05 February 2007

The Deconstruction years (Kylie the showgirl princess? - Part four)

This is Part 4.

Part 3 is here.
Part 2 is here.
Part 1 is here.

News to hand – Kylie Minogue has just dumped her boyfriend of 4 years, Olivier Martinez. Good for her.

Mind you, is this any of anyone’s business?

Anyway, we’d got to the point in the story where Minogue had just signed a deal with Deconstruction Records.

About 1994.

She immediately got to work by picking out some songwriters and producers with the best track records in the British music scene.

Her first album for Deconstruction featured a staggering 8 producer and 19 songwriter credits including the Brothers in Rhythm and the Pet Shop Boys. Minogue wasn’t messing around.

The first single, “Confide in Me”, was hugely successful, but the album itself was only moderately more successful than the previous one that she recorded. Minogue wasn’t happy, and could not understand why her albums weren’t selling more.

Some reasons for this are now, in hindsight, pretty obvious:

  • Minogue’s work is hugely popular with dance music fans who largely do not buy albums;
  • In fact, albums themselves had been declining as a preferred package of music. This had previously come and gone in cycles, but the rise of clubby Eurotrash was proving to be fairly much unstoppable at this point in the 1990’s; and
  • As much as she tried, Kylie’s attempts to garner a more grown up audience was yielding her old audience, but all grown-up, only. They had long since reached the age where they stopped buying long players outright;
  • Lastly, Minogue continued to be popular with a segment of the music market who didn’t buy music all that often anyway – the incidental fans.

I won’t accept the shitcanning it got from the critics as a valid reason for it not selling – Kylie’s previous works were similarly pilloried, and they still sold.

Minogue simply wasn’t getting the extra audience boost that she had hoped for. This was, no doubt, frustrating for her.

It was probably symptomatic of a rising threat to Minogue’s career – in mid-1995 the Brit-pop explosion of the nineties was pretty much going full blast, and by the end of the year, Oasis had released their now classic album, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? and Blur had released their not-quite-so classic, The Great Escape. In their wake came efforts from Pulp, The Verve and (The London) Suede, further cementing the Brit-pop revival as a movement to rival that of Grunge 5 years beforehand.

Record companies across Britain and, indeed across Europe and the rest of the world (except North America) abandoned their Eurotrash filler for another couple of years as they got behind Brit-pop for all it was worth.

I always wondered why it was Brit-pop and not Brit-rock. After all, these guys were playing rock and roll with real instruments.

At about this time, Nick Cave embarked on an ambitious concept album called Murder Ballads. On his wish list was a duet with Minogue called “Where the Wild Roses Grow”. The song was released as a single, and was a rip-roaring success.

For Minogue, there was but one option after seeing the new audience that this single opened up for her:

Milk it!

Minogue started writing her own tunes and ensuring that her image was a little more “rocky”.

She wasted no time getting back into the studio and recording a new album, and she supplemented her stable of writers and producers with the likes of Dave Ball, Rob Dougan and James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers.

She hung out with all the right people, and made sure that she was seen in all the right places.

Then boyfriend, photographer Stephane Sednaoui, ensured that her image was absolutely spot-on.

And when the new album, Impossible Princess was released, it was an unmitigated disaster for her. Sadly for her, Brit-pop was over, and Eurotrash was on it's way up again.

Minogue had timed her move into this sphere appallingly.

2 comments:

ted said...

Nice one as usual Dikkii...:)

I must admit, I don't mind the Nick Cave number and I thought she did it pretty well to be honest. Still, it is a Nick Cave number...

Dikkii said...

Don't get me started on Nick Cave...