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post Jan 25 2018, 02:05 PM
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The 405 Extended Play: What is Kylie Minogue’s Best Lead-Single?
Doron Davidson-Vidavski | 25 Jan, 2018

For the purpose of this countdown, we have construed Lead Single as the calling card for each of Kylie’s new album eras.

With the recent 30th anniversary of Kylie Minogue’s debut-proper, ‘I Should Be So Lucky’, and the release last week of ‘Dancing’, the first taster from her forthcoming 14th studio album, Golden, The 405 has had a good look at the popstar’s discography in an endeavour to rank her album-heralding singles.

Of course, over the decades, what constitutes a so-called Lead Single and the role it plays in an album campaign has evolved. For example, in the 1990s it became the norm that an album campaign would be prefaced by a (hopefully) big hit single released a week earlier. Labels relied on a high entry into the charts on the week of album release to give a song’s parent record a big push. This often resulted in a first-week high entry that, upon availability of the album on the (then) Monday of Singles Chart impact, would lead to the single dropping like a fly on its second week in the chart.

But the release of just one single prior to the emergence of an album also meant that a likely three more singles from an album era, staggered after album-release, helped in stretching the campaign up to a year or so.

Since the second part of the ‘00s, with the decline of the physical format and the increase in downloads and, subsequently, streaming, the idea of a buzz track which introduces the prospect of an eventual album somewhere down the line - via several additional track drops – changed the concept of the Lead Single.

Albums themselves are no longer seen as the predominant mode for bringing an artist’s ideas to creative fulfilment, as EPs and mixtapes become more and more prevalent and relevant as a means for releasing music. Often, an artist would put out several single tracks before any multiple-track set is available.

With major label signings, however, the traditional route of big Lead Single followed by a long player is still often the way things are done, although it is safe to assume that, in the case of Golden (which only comes out in April) we are likely to get at least one more single (in whatever form its release takes) after ‘Dancing’.

For the purpose of this countdown, we have construed Lead Single as the calling card for each of Kylie’s new album eras. Golden will be Kylie’s 14th studio album but you’ll find 17 spots on our list, as we have also taken into account a couple of odds’n’sods, where a catalogue revisit has resulted in a new single release.

Warning: this feature includes the words “fun facts”.


17. ‘Only You’ (from Kylie Christmas, 2015)

Launching Kylie’s Christmas album for Parlophone, this cover version of the Yazoo classic sounds a bit like it’s made for a John Lewis Christmas TV advert. Frankly, fans would sooner have opted for the album’s Dannii Minogue duet than this James Corden collaboration as lead single.

Fun fact: Vince Clarke wrote ‘Only You’ when he was still in Depeche Mode but kept it until 1982 for his then-new duo with Alison Moyet. It ended up being Yazoo’s first single.

Could any other song on the album have made a better first single? Well, absolutely. ‘100 Degrees’, Kylie’s aforementioned duet with her sister, Dannii, or else ‘At Christmas’, the track released to push the Snow Queen Edition of Kylie Christmas in 2016.

16. ‘2 Hearts’ (from X, 2007)

OK, we feel quite strongly about this one. That ‘2 Hearts’ was deemed to be worthy of launching as big a comeback as X was supposed to be (it was Kylie’s first studio album in four years and marked her return to good health after a battle with breast cancer) is puzzling, particularly when you consider that around 50 different songs were recorded during the album sessions and the majority of what ended up on X was significantly better than this. The other point about ‘2 Hearts’ is that it sounds exactly the same as the Kish Mauve demo on which the band’s Mima Stilwell had originally recorded the topline a couple of years earlier – the production wasn’t updated for the Kylie release and, ultimately, jarred with the sound of the rest of the record. It’s not that it’s a bad song – it was a very good Kish Mauve single but it made for a very average Kylie single. Moreover, a much better Kish Mauve track, ‘Lose Control’, was left off the album, which is very upsetting because it is a BOP.

Fun fact: Kylie did release an amazing Kish Mauve-penned single, ‘All The Lovers’, in 2010. Continue reading to find out where it’s ended up on our list.

Could any other song on the album have made a better first single? A world of YES. If ‘The One’ had been released as Kylie’s comeback single, we humbly submit that it could have been as big as ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’.

15. ‘Flower’ (from The Abbey Road Sessions, 2012)

‘Flower’ is one of very few ballad-singles released by Kylie over the years. It was originally written for X but ended up on Kylie’s orchestral compilation album. We really like it and it was a good choice as era-introducer for The Abbey Road Sessions.

Fun fact: Kylie co-wrote the track with Steve Anderson and Brothers In Rhythm, who were also responsible for ‘Confide In Me’ (see below).

Could any other song on the album have made a better first single? No.

14. ‘Some Kind Of Bliss’ (from Impossible Princess, 1997)

Impossible Princess may well be Kylie’s most coherent and consistent album and it was also where her drastic change of direction, which manifested itself in her most honest lyrics and boundary-pushing production, caused a huge disconnect for fans of her pop oeuvre. ‘Some Kind Of Bliss’ was a brave yet, with hind sight, odd choice for lead single. There were far poppier moments on the record but, for Kylie, this song’s job was to set the stall for where she wanted her career to go. Working with Manic Street Preachers (and let’s not forget her Nick Cave duet a couple of years earlier) was a clear mission statement of moving away from purely mainstream pop. Whilst ‘Some Kind Of Bliss’ doesn’t lack a hook, it was just too different from all that had come before it and, as such, it became Kylie’s first single to chart outside the UK Top 20.

Fun fact: The song’s Top of the Pops performance was fantastic and also marked the first time Kylie performed on Top of the Pops with a full band.

Could any other song on the album have made a better first single? ‘Limbo’ would have made an amazing lead single, actually.

13. ‘Hand On Your Heart’ (from Enjoy Yourself, 1988)

‘Hand On Your Heart’ kicked off Kylie’s second album era a mere 7 months after the release of her debut. It took the concept of bubblegum pop to a whole new level and made for an immensely (and immediately) catchy ear-botherer. Kylie’s half-arsed performance in the video is a possible tell-tale sign of the pressures she must have been under in those days to churn out hit after hit. But churn she did and the lovable ‘Hand On Your Heart’ became her third number one single in the UK in the space of less than 18 months.

Fun fact: Gothenburg singer-songwriter, José González, covered ‘Hand On Your Heart’ on his Stay In The Shade EP in 2004 and transformed it into a moving acoustic love song.

Could any other song on the album have made a better first single? ‘Nothing To Lose’ could have, yes.

12. ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ (from Kylie, 1988)

It is hard deciding which song was the Lead Single from Kylie’s debut album. ‘Locomotion’ came out in Australia in July 1987, a year before PWL put out Kylie worldwide, and the song’s subsequent re-recorded UK version appeared (as ‘The Loco-Motion’) a few weeks after the album. ‘Got To Be Certain’ was the single that came out nearest to album release but the common perception is that ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ was the harbinger of Kylie’s debut album era. Production-wise, it was Stock/Aitken/Waterman-by-numbers but we say that with love: the PWL Hit Factory garnered the success it had because of the very quality of the pop formula it employed. Sure, the formula was of its time, but - for the pop landscape of 1988 - the easy-to-tap-into disco sensibility of ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ was exactly what was needed to rebrand Kylie from soap actress to popstar. It’s a gem.

Fun fact: ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ spent five weeks atop the UK Singles Chart, the longest any Kylie single has managed to hold on to the summit in the UK.

Could any other song on the album have made a better first single? Possibly ‘Turn It Into Love’, which only came out as a single in Japan (where it went to number 1). Stock/Aitken/Waterman eventually gave it to Hazell Dean and the track was the lead single from her album, Always.

11. ‘What Kind Of Fool (Heard All That Before)’ (from Greatest Hits, 1992)

An absolute banger. Well, you know, in an early 1990s sort of way. It was the lead single from Kylie’s first retrospective but, by the time it came out, the diminishing returns of Let’s Get To It (see below) had established a lessening interest in the singer’s output with PWL. The single failed to crack the Top 10, although this did not stop Greatest Hits from going straight in at number 1 in the UK Album Chart. Apparently, ‘What Kind Of Fool’ is one of Kylie’s least favourite tracks but we think it’s great.

Fun fact: The video was inspired by the film And God Created Woman.

Could any other song on the album have made a better first single? No.

10. ‘Spinning Around’ (from Light Years, 2000)

Co-written by Paula Abdul, ‘Spinning Around’ transported Kylie from her late-90s indie phase and back into firm pop territory, with a new record deal and her first UK number 1 in 11 years. Those who attribute the track’s success merely to the famous gold hotpants do the song and the perfect match it found in its performer an unfair disservice. Boasting one of the more famous choruses in Kylie’s repertoire, ‘Spinning Around’ proved a triumphant precursor to Light Years, possibly Kylie’s most joyous album.

Fun fact: Kylie celebrated the release of ‘Spinning Around’ with a performance at the opening of Manchester’s then-newest gay nightclub, Essential, in June 2000. That night she also sang ‘Your Disco Needs You’, which was co-written with Robbie Williams and was considered by her label, Parlophone, to be “too gay” – the reason unofficially cited for the fact it was never released as a single in the UK, despite being a fan-favourite. It did, however, manage to reach number 152 in the UK Charts, purely on the basis of sales of imported CD singles from Germany.

Could any other song on the album have made a better first single? Perhaps ‘Your Disco Needs You’ or the Donna Summer homage, ‘Light Years’.

9. ‘Word Is Out’ (from Let’s Get To It, 1991)

From 1990 onwards Kylie’s image was getting sexier and sexier and, by the time the ‘Word Is Out’ video was premiered (including a cameo from none other than Davina McCall), people were paying less attention to the music and more to the fact that Kylie was now “raunchy”. Which is a shame, because ‘Word Is Out’ was one of the best things PWL (by this point, Pete Waterman and Mike Stock, as Matt Aitken had left in the middle of 1991) did with Kylie. But the change in sound from the instant-pop arrangements of her first three albums meant that this Let’s Get To It lead single stalled at number 16 in the UK Singles Chart (Kylie’s first non-Top 10 placing) and, despite the long-player’s subsequent singles doing much better than ‘Word Is Out’, the album was her least successful PWL release, commercially.

Fun fact: In the 2014 music video for ‘Into The Blue’ you can see a poster hanging on one of the walls with an image of Kylie from the ‘Word Is Out’ single cover shoots by fashion photographer, Ellen Von Unwerth.

Could any other song on the album have made a better first single? Maybe ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing’.

8. ‘Dancing’ (from Golden, 2018)

The first cut to be lifted from Kylie’s forthcoming “Nashville album”, Golden, the catchy ‘Dancing’ achieves the feat of effortlessly straddling two genres – light country and contemporary pop – and sounds like a quintessential Kylie Minogue single. The chorus plants itself firmly in your mind’s ear after the first listen, which is exactly what you want a lead single to do. Our favourite bit is the song’s final few seconds, where Kylie’s falsetto backing vocals shine.

Fun fact: ‘Dancing’ is the first Kylie release under her new record deal, after her long-term partnership with Parlophone came to an end in 2016.

Could any other song on the album have made a better first single? We’ll find out in April, when Golden comes out.

7. ‘Into The Blue’ (from Kiss Me Once, 2014)

A really, really great Kylie single marred somewhat by a rather disappointing music video. The song’s theme of self-empowerment and endurance in the face of tribulation were strangely diminished by the accompanying visuals, which held little by way of narrative or point. Kiss Me Once itself is not one of Kylie’s strongest long-players but in ‘Into The Blue’ it gave us a stunning lead single, which honours the legacy of the Australian’s discography.

Fun fact: Kylie soft-launched ‘Into The Blue’ and Kiss Me Once with a surprise performance at East London pub, The Old Blue Last, in February 2014.

Could any other song on the album have made a better first single? No.

6. ‘I Believe In You’ (from Ultimate Kylie, 2004)

Recorded for Kylie’s 2004 best-of compilation, ‘I Believe In You’ is an immediate, extravagant disco grabber and was written with Jake Shears and Babydaddy from Scissor Sisters. It was not, however, the first song the two wrote with Kylie: as Shears recently told The 405, their sessions started with the terrific ‘(Everything) I Know’, which was subsequently left off the set. A further Scissor Sisters collaboration, ‘White Diamond’, was debuted on Kylie’s comeback tour, Showgirl: Homecoming, in 2006 but its studio version remains unreleased. In the days where greatest hits compilations still mattered it was useful having a new hit to give a further push to an artist’s back catalogue and ‘I Believe In You’ was a perfect choice with which to achieve this.

Fun fact: Kylie worked with Xenomania on two other new tracks for the compilation: ‘Giving You Up’ and ‘Made of Glass’. The latter, originally intended for Rachel Stevens, was eventually released as the b-side to ‘Giving You Up’, when it came out as a single in March 2005.

Could any other song on the album have made a better first single? Both ‘Giving You Up’ and ‘Made of Glass’ are pretty amazing but no, ‘I Believe In You’ was most certainly the correct lead single choice.

5. ‘All The Lovers’ (from Aphrodite, 2010)

Could it be that the post-midde-8-ish eruption at the 2:30 mark is the greatest, most euphoric Kylie moment on record? If you quoted us saying that, we wouldn’t deny it. ‘All The Lovers’ was amazing when it first came out in 2010 and has remained amazing 8 years later. It has a similar thrilling vibe to ‘I Believe In You’ and did Aphrodite proud as its lead single. The video is pretty special too.

Fun fact: ‘All the Lovers’ was one of the last songs to be written for Aphrodite, emerging in the final three weeks of the album’s recording sessions.

Could any other song on the album have made a better first single? No.

4. ‘Slow’ (from Body Language, 2003)

The hugely successful Fever era ended in November 2002 with the release of ‘Come Into My World’ and it took just one year for the next album era - Body Language - to be launched. The song to do this, ‘Slow’, is arguably the one Kylie song that continues to sound as fresh today as it did when it first came out almost 15 years ago. It’s a bare, slinky, electronic, nuanced grower and, as most post-Stock/Aitken/Waterman lead singles have done, divided opinions amongst fans. Many expected a more obvious, instant hook, in light of the preceding four Kylie singles but, ultimately, the track’s subtle, slow-burn intricacy did not prevent Kylie from scoring her 7th UK number 1. ‘Slow’ may be the lowest selling Number 1 Kylie single but, according to The New Yorker, it earned its co-writer, Icelandic singer-songwriter, Emiliana Torrini, more money than any track she has released herself.

Fun fact: Torrini and co-writer/producer, Dan Carey, wrote ‘Slow’ in an hour, then proceeded to get very drunk in the pub by way of celebrating the accomplishment. Torrini herself performed the song live for what is believed to be the first time ever last February at Islington Town Hall.

Could any other song on the album have made a better first single? The quirky, Prince-sounding Alexis Strum cover, ‘Still Standing’.

3. ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ (from Fever, 2001)

Is there anyone out there who’s never heard ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’? Highly unlikely. If, on a quiz night, the question “name a Kylie Minogue song” comes up, it’s the track that most people would instantly think of. And justifiably so – it, quite literally, does what it says on the tin: you hear it once and you can’t get it out of your head. Packed with memorable “musical content”, it also had the benefit of an incredible accompanying music video. The Dawn Shadforth-directed promo has provided so many iconic Kylie moments and the various Top of the Pops performances of the track further showcased Michael Rooney’s choreography brilliantly. As lead singles go, Parlophone couldn’t have hoped for a better performer than this.

Fun fact: Apparently, Dawn Shadforth’s inspiration for the initial Kylie-driving-a-car scene in the video was Garbage’s ‘Special’ promo, where Shirley Manson pilots an aircraft.

Could any other song on the album have made a better first single? LOL, be serious!

2. ‘Better The Devil You Know’ (from Rhythm of Love, 1990)

When ‘Better The Devil You Know’ came out in April 1990 nobody imagined it would stand the test of time as a career highlight to the extent it still does almost thirty years later. Leaving Neighbours, dumping Jason Donovan and going out with Michael Hutchence certainly impacted on Kylie as a person but the coincidental maturing in sound (which, in those days, she did not have much control over) and the change in her image all converged to create an overall different feel for her third album era. Whilst Rhythm of Love didn’t quite touch the commercial success of its two predecessors, it was a brilliant record and ‘Better The Devil You Know’ was an incredible introduction to it. Subsequent singles, ‘Step Back In Time’, ‘What Do I Have To Do’ and ‘Shocked’ completed a streak of an exciting album cycle for Kylie fans.

Fun fact: According to Pete Waterman ‘Better The Devil You Know' was written in one hour and recorded in three.

Could any other song on the album have made a better first single? Better the devil you NO.

1. ‘Confide In Me’ (from Kylie Minogue, 1994)

This was the song that would move Kylie from the Stock/Aitken/Waterman era onto her so-perceived non-manufactured pop phase. Written by Steve Anderson, Dave Seaman, and Owain Barton it was produced by Brothers in Rhythm and got to number 2 in the UK Charts. Vocally, it was Kylie’s strongest and most impressive performance on record, up to that point. Even at its radio edit of 4:26 (the master mix was just shy of 6 minutes), it was significantly longer than any other Kylie single that came before it and the production and arrangement allowed both the Middle-Eastern musical hook and the “confide in me” line room to breathe. And beautifully so. It’s the song that made even the worst high-brow Kylie-skeptics, who had dismissed her as a pop puppet, listen up. The Paul Boyd directed video remains stellar.

Fun facts: It is rumoured that one of the single’s b-sides, a cover of Saint Etienne’s ‘Nothing Can Stop Us’, was at one point Kylie’s label’s favourite for the album’s lead single. Another song recorded with Saint Etienne in 1993, ‘When Are You Coming Home?’, was shelved. In 2006 Nerina Pallot, a long-term Kylie fan, recorded a cover version of ‘Confide In Me’, as the b-side to her single, ‘Sophia’. In 2009, Kylie returned the favour by recording a cover of Pallot’s ‘Better Than Today’, which was eventually released as the third single from ‘Aphrodite’ (the title track of which was also co-written by Pallot).

Could any other song on the album have made a better first single? Nope.
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post Jan 25 2018, 02:09 PM
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Confide In Me winning was a nice surprise, but the lack fo love for 2 Hearts HURTS
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post Jan 25 2018, 04:08 PM
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The only logical winner. Also lovely to see Word Is Out and What Kind Of Fool higher than I expected.
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post Jan 25 2018, 04:49 PM
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Confide in Me ranking number 1 was the only real disappointment in this read.

Pleasantly surprised to see some love for the underrated Word Is Out.

Slow coming one place ahead of All The Lovers i wouldn't agree with either.

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post Jan 26 2018, 03:00 AM
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I think “Hand on your heart” deserves to be higher and “word is out” was a poor lead single. It was her first song to miss the top 10 in the UK as well.
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post Jan 26 2018, 08:53 AM
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QUOTE(liamk97 @ Jan 25 2018, 03:05 PM) *
‘What Kind Of Fool’ is one of Kylie’s least favourite tracks but we think it’s great.

Is this true? I loved it back then, loved it more than any single release from "Let's Get To It". Didn't know fans hate it. "Where In The World" and "Celebration" were disappointments on the Greatest Hits, but not this one.

This post has been edited by Monzo: Jan 26 2018, 08:55 AM
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post Jan 26 2018, 10:24 AM
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What kind of fool was a strange single. In many ways, it felt a step back from the let’s get to it era to pop again but it just wasn’t as strong and sounded quite cheesy. I do like it as a song but don’t think it wins any points for her credibility!

I really liked where in the world and was disappointed it never became a single. Celebration was a poor cover version which should never have been released. One of my least favourite PWL singles!

This post has been edited by slowdown73: Jan 26 2018, 10:26 AM
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post Feb 11 2018, 11:36 PM
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'Word Is Out' was a pretty poor lead single, either 'Too Much Of A Good Thing' or 'Right Here Right Now' would have been a lot stronger and maintained her top 10 streak.

'2 Hearts' just didn't work for me at all and got the X era off to a really shaky start from which it never recovered from, 'The One' should have been the lead single and could have easily smashed like 'CGYOOMH' did.

Also 'Limbo' instead of 'SKOB' could have been interesting, but honestly didn't mind the former as it's quite a decent song, not one of her best but okay enough.

'Only You' was another odd choice, as it didn't seem to have any kind of push or at the very least had a video filmed for it and dunno why it was even released as it did nothing chart wise. There were so many other better choices = '100 Degrees', 'Everyday's Like Christmas' or hell even 'Santa Baby' would have been better.

'Hand On Your Heart' & 'I Should Be So Lucky' should be much higher on this list, especially the latter I know they're both cheesy. but they are both Kylie classics.
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post Feb 11 2018, 11:38 PM
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This is how I rank her lead singles =

01. Better The Devil You Know
02. Confide In Me
03. Spinning Around
04. Can’t Get You Out Of My Head
05. All The Lovers
06. I Believe In You
07. I Should Be So Lucky
08. Slow
09. Dancing
10. Into The Blue
11. Hand On Your Heart
12. What Kind Of Fool (Heard All That Before)
13. Flower
14. 2 Hearts
15. Some Kind Of Bliss
16. Word Is Out
17. Only You (Ft James Corden)
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