07 December 2006

Kylie meets Hutch (Kylie the showgirl princess? - Part three)

This is part 3.

Part 2 is here.

Part 1 is here.

Around the turn of the 90's, Kylie Minogue began making greater demands on her producers, Stock, Aitken and Waterman.

One of her demands was to create a more 'adult' sound to go along with her newer, more adult image. She was, understandably, miffed that the kiddies who were buying her records now were going to be completely disowning her in another year or so, just like so many other disposable pop stars.

She had to revise her image and sound, and fast.

SAW did their best - but Minogue wasn't taking any chances. She roped in (then) big-name producers such as Teddy Riley and Stephen Bray to assist with her third album.

In normal circumstances, this all could have sunk like a stone.

But Minogue had an ace up her sleeve. Just prior to the release of her third album, she began a very public and very messy affair with probably the one person no one expected - the then INXS frontman, Michael Hutchence. At the time, INXS were probably the second biggest band on the planet.

Hutchence was a typical lead singer who had had scores of affairs mainly with supermodels, singers and actresses and was rumoured to be into all sorts of nocturnal activities ranging from merely suggestive through to bizarre.

In fact, rumours persist to this day that suggest that his suicide in 1997 (which was what the coroner's finding officially said) was a peculiar accident instead. The day of his death I was told this:

"Apparently, he had a belt around his neck that he had closed in the doorway between the top of the door and the doorjamb. He then had a bit of a thrash and, unfortunately, slipped in a pool of his own semen and accidentally hung himself."

Anyway, the fact that this is even remotely plausible should give you an idea about the quirks of this bloke.

So Minogue started seeing Hutchence, and because INXS' star was at its zenith and Minogue's was in the ascendant, the media went absolutely wild for it.

The media, incidentally, had a picnic painting Hutchence as this lecherous rockstar and Minogue as the innocent ingenue. Hutchence was even quoted once as saying that one of his favourite hobbies was 'corrupting' the young Minogue. It is now obvious, ironically, that the roles were reversed, and it was the ambitious Minogue who chewed the fragile Hutchence up and spat him out.

Needless to say, Minogue's third album was a smash hit and her extreme image makeover worked like a publicist's dream.

(Incidentally, the hit song, Better the devil you know was on this album. Nick Cave once claimed that this song had the saddest song lyrics he knew. The fact that he meant sad-sad and not pathetic is testament to the brain-sapping combination of a lengthy heroin addiction and the pretence of a Byron complex)

Minogue quickly threw her efforts into milking this sudden rush of mature respect by recording a fourth album. It was to be her last with SAW.

It wasn't a hit. Apart from the track Word is out, she just couldn't latch on to the record-buying public with this work.

Unsurprisingly, she sacked SAW, and left PWL - her contractual obligations were over.

She was now a free agent. And she was still a marketable commodity. A wonderful spot for a musician, or 'artist' as Minogue would prefer to be described, to be in.

What she craved, however, was cred. Not just any cred, mind you, it had to come with sales attached.

At about this time, a label called Deconstruction Records had just struck 24 carat gold with two acts - D:Ream and M People.

Minogue's people knew that this wave was breaking and also that new owners BMG were throwing a lot of money at the label.

She hardly needed much more convincing to sign on the dotted line. For a very short window, she had an opportunity to receive both a ridiculously lucrative deal funded by a major label, but with the cred and cachet of a minor label, which just happened to be the hottest dance music label in the world.

Deal out of the way, she proceeded to celebrate this new phase of her life by recording a new eponymously titled album with new songwriters, producers and money and also by dumping Hutchence.

Her first album with Deconstruction was a moderate success. Hutchence and INXS, however, never had the same level of success again.


Anonymous said...

Very nice Dikkii. Excellent series...:)

The only thing I'm wondering about is if Kylie deserves that much cred. She strikes me as more a follower than a leader...

Dikkii said...

She strikes me as more a follower than a leader...

Ted, you don't know how right you are.

Consider this:

She signs with PWL and gets SAW to produce her music, because they have an excellent track record and everything they touch turns to gold.

She lifts her image out of the kids pool because only stars like Madonna who also do this have any longevity.

She signs with the hottest dance label in the world because they have no image problems whatsoever.

There's more, but I'll pre-empt my next instalment. She deserves no cred. Except for a bit where she was a bit brave... but I'm saying too much. More in the next instalment.

Dikkii said...

Oh, and I forgot to add, Kylie has cred for reasons that escape me.

She has become a sacred cow and I am writing this particular series in order to, not only slaughter the metaphorical beast, but to eat it extremely well done with a glass of chianti.

Thank you Hannibal Lecter.

Anonymous said...

Sheez Dikkii, I get slack and you get busy. I'm sure that's not how it's supposed to work...:)

What I was getting at though is that I'm not so sure Kylie decided to go with PWL, SAW, etc, but was told to go with or was guided down the path of PWL, SAW, etc. Do you know who was managing her at that stage?

But I will wait. I was hoping there'd be more...:)

Dikkii said...

Ted wrote:

What I was getting at though is that I'm not so sure Kylie decided to go with PWL, SAW, etc, but was told to go with or was guided down the path of PWL, SAW, etc. Do you know who was managing her at that stage?

Actually, Ted, that wasn't a direction I was planning to go in, but now that you've mentioned it, it certainly needs some exploration.

I'll look into it, as you're not the only one who would be interested in whatever I can dredge up. I would be as well.