The surprising stories behind six of Kylie Minogue's biggest hits
Which one could've been an S Club song?
Since releasing her first single almost 30 years ago, Kylie Minogue has become one of the UK's most treasured popstars. In fact, the singer felt so enamoured with little old Blighty, that she actually applied for citizenship.
From her beginnings as the young star fronting the bombastic and punchy pop of Stock Aitken Waterman to her evolution as the queen of disco pop with 'Can't Get You Out of My Head', Kylie's career is one that most popstars would give their left foot for.
So, with that in mind, we've done the locomotion (sorry) back through Kylie's illustrious catalogue to uncover the surprising stories behind her biggest hits.1. When she first recorded 'I Should Be So Lucky', producers Stock Aitken Waterman weren't convinced that Kylie would be a star…
While not her debut single, 'I Should Be So Lucky' only came about due to the success of the first version of 'Locomotion', which was produced by Mike Duffy, in Australia.
Catching the eyes (and ears) of producers Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman, Kylie flew to the UK to work with the producers, who had previously found hits with Dead or Alive's 'You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)' in 1985.
In the Australian show Love Is In The Air – I Should Be So Lucky: The Business of Star Making, Stock Aitken Waterman (SAW) said that they had actually forgotten that Kylie was flying in to work with them.
"I was at home one Friday afternoon when I got a phone call from Mike Stock at the office who asked if there was something I had forgotten to tell him. 'A small Antipodean called Kylie Minogue?' prompted Mike, 'Oh yes, I forgot, she's in town.' Mike said, 'No she's in reception,'" Pete Waterman recounted in the book 1000UK #1 Hits. "I apologised for messing up and said we'll have to drop the whole project. Mike said, 'We can't, she's expecting to do something with us.' 'She should be so lucky,' I replied. 'Great,' Mike said, 'That'll do. I Should Be So Lucky. Can we write some lyrics?'"
The track was allegedly put together in 40 minutes, with Mike Stock writing the lyrics based on tidbits he'd heard about the young Australian star.
Recalling the first time he met Kylie, Waterman said the singer "looked tired out". "There was this quiet, rather slim little girl, who had flown halfway around the world to see us. To be honest, we were rather brusque and off-hand with her."
Echoing these sentiments in 2015, the record producer said that, at the time, no-one, including SAW, took the singer's career seriously due to the time constraints they were under given her obligations to the TV show Neighbours. "She would literally come in for an hour when she was in London and heading back she had literally two hours to record 'I Should Be So Lucky'," he said.
After recording the track, Stock was pretty sure that they'd never see Kylie again. "We could see that she was a good singer, had a quick ear and could pick up songs easily," he said, "but that was really about all… We just bashed the song out and sent her on her way."
In fact, so nonplussed with Kylie, the trio didn't even listen back to the song that they'd just worked on with the singer for a week. "I can remember being at our Christmas party and hearing this record that was so good that I went over to ask the DJ who it was," Waterman recalled. "It turned out to be Kylie. We completely underestimated her popularity."
'I Should Be So Lucky' would go on to be Kylie's first UK number one single, and began a partnership with Stock Aitken Waterman that would last for years.2. 'Confide in Me' was Kylie's emancipation moment (and recorded in just one take)…
Released in 1994, 'Confide in Me' was Kylie first single after leaving her then record label, PWL. Signing a deal with deConstruction Records, a UK dance label, Kylie had begun to feel like a puppet and like she needed some freedom.
News that Kylie had split with PWL spread throughout the industry, and reached the ears of producers Dave Seaman and Steve Anderson, also known as Brothers in Rhythm. Having previously remixed a track for the singer, the production duo rang her up and asked whether they could write for her.
"The label arranged a meeting and we had lunch together," Dave Seaman recalled to Sean Smith in the book Kylie. "She came out to the DMC studios in Slough to meet us and discuss what she wanted to do."
Of course, the producers were surprised by the direction that Kylie wanted to go down. "I think at that point in her career her persona was bigger than the music and everybody was kind of wiling her to make a more credible record. She had outgrown the pop music she had been making until then," Seaman said.
Like many of the Stock Aiken Watermen tracks, 'Confide in Me' came together in roughly an hour. "It just all kind of flowed out and slotted into place, which is usually the case with the good stuff," Seaman said.
Recalling the studio session, Seaman told how Kylie turned up in a taxi at their studio, told the taxi to wait, warmed up and after one take she was back in the taxi. It was that demo recording that ultimately got used for the final version. "Obviously, there were embellishments to it and we spent a lot of time on the whole production, but it was still the original one that we were using," Seaman recounted.
In 2014, the year of the song's 20th anniversary, fellow producer Steve Anderson took to Twitter to detail some of these embellishments. In a string of tweets, the producer wrote: "Nearly all of the sound effects in the intro were made in the studio, including Dictaphone recordings from the original sessions. The strings were arranged by Will Malone, who also arranged Massive Attack's 'Unfinished Sympathy'."
"'Confide in Me' without a shadow of a doubt is the best Kylie track we were involved with," Seaman continued. "It's the thing I am most proud of professionally – the whole process from start to finish. It's the track that really sort of took her to the next level."
Despite the positive reaction to 'Confide in Me', the track missed out on the top spot on the chart due to 'Saturday Night', a track by one-hit-wonder Whigfield.3. Paula Abdul claims that 'Spinning Around' was the song that saved Kylie from pop obscurity…
Between the years 1995 to 2000, Kylie spent most of the time experimenting musically. While this was surely artistically rewarding, commercially, Kylie's 1997 album, Impossible Princes, was considered a career low point.
After being with deConstructed for just four years, Kylie signed to Parlophone in 1999 and began work on her seventh album Light Years.
The album's lead single, the disco-pop 'Spinning Around', was written by Ira Shickman, Osborne Bingham, Kara DioGuardi and Paula Abdul. In fact, the track was initially meant for Abdul's own album, yet that record never materialised.
"I'm responsible for helping Kylie Minogue come back," Abdul said in an interview with The Associated Press. "She couldn't get signed to a worldwide deal... She entered for the first time ever on the UK charts No. 1 on a song I wrote."
While this isn't necessarily true (Kylie had, in fact, gathered four UK number ones by that time), it did mark a significant jump up on the charts for Ms. Minogue, whose last single, 'Breathe', had landed at number 14.
Speaking more humbly, Kara DioGuardi, who was then an up-and-coming songwriter, says that 'Spinning Around' was the song that propelled her career. "I didn't know who Kylie was, and I was heartbroken that Paula Abdul wasn't going to do it," she said. "I was thinking, 'Kylie Minogue? Who's Kylie Minogue? I've got to make some money or I'm going to have to go back to my real job.'"
Of course, it's impossible to discuss 'Spinning Around' without discussing Kylie's now infamous bottom. Or rather, the hot pants that she wore around that bottom.
As Sean Smith recounts in his book, Kylie, legend has it that William Baker, Kylie's long-standing stylist, found the famous gold lamé hotpants in a charity shop. However, this isn't quite the case. While the shorts certainly aren't couture, they did cost 50p from a market stall.
In fact, the video for 'Spinning Around' wasn't even the hotpant's first outing. Rather, Kylie had worn them in a shoot with famed fashion photographer Rankin, and she had even worn them to a fancy dress party. However, it was Baker who decided that Kylie should wear them on the shoot for the video.
For DioGuardi, it was the hotpants that sealed the deal. "I saw her ass in the video – she had these hot pants on and the video was sick – and I was like, 'OK, I like Kylie Minogue. I'm going to make some money here.'"4. 'Can't Get You Out of My Head' was written for S Club 7
Following the success of Light Years, Kylie's label Parlophone were keen to capitalise on Kylie's comeback success.
Heading into the studio with songwriting tour-du-force Cathy Dennis, along with Rob Davis and British production group Biffco, Kylie began work on 2001's pop classic Fever. Of course, the album was proceeded by the now iconic 'Can't Get You Out of My Head'.
The song was only the second that co-writers Cathy Dennis and Rob Davis had done together. "We wrote the song at home, in my old house in the autumn of 2000. I think it was Simon Fuller who put us together via Universal Publishing," Davis recalled to M magazine. "We had two days together and on the second day we wrote 'Can't Get You Out of My Head'."
Written in just three and a half hours, Dennis described the experience of writing the song as "the easiest process". "The chemicals were all happy and working together," she recalled.
Recalling how that now famous earworm post-chorus came into being, Dennis said: "We had the 'can't get you out of my head' bit and we had the bridge, but it needed another hook and that was the 'la-la's'. We knew it didn't need another lyric, so I just went 'la, la, la…'"
After sending the complete song back to music manager and media mogul Simon Fuller, who had put the pair together, it was decided that it wasn't quite the right match for his then-project, S Club 7. The track was then offered to Sophie Ellis Bextor, who turned it down, before it landed in the lap of Kylie's A&R.
"My A&R at the time, Miles Leonard and Jamie Nelson, said, 'We've got something. Come into the office. We've got to play you something,'" Kylie recalled to The Quietus in 2012. After heading to EMI, who at the time had taken Parlophone under its banner, and after hearing 20 seconds of the song Kylie knew how important the song would be.
"I couldn't even fathom what I was hearing. It just... did something. I was beside myself," she said. "Then at the end of the song, panic set in. I was saying 'Are you sure we've got this song? Don't tell me that we don't! Is it secured? Can we have it?' And we did!
"That kick-started a whole different phase in my career," she finished.
Dennis and Davis agreed that Kylie was the perfect person for the song. "Even though Kylie wasn't the first artist to be offered the song, I don't believe it was meant to go to anyone other than Kylie, and I don't believe anyone else would have done the incredible job she did with it, with the video, looking super-hot," said Dennis.
Ultimately, 'Can't Get You Out of My Head' would go on to sell over a million copies in the UK, becoming Kylie's biggest-selling song and one of the bestselling singles of all time.5. It was actually a certain Scissor Sister that made 'All the Lovers' come to fruition…
Kylie's 2007 album, X, was met with mixed reviews from critics. For many it lacked that certain sparkle that makes a Kylie album.
Deciding to team up with pop genius Stuart Price, Kylie set to work on Aphrodite, her 11th studio album. Marked as a return to the glittery pop that became synonymous with Kylie Minogue in the early 2000s, the album was Kylie's most cohesive body of work since her days with PWL.
Explaining how she ended up working with Stuart Price, Kylie put it all down to Jake Shears from the Scissor Sisters, who had previously worked with the star on the fabulous 'I Believe in You'."As I'd started recording my album in various studios around the world, [Jake] praised Stuart highly. He basically pestered me into it," she said.
Speaking during a track-by-track video, Kylie said that 'All the Lovers' was a "lovely start" to the album. Written by Jim Eliot and Mima Stilwell (aka Kish Mauve), who the singer had previously worked with on '2 Hearts' from X, both Kylie and Stuart Price felt that the song was "delicious".
Speaking about the song during a track-by-track video, Kylie revealed that Eliot and Stilwell had written the song with 'Human' by The Killers in mind, which was also produced by Price. "Once it was in existence," Price said, "we couldn't imagine it not being there."
"The single was one of the last tracks to be written for the album," Kylie recalled, writing on her website. "As I was recording it I knew that 'All The Lovers' had to be the first single; it sums up the euphoria of the album perfectly. It gives me goosebumps."
Similarly, Price also said: "'All The Lovers' is a magical song and sums up everything that the album is: Kylie doing pop dance music at her best."
Talking to CNN about why the song was chosen as the lead single, Kylie said it was actually a bit tricky to pick.
"My record company and I, our management and friends, we debated and deliberated for a while over what the first single should be," she said. "There are other songs on the album that are more instant singles, but we decided it was more important to come with a statement song. And I think 'All the Lovers' gets under your skin. I love the sentiment, and it sets a tone for the album."6. While not a single, 'Kiss Me Once' was the song that made Kylie the most excited…
While the title track from Kylie's 12th album, Kiss Me Once, was never released as a single, the song is perhaps the most quintessential Kylie song on an album that, at times, felt muddled and confused.
Speculation puts the fact that Kiss Me Once was a bit all over the place down to the fact that the singer had recently signed to Jay Z's Roc Nation management company (she has since parted from Roc Nation). Calling in a punch of high-profile writers and producers, like Pharrell Williams, Sia, as well as rising talent like MNEK, Tom Aspaul and Ariel Rechtshaid, to varying success.
However, upon the album's release critics were fairly unanimous saying that 'Kiss Me Once' was a throwback to the PWL, Stock Aitken Waterman Kylie. The track was co-written with fellow Aussie pop force Sia, who acted as co-executive producer on the album.
"We worked together a couple of times — with her as a writer and me looking at some tracks she had already written, and also doing some writing together," Kylie told Idolator. "I got on with her so well. Around about what turned out to be the halfway mark of making this album - I didn't know how long it would take, so I didn't realise that at the time - I asked her if she would executive-produce."
Recalling hearing 'Kiss Me Once' for the first time, Kylie said that she thought she might have actually lost the track to someone else. "She played it for me, I loved it, recorded it — and then I almost thought it disappeared, because you get so into whatever the latest thing you've been recording is," she said to Rolling Stone. "But it came back, and I was thrilled that it hadn't been forgotten."
Despite not writing the song, Kylie told radio.com that the song was all about that first kiss feeling. "'Kiss Me Once' for me, makes me think of that first kiss that could change everything," she said. "And you can't repeat it. It really is that special. Some people might think back to the first kiss of the person that they're with, or think of the next first kiss when they meet that person. You say a lot without saying anything with one kiss." Aww…
Unfortunately, 'Kiss Me Once' never got the chance to be given the single treatment, but Kylie knew that the song would shape the whole campaign anyways. "Seriously," she said, "I'm crazy about that song. When I rehearse it and perform it with my band we literally, we're like 'can we just nuke the other songs?' because it really pleases us performing that song."