A Pop Music Feature
The sixteenth full-length album release from the indisputable Pop-Music Goddess of Love, KYLIE MINOGUE reveals that 35 years into her illustrious career she continues to elevate the game, raising the beats per minute, and giving us all TENSION.
It’s been the summer of Kylie Minogue. The Melbourne-born pop icon who established herself as an international phenomenon could never have imagined that some 35 years after riding the “Loco-Motion” to the top of the charts, she’d be breaking all expectations with 2023’s song of the summer. The first single from the sixteenth studio album Tension was revealed to have been cast in the same mold as the artist’s 2001 electro-pop hit “Can’t Get Your Out of My Head”, which is exactly what “Padam Padam” intended.
When it was unleashed in May, the single arrived as if out of nowhere, landing like an alien spacecraft with an invading complement determined to be taken to our leaders…and like a flock of sheep, we all unabashedly did as we were told. The origins of the track, written by Norwegian singer Ina Wroldsen and producer Peter Rycroft, otherwise known as Lostboy, are the stuff of music industry legend – when the track landed on the desk of Minogue’s longtime A&R manager, Jamie Nelson, he scooped it up and sent it over. The song resonated immediately with her, and Minogue wasted no time recording it.
During the pandemic, the lockdown afforded Minogue the unique opportunity to adapt to the necessary limitations of social distancing, and while working on 2020’s DISCO (Minogue’s fifteen career album and homage to late ‘70s, early ’80s dance music of the era) she taught herself how to engineer her own vocals in a home studio. It was a necessary innovation, but one that suddenly opened up a whole new creative window for Minogue; after decades of working in expensive studio spaces all around the world, and at the mercy of availability while juggling busy schedules, she now demonstrated ease with the changing technology and adaptability to record from just about anywhere.
Minogue has said in interviews that the moment she heard “Padam Padam” she knew it was “perfect” for her, and she grabbed her mic and gear, and from the sanctuary of her hotel room closet, she laid down the first pass at the vocals for the track. The rest, as they often like to say, is history — or in this case, her-story. After decades of domination on the International music scene, carving out a hit here and there that penetrated the US market, always proved more elusive, but “Padam Padam” broke down those barriers, unexpectedly working its way into the zeitgeist.
With its stylishly eerie music video, casting Minogue in blood-red, and its snappy choreography, creatively directed by Sophie Muller, it heralded a social fandom that inspired TikTok challenges with everyone mirroring the dance steps to the Eastern European-inspired electro-pop beats and synth. But it was only the beginning, and even as Kylie zig-zagged across the globe riding the wave of her latest hit, she soon followed it up with another banger, “Tension”. The new album’s title track would have just as relevant an impact on fans and dance loyalists and re-cement Minogue’s pop-dance dominance.
The sudden and surprising arrival of Tension was not without precedent. Minogue could have easily pushed off a new album, still able to celebrate the success of her last effort DISCO which was very well received by credits and fans alike, but it was evident that Kylie Minogue was ready to go full-throttle. With the pandemic mostly behind us, and a semblance of return to normal, Tension would forgo any themes or cathartic intentions and just provide Minogue the forum to do what she has always done best — bring music and dance to the masses.
If DISCO was just the warm-up, Tension would be the main event. She was (in a way) going back to her roots, Minogue left London and returned to her home city of Melbourne. Enlisting long-time collaborators Richard “Biff” Stannard, Duck Blackwell, and Jon Green, the idea behind the new sessions was to free-flow and let the songs dictate the temperature of the overall album. Springboarding off of the disco-inspired tracks from the last record, Minogue was curious to explore electro-pop, a likely progression from the sound of early 80s disco that would give way to synth-pop that dominated the Euro-sound.
The group decidedly brought in additional collaborators Anya Jones and Camille “Kamille” Purcell and the chemistry immediately in the title track and the exuberant “Things We Do for Love”. The excitement mounting during the course of recording “Tension” and its densely intricate vocal arrangement inspired the group to incorporate audible whoops and hollers that raise the intensity of the track and will likely make it one of the fall’s biggest bangers! Tension is replete with energetic, hand-raising, and power pop that has become synonymous with Kylie Minogue.
The ingredient that has often set her music apart from her contemporaries is its oft-lack of any agenda other than to service the joy of the moment and provide the soundtrack necessary to keep the party going. Her keen intuition has given Kylie the ear that blends her vocals elegantly through the myriad dimensions of the genre, from electro-pop, synth beats, and the rousing high-energy compositions of her early ’80s career. When Minogue decidedly evolved from her tenure with the Stock Aitken Waterman machine, she dove into the deep end of the dance genre and fearlessly explored its depths.
With Tension Minogue appeared most interested in delivering a setlist of tracks that “could stand up on its own” especially when placed next to other songs in the offering. The album (full, deluxe version) boasts a setlist of 14, with a varying wide range of sonic interpretations that are reflective of a career charting 3 decades of making music. Tension will also find Kylie Minogue moving closer to an ever-elusive North American audience, that has proven very fickle over the years, as the Pop Goddess of Love moves into an already sold-out residency in Las Vegas. This may likely put Minogue in a position to launch her next live tour in the States.
The timing couldn’t be more perfect, especially with such a spotlight on pop artists and dance music enjoying a much overdue renaissance, and with Kylie Minogue only more determined to keep pace with her continuing celebrity, 10 out of 10, she will deliver.
Here is your #FanzEyeView of the official teaser video of Kylie Minogue’s next big hit, the title track off of her new album “Tension”:
TENSION | by KYLIE MINOGUE | is available for pre-order on most Digital Download outlets. Download from iTunes here.