La la la – Kylie’s most iconic song reaches it’s 20th anniversary!
Yes, twenty years have passed today (8th September) since the release of Kylie’s brand new single, “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”, the first taster of her eighth studio album. Much has been written about this song, perhaps more than any of her pervious recordings and those since, and it’s hardly surprising with global sales of five and a half million copies, over 240 million Spotify plays and with four official videos, all of varying quality, coming in at over 247 million views on YouTube!
With “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”, Kylie went global. Galactic even. Up to this point, “I Should Be So Lucky” was her biggest seller and it seemed that nothing was likely to better that. The mid-late 90’s were an unforgiving time for Kylie. The initial majesty of her self-titled 1994 album was followed by the lack of a tour and a gap between the second and third singles that lost all exposure for this absolute giant of a record. Kylie then went into a box, really, she did get into a cardboard box, and came out a sometime Indie Queen with the Manic Street Preachers and Dave ‘Soft Cell’ Ball to ‘create’ a dark and torrid piece of work that became “Impossible Princess“.
The critics and the media were unkind to her and dug the sword of Damocles in deep as the little one from down under was deemed to of passed her sell by date. But…Kylie was having none of it. Having cleared her mind and cleansed her soul, she bounced back at the very beginning of a new century, spun herself around boarded a plane to a destination, “Light Years” away. And we all breathed a sigh of relief when she had re-discovered herself once more. “Light Years” was merely relaunch material. It was useful for a comeback, but the main event was not that far away. Kylie’s quest for the very pinnacle of pop celebrity began in 2000 itself as she prepared for her On A Night Like This tour. Former British pop star Cathy Dennis had finished moving to this and hooked up with Mud guitarist Rob Davis to write a little ditty titled “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”.
The pair did not have a particular singer or group in mind when they wrote the song and in fact, had all things worked out and gone to plan, Sophie Ellis-Bextor would have recorded it and released it as part of her debut album, “Read My Lips”. But SEB was having none of it and much preferred to commit “Murder On The Dancefloor”. Dennis was, at the time, chief songwriter for S Club 7 (“Reach”, “Never Had A Dream Come True”) and it was hoped they would keep their running tally of chart toppers coming into 2001. But there was a third contender for the song, one Miss Kylie Minogue. Upon hearing 20 seconds of the song, she knew she had to have it for her next album, which was in production. Kylie popped it into the set list of her tour just to let fans know that she was not sitting idle and there was more new music on the way.
It received a fair appraisal in amongst Kylie camping it up for “Loveboat” and “Koocachoo” as the industry watched to see what her next move would be. Had “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” been recorded by ‘another artist/s’ or even made it as an album track, then it would of perhaps slipped by without too much attention. But what Kylie’s now honed intuition told her was that it needed a killer video and mass promotion to really make people stand up. Recording and photo sessions took place in July and August 2001. Kylie joined forces with Dawn Shadforth, who had focused the camera on her bottom and her gold hotpants for “Spinning Around” to create a visually striking and CGI backed video that screamed the future with an almost robotic feel to it. The imagery was in itself ground breaking with Kylie driving down the road in her sports car to the white architecture of cavernous buildings and a backdrop of skyscrapers lighting the night sky.
If that wasn’t enough, Kylie herself was dressed to win the race. Two outfits would become memorable from this video. THAT dress and the mirror garment worn at the end of the video. The latter sees Kylie ooze majesty as she safely struts her stuff, repeating again and again that she “just can’t get you out of my head” with the lights in the skyscrapers turning on and off, providing a dance floor arena for her to perform in. The former was simply a masterpiece. Offering perhaps the most audacious glimpse of Kylie as a woman yet. The white cat suit was indeed held in place by sellotape and perhaps we are grateful for that as Kylie may have won the day purely on pause and not for the song itself! But what race I hear you ask? What did Kylie win? Was there anything to win over with this release?
The competition came from Victoria ‘Posh Spice’ Beckham with her debut solo single, “Not Such An Innocent Girl”. The thinking from her camp was that with the group’s success, ‘Posh’ would follow suite with her own solo career. They could not have picked a worse week to release. 17th September was the date both songs were available in the UK and with Kylie’s video already on repeat play on music channels 24 hours a day, ‘Posh’ was in for a hiding. First week sales told the story of this chart battle which was not to be. ‘Posh’ – 35,000 vs Kylie – 306,000, her best opening in week one and a sure-fire number one, her sixth in the UK so far. Worldwide, sales told a similar story with “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” going to number one in forty countries, her most successful single release yet. And this time it wasn’t just international…
Kylie had been without a hit in America since “The Locomotion” (No.3) and although “Confide In Me” had found favour there in 1994, it was “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” that America re-discovered the Kylie magic, taking the song to the top of the Club chart and to No.7 on the singles chart, her best since the aforementioned Little Eva cover, some thirteen years earlier. To date, CGYOOMH has sold over 590,000 copies there with a further 1,500,000 in the UK, her biggest seller there, and still is to date. The scale of the success of “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” took even Kylie by surprise as it was for the album that was to follow, “Fever“. Unprecedented millions sold across the world and chart placing not enjoyed before of since by a Kylie long player. This continued into 2002 with her Fever2002 world tour, her most ambitious yet and all off the back of one song, “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”.
History has been and continues to be kind to this anthem. The digital era allows continued streaming and the purchase of the song for just a few pence, no longer an ex-catalogue item, long since vanished, but a commodity available to buy every second of the day. With video viewings, it seems we cannot get Kylie or this song out of our heads and even now with the many variations on the original concept now performed at her live shows, Kylie regenerates and refreshes her most iconic sound time and time again, be it orchestral (“Abbey Road“), rock (Hyde Park 2018) or with a splash of “Blue Monday” (Brit Awards 2002), and who would have thought it back in 1988 when “I Should Be So Lucky”, the sacred cow, was number one and Kylie’s signature tune? Just one thing, twenty years later, can you still remember how this one goes…?(!)
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