The song charted at No.3 in the UK and was certified Gold there, her biggest seller since “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”. It made the top 10 in more than a dozen countries globally and topped the US dance hot play chart, as well as reaching No.102 on the Billboard singles chart. They don’t compare, to this!
2. Get Outta My Way
We are taken to the floor now with a full-on, hard-edged club/dance tune that builds and builds through verse, two bridges and eventually a power chorus with strong, confident vocals in which Kylie tells her jilted lover to “get outta my way, got no more to say”. Its production comes courtesy of Mich Hedin Hansen aka Cutfather, and it’s a refined and polished affair, that easily matches the likes of “In Your Eyes” and “On A Night Like This”. Kylie premiered the song on America’s Got Talent together with superb choreography using white chairs to frame her as she performed the song. This would give an insight to the video which followed, set against a backdrop of blue and purple laser lighting. “Get Outta My Way” was released as the second single in September 2010 and quickly established itself as a dance classic, hitting the charts hard that Autumn. It peaked at No.12 in the UK and again topped the US dance hot play chart, as well as proving popular across Europe and Far Eastern territories. Sadly this was not reflected in Australia where the song only reached No.69, her lowest chart position ever attained. Nevertheless, “Get Outta My Way” has become a firm fan favourite and ranks high on Kylie’s discography.
3. Put Your Hands Up
Stay on the floor, there’s not time to pause as the next floor filler kicks off without intro and sparks into action, so “put your hands up if you feel love” and keep them there! We’re deep into club heaven now courtesy of the Finlay Dow-Smith aka Starsmith and Stuart Price production, that explodes with euphoria in the middle-eight complete with electro guitars that will make you jump and dance your socks off. Kylie gets us ready for it with words like “all I need is the love I get from you, and I want to scream it out, if you hear what I’m saying” and then it’s hands up to worship this glorious offering. The song was released as the fourth and final single in 2011, together with a previously unreleased track “Silence”. It reached No.93 in the UK and No.51 in Australia, but once again topped the US dance hot play chart, meaning for the first time ever, all four singles from one Kylie album achieving this placing Stateside.
No, not the “Closer” that was the B side to “Finer Feelings” in 1992, but a new composition from Stuart Price and Beatrice Hatherley, and you could be forgiven for thinking that Kylie had teamed up with Beethoven or Mozart for this one! The sound of harpsichord and violin open this track, prior to Kylie entering the room with the bold statement “we’ll redesign, where we combine”. The vocals are very robotic throughout as we build to the chorus of “closer and closer and closer”. It’s not as thumping as its two predecessors but you could certainly create some weird stop/start hand dance to this number.
5. Everything Is Beautiful
Slower-paced still is the floating, breezy “Everything Is Beautiful”. Effortlessly cool and perfect for chilling out after all that dancing, the song is co-written by Tim Rice-Oxley of British pop-rock group Keane. It’s all about the process of falling in love and that is summed up precisely in lyrics like “and now I’m traveling at such blissful speed, no need to think at this velocity”. Awh!
Title track time and it’s a drumtastic, patriotic symphony, that could well serve as The National Anthem of Kylie, played everytime she walks into a room or on stage. “I’m fierce and I’m feeling mighty, I’m a golden girl, I’m an Aphrodite” – all hail Queen Kylie! The chanting continues with “I’m going back and forth and forth and back, can you feel me in stereo?”. The chorus has such a great feel-good factor about it and is awash with keyboards and synth drums. Written by Nerina Pallot, it’s one of the standout tracks on an album that’s full of them, and should of been released as a single. Indeed, it actually reached No.6 in Belgium, despite no formal single release or video! “Alright”!
“Aaaaaaah aaaah aaah” sings Kylie, a bit of plinky plonkyness then WHOMP, thumping beats herald the beginning of the funky “Illusion”. If you’re surrounded by confusion, then get lost in this illusion. Written by Kylie and Stuart Price its perfect dream pop, as Kylie “follows her dreams into distant lands”. It leaves the same way it arrived, with more dreamy “Aaaaaaah aaaah aaah”s.
8. Better Than Today
Nerina Pallot returns for a second track, produced by Price, it’s the closest sound to a S.A.W. song since Kylie left PWL in 1992. It was actually recorded by Pallot the previous year as an acoustic number and included on her ‘Buckminster Fuller’ EP. However, shortly after she began working with Kylie the song was given to her and Stuart Price, who layered extensive drum programming and keyboards over the original track to produce something more akin to a track from “Rhythm Of Love“. It was released in December 2010 and peaked at No.32 in the UK and No.55 in Australia. As with the two previous singles, it eventually reached the top of the US dance hot play chart.
9. Too Much
“Got to have it, it’s like a shockwave to my brain” announces Kylie even before any music has forewarned us of its arrival. The pace picks up with this Kylie/Calvin Harris number that bristles with life and vibrancy. Another contender for a potential single, perhaps…? It’s too much. But is it ‘too much’ for you?!
10. Cupid Boy
A low-key guitar opens the suave and sophisticated “Cupid Boy”, that bursts into an awesome rock-synth dance spectacular. It’s darker in style to the rest of the album, but features hauntingly high vocals from Kylie and brilliant synth snares throughout. And it’s another song to consists of two verses and two bridges before we get to the almighty chorus. It’s another standout track that could so easily have been a single too. She’s falling in love (again) and explains it “feels like heaven in your arms, sky rocket to Mars, straight through to your heart”. Got it all sown up then!
11. Looking For An Angel
More chilled out dance to help you wind down now, with the gorgeous, angelic “Looking For An Angel”. It’s effortless and sublime, and like candy kisses, it will melt into your soul without any fuss or bother. It’s simple in its design and execution, but isn’t that the best way for great songs? And Kylie puts it plain and clear to us all “when good things are good I want to share them, I don’t want to be alone”. And we thank you for this little bit of heaven X.
12. Can’t Beat The Feeling
Don’t hang up your shoes, we’re not done yet, as the electro-beat and synths of “Can’t Beat The Feeling” swing into action and whisk you into a dance frenzy. It’s overjoyed, unadulterated A1 class dance/pop at its very best. A worthy successor to “Love At First Sight” and yet another standout track that once again, could have been a huge hit single. “There doesn’t have to be a reason, there doesn’t have to be a why” Kylie tells us at the beginning, and there are no excuses at all for this outstanding final fling. “Feel the pulse of the reaction, let it take you on a ride” – do it, have it, love it. Job done.
The announcement of “All The Lovers” at the beginning of June 2010 was quickly followed with the news that Kylie’s forthcoming eleventh studio album would be called “Aphrodite”. Released the following month, the success of “All The Lovers” together with an intense marketing and promotion schedule, ensured that “Aphrodite” would be given maximum exposure to Kylie’s fan base and far beyond. For the first time since “Fever”, a Kylie album would top both the UK and Australian chart. In both those territories it was certified Platinum. It reached the top 10 in a total of 23 countries across the world, again the most successful release since “Fever” eight years previously. “Aphrodite” reawakened interest in the US when it entered the Billboard chart at No.19, her second highest placing Stateside after “Fever”.
There’s no denying “Aphrodite” was a resounding success and that was further enhanced with the ‘Aphrodite Les Folies’ world tour of 2011. With a production budget of £25m, the most expensive yet mounted by Kylie, it would take to the road for six months, during which time Kylie would play a total of 77 concerts to over 300,000 adoring fans and supporters. Once again Kylie was back on top, proving after more than twenty years in the business she had staying power and able to silence her critics once and for all. Kylie would go back to the past for her next venture and revisit some old favourites with a brilliant new twist.
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