Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Things could have gone better for Kylie on the X project...

Unless you've been living in a cave for the last year, you're aware that Aussie pop wonder Kylie Minogue released X, her tenth studio album at the end of 2007.
She has been signed to the british label Parlophone (property of EMI Music) since the early 00s and the release of her super-platinum album Fever. They've done a fairly good job on her recent projects (even managing to make two-and-a-half hits out of Body Language, by issuing the three most decent songs from the record).

As you might know, last year KM came back to the music scene after her victorious fight agains breast cancer with her tenth studio album X. That's when things got all wrong.

Error #1 : The first single
I'm not saying 2 Hearts is a bad song cause it's obviously amazing, but it wasn"t a wise choice to use it as "the big comeback track", simply because it doesn't sound like a proper Kylie song, or at least like the kind of track she needed to return with a bang. So, as expected, it wasn't a huge hit, only peaking at #4 in the UK.
What should have been done instead : listen to the fans, the bloggers, the wise people. The One was clearly a favourite right from the beginning, and it surely would have been huge and would have given the album the light it deserved. It was totally what she needed. Instead the song got another destiny (see below).

Error #2 : The album tracklist
It had been highly publicised months ahead of the release of X that KM had been working with the hypest producers of the moment, such as The Freemasons, Calvin Harris, Mylo, Bloodshy & Avant, Greg Kurstin etc. A demo disc with a dozen songs even leaked in March 2007, containing early works of some songs which made it on X, and other projects which were evicted or later appeared as B-Sides. It was highly exciting at the time, considering the expectations surrounding the project.
While X could have been a very strong and consistant electro-pop album thanks to all the talents involved, it finally contained very different kind of sounds, some amazing, others very forgettable. For example Stars, a very uninspired dance track, All I See, a lame attempt at having Kylie sing blank R&B (for the US market, see below) or Cosmic, a clearly boring ballad. Instead of that, some other fantastic songs such as Lose Control, Ruffle My Feathers, King or Queen or Rippin' Up The Disco were left aside or used as iTunes bonus tracks, unableling them to be enjoyed by all the album buyers.
What should have been done instead : think consistently and focus on a real kickass 21st century electropop album, which is the sound that fits Kylie best. Everyone would have been happy !

Error #3 : the USA
Kylie has never really been huge in America. More precisely she had one hit 20 years ago (The Locomotion) and another one in 2002 (Can't Get You Out Of My Head) but that's it. She's just not appealing to the american market, which is much more "urban"-oriented than the rest of the world. Knowing that, those behind Kylie thought it would be a good idea to launch X there, six month after its initial release, with All I See as the first single (clearly one of the most insipid tracks ever recorded), but in a remix version adding a rap by rapper/loser Mim's. They sent her in the US to do some promotion, but the song being shit, it failed miserably and the album entered the charts at #139 !! I guess she's done with the US for a long time now !
What should have been done instead : either release a strong electro song (In My Arms, Speakerphone, Like A Drug) or not ever set foot on the american market.

Error #4 : the single choices
How can you have such good material and screw things up that much ? First, 2 Hearts. already discussed. Then the label thought it would be wise to release In my arms in Europe and Wow in the UK, and then the other way around. So both videos were released at the same time, killing expectations. But the worse arrived over the summer when someone probably suggested that something had to be done about The One so a great Freemasons Remix was released as a download-only single right in the middle of summer, with a low budget video. Needless to say it didn't make any impact, being her lowest-charting single since the 90s... Such a waste...
What should have been done instead :
Single 1 : The One
Single 2 : In My Arms
Single 3 : Speakerphone/2 Hearts Paul Harris Remix (double A-Side single)
Single 4 : Wow (live version from the KylieX2008 Tour with live video)

I'm by no means saying I would have done a better job (well obviously I would have ;)), cause it was a hard project to work on with lots of pressure and expectations. But pleeeeease, next time listen to the fans!

Just when you thought it was over, the label is releasing X - Tour Edition at the end of the month. At first I thought "great, there'll be live stuff, unreleased tracks from the X sessions, perhaps new songs". Wrong, wrong and wrong. Instead, the second CD coming with the regular X album contains the singles' various remix, all a which appeared on the different CDs when they came out. How stupid is that !!! Ok some of them are good, but they're certainly not worth buying the abum again ! Plus, the artwork uses an old picture... All sorts of stupid, here !

(Tracklisting : 1. 2 Hearts (Harris & Masterson Extended Mix) ; 2. 2 Hearts (Alan Braxe Remix) ; 3. The One (Freemasons Vocal Club Mix) ; 4. Wow (David Guetta Remix) ; 5. Wow (Css Remix) ; 6. In My Arms (Chris Lake Vocal Mix) ; 7. In My Arms (Steve Pitron And Max Sanna Remix) ; 8. In My Arms (Sebastien Leger Remix) ; 9. In My Arms (Spitzer Remix) ; 10. All I See Featuring Mims (Remix)

And last, but not least, the KYLIEX2008 - Live at the 02 DVD is being released. You'd expect some nice artwork, the show being visually so stunning. Fear not, the most awful thing possible has been done. It's just disgusting. But as I said, the show is extraordinary so it's worth enduring such an awful vision (or, you can create your own).
So, in a nutshell :

- Kylie and her X album : very good
- The marketing campaign surrounding X : not so good
Below are some little treats : X songs for you to listen, unreleased great tracks to enjoy, and a video of Speakerphone live at The O2, from the soon-to-be-released DVD. Have fun guys !

Lose Control : unreleased
Rippin' Up The Disco : bonus
2 Hearts (Paul Harris Remix) : unreleased remix
I Don't Know What It Is : bonus
The One (Freemasons Remix) : remix
Step Back In Time (taken from KYLIEX2008 - Live At The 02)


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