Album review: Kylie Minogue - Kiss me once

Album review: Kylie Minogue - Kiss me once | Random J Pop

After Kylie's hard left with Impossible princess left polarising impressions across the board in its wake, she was never going to take such a drastic risk again. But to be content with delivering an album which feels so deliberately by numbers and safe is disappointing from a woman at a point in her career who can afford to take bigger risks musically and should be a lot more fearless. This may be much to ask from a woman who has always been more of a vessel than than a controller. But one would hope that with so many years worth of experience in the biz under their belt that Kylie would be a lot less complacent and even bored with adhering to a formula for so many years. But Kylie seems to be the type of pop star who thrives in the familiar comfort of the safety zone, not in uncharted territories and Kiss me once is safe as it gets.

There are occasions where Kylie allows herself to have a foot outside of the safety zone and on these moments her material shines. "I was gonna cancel" is a great slice of 70's disco courtesy of Pharrell Williams. "If only" is a great big 80's style power ballad from Ariel Rechtshaid (Sky Ferreira's Night time, my time). "Into the blue" is a big Summer mid-tempo with a rousing chorus complete with the obligatory Island style "Oh-oh's". All three of these tracks also feature the most insightful lyrics which feel tailored for Kylie. insightful as Kylie allowed them to be. She's never been pop's most giving celebrity in regards to her personal life. But it's nice to have three songs which scratch beneath the surface of Kylie selling sex and saying she'll do things that we know she would never do in a million years. These songs in particular carry more weight given her semi-recent split from her beau of 6 years Andrés Velencoso. There is also "Sparks" which is completely unlike anything Kylie has done before; sounding like something from Friendly fires' Pala or Van She's Idea of happiness. The album would have benefited from a song such as this in place of the outdated "Sexy love" or the horrid duet with Enrique Iglesias, yet it was relegated to a B-side on a single which was clinging to the charts by its fingertips. These songs each exhibit Kylie doing something new, yet within the scope of what Kylie would do - so it's disappointing that 80% of the album is a retread of what she has done countless times before. So many different producers were name dropped in interviews as being tied to this project that I was anticipating this album with the expectation of hearing something fresh and new. So I was disappointed to find that many of these collaborations were so spectacularly culled for the final track list in favour of a bunch of songs which are so safe and pedestrian, very few of which are that good.

There are a couple of moments where safe Kylie delivers. "Million miles" is to this album what "Get outta my way" was to Aphrodite - a song which hones in on what Kylie does best. The second verse is a mess and the lack of an epically euphoric build in the bridge is disappointing. But the chorus is such a winner, that it balances out the shortcomings. "Feels so good" is a cover of Tom Aspaul's "Indiana" and it fits her like a glove. A seductively minimal 80's style groove courtesy of MNEK; with its bubbling synths which feel as though they're constantly flirting with the idea of taking off, but never quite do. It's a great track and one which would make a sound choice for a down-tempo moment to punctuate her tour.

Lyrically Kylie has never had much to say. So for her to deliver a bunch of tracks about vacuous drivel is pretty much what we would expect. But even so there are a greater number of ways to sing about what Kylie sings about on this album. "Sexercise" is tongue in cheek fun. We get it. But "Les sex" does it all better to the point we didn't need it. Kylie also pulled this card on 2007's X with "Nu-di-ty" and "Speakerphone" both of which were better songs. I don't hate "Sexercise" as much as many others do. In fact, I've grown to quite like it for what it is in conjunction with the music video. But the song is redundant within the grand scheme of Kylie and I would have much rather heard the other song she cut with Pharrell or the material she cut with Rodney Jerkins in its place. I'd even take "Skirt" over it.

Aphrodite was seen as a return to form, being one of Kylie's most consistent albums since Fever. But it felt like an album from somebody who had been caught with their tail between their legs - that tail being her 10th studio album X which received a rather murky reception. What Aphrodite lacked however was character, something which X and Kiss me once feature more of. Kiss me once has Kylie adopting different personas between tracks and also shows a greater breadth of her vocals than Aphrodite ever did. Kiss me once in a nutshell is a retrospective look at Kylie. Each song sounds as though it was pulled from a past era of Kylie's. From the Fever club stompings of "Million miles", to the dirty bass warblings of "Sexercise" from X and the PWL heyday nostalgia of the album title track "Kiss me once". But the problem with this album is that despite it condensing many of Kylie's eras into one album, as a whole the entire thing feels so characterless and irrelevant. Kylie and co seemed so overly careful with trying to colour within the Kylie-confines, that everybody seemed to completely neglect any attempt at going outside of the lines to help push Kylie's brand forward musically. The end result is a regressive album which isn't the best showcase of Kylie on a global level. The tour in support of this album may help bring it to life; but as it is, Kiss me once feels too superficial and bland to be remembered years from now.

There is nothing notable about this album, other than it features a song produced by Pharrell Williams - which is a tagline for so many albums in pop at the moment that it's become a standard. Kiss me once is a definite grower. I find myself liking more of the songs the more that I listen to it. But there is still something cold and disconnected about this album which makes it hard for me to fall for in the same way I fell for Fever. It's just another case of Kylie playing things far too safe and doing what others had done years before her, rather than being the one to put that first step forward and blaze a trail. Aphrodite saw her enlist Stuart Price as an executive producer years after Madonna did the same for her acclaimed Confessions on a dance floor. Kylie enlists Pharrell Williams to produce songs for her. Madonna had already been there, done that and bought the i am OTHER T-shirt back in 2008 with Hard candyKiss me once now sees Kylie enlist Sia as an executive producer in the wake of her being tied to numerous songs which have littered the top 20 singles chart for the past 3 years. No doubt Christina Aguilera fans are calling the Australian pop star out for doing what Aguilera did 4 years ago with Bionic - Red lipped theme for the album art, working with Sia before everybody else began to and provocating sex for a third of an album.

Fans feared that Kylie's signing to Roc Nation would mean a complete shift in her sound. I was hoping this wouldn't be the case initially. But having heard this album I'm almost wishing the shift had happened - just to hear Kylie do something new. Kylie has always managed to team up with producers who are able to fit everything into her brand of pop, but the problem here is that Kylie doesn't feel like she really matter on any of the songs. Kiss me once is just is.

Album highlights:
■ Million miles
■ I was gonna cancel
■ Feels so good
■ If only ★ J's fave


  1. Aside from "I Was Gonna Cancel", your faves are my faves (+ Kiss Me Once), especially "If Only"; that song is a godsend and it NEEDS to be a single NOW if she wants to get notice by the US...

    I was highly disappointed with Kylie this time. If Aphrodite was an incline, then Kiss Me Once was a pothole in the middle of the road. Here's hoping she digs herself out to make a cleaner album... if she's allowed to...

  2. As hardcore kylie fan, this album left me sad. She could have done so much better

  3. starlightshimmersApril 22, 2014 at 2:21 AM

    Aphrodite was an event.

    Kiss me once isn't.

  4. Racism. Really? Perhaps you should consider expanding your worldview. This is calling out a liar.

  5. "if only" has to be one of kylie's best song EVER; i was hooked from the first listen! i don't know if it's the fact of it resonating so personally with me or what, but sonically, it's such a departure from today's music landscape. i agree with Nait that she needs to drop it NOW as it would be a fresh pop sound that no one's really been able to deliver.

  6. I know this is 5 years later but although Michael Jackson may not have written the song Thriller by Rod Temperton but he DEF solely wrote; Billie Jean, Beat It, Don't Stop Til You Get Enough, The Girl Is Mine, Wanna Be Startin' Somethin', Working Day and Night, Smooth Criminal, Black or White, Earth Song, etc....anyway you get the point. He is not in the same category of Elvis as far as not writing his own songs. He has written the majority of his hit songs solely and co-written others, and never taken credit for the few he didn't write.
    He is also in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, which is quite a distinction considering of the tens of thousands of successful songwriters, under 400 have been inducted to date.


HTML tags for bold, italic and hyperlinks are allowed