Kylie Minogue’s ‘X’ Turns Five In The US: Stan & Deliver

Bradley Stern | April 1, 2013 6:30 am

Stan & Deliver gives fans an opportunity to shake, cry and sing the praises of the albums they love from their faves.

Four years after her foray into coquettish, R&B-infused electronica on 2003’s Body Language, Queen Kylie Minogue returned in late 2007 with her tenth studio album – the aptly titled X. (The LP’s US release date was April 1, 2008.)

But to truly appreciate the essence of X is to know Minogue beyond the recording studio: Aside from being an edgy glitter drop of shimmering electro-pop gems and space-age ballads (which it most certainly is), X symbolized something much more powerful than its thumping contents: The disco diva’s triumphant return, following her fight with breast cancer during the prior two years.

As the turbulent timing of the album’s recording might already suggest, X is a scattered, unpredictable set, weaving wildly between synthesized disco euphoria (“In My Arms,” “The One”), forward-thinking electro-pop (“Speakerphone,” “Like A Drug”) girly flirtations (“Sensitized”), cheeky Swede-pop weirdness (“Nu-Di-Ty”) and rare glimmers of introspection untapped since the day’s of her adventurous 1997 release, Impossible Princess (“No More Rain,” “Cosmic”).

X wasn’t just a return to her usual territories, either: Beginning with “All I See” (a complete misfire, admittedly), X was Minogue’s next round of ammunition in her ceaseless battle to penetrate the American pop consciousness. And while her real reintroduction to the American mainstream since 2001’s Fever wouldn’t really come again until Aphrodite‘s string of Billboard Club #1’s a decade later, X was the artistic statement that proved Queen Kylie Minogue was, is, and forever will be a global icon — and a survivor.

But while it’s nice to have us wax poetic about a game-changing musical effort, it’s even nicer to hear from the fans (#LOVERS) themselves — which is why we turned this one over to you. To celebrate the five-year anniversary of the US release of X, we’re going track-by-track with some of Kylie’s most devoted fans.

How do you describe a feeling? Well, drop your socks and grab your mini boombox, ’cause we’re about to find out.

Name: Timothy Walls | Location: Chicago, IL | Twitter: @TimothyMinogue

1. 2 Hearts: It was four years of waiting before Kylie finally released the highly anticipated lead single from her new album. These four years ended up being Kylie’s hardest, embarking on two tours and being diagnosed with cancer, which she THANKFULLY went on to beat. The lead single she chose was the highly addictive and original “2 Hearts.”

The song is about, you guessed it, love! It has a chorus that you just can’t get out of your head. I always find myself singing the “Woo!”-s from the chorus even after the song is finished. This song is one of my favorites from X and I love the originality of it. I don’t remember many songs sounding like it when it was released! She managed to mix cabaret and pop-rock and make it sound amazing. Only the power of Kylie! The video is extremely glamorous as well! She looks incredible in it, and she looks fabulous as hell frolicking around on the piano. I love the burlesque feel of the entire video.

Name: Dan Hughes | Location: London, UK | Twitter: @Daneeeboy

2. Like A Drug: If you have the self-assuredness that allows you to permanently delete “2 Hearts” from the opening of X, then “Like A Drug” becomes the album’s opening number, and a good fit it is too. Beginning as a pulsating dance number that begs for strobe lighting in a darkened room, what feels like an atmospheric club track transforms into a melodic pop chorus which reminds us that this isn’t an obscure electro single…or even Rihanna. This is Kylie, and this is pop music. For me, this is the moment when X comes as close to being what it set out to be, while still being true to ‘Kylie’ as it was ever going to. The song plays with the listener in some great electro-burlesque cabaret, teasing with sexually lined verses and exploding with choruses built upon Kylie’s own gasping and groaning backing vocals.

As a lyrical journey, “the way you make me feel is like a drug” is about as cliché a pop moment as you can have, but as with most Kylie tracks, this is largely irrelevant. We are here to dance, not discuss the works of Tolstoy, and Kylie plays possessed electro-vamp with proficiency.

Name: Robbie Daw | Location: New York, NY | Twitter: @chartrigger

3. In My Arms: I’m just going to come right out and declare that “In My Arms” is Kylie’s edgiest (and best) post-Fever single, to-date. Sure, on the surface, it’s another in a long line of Minogue’s dance-pop jams that, lyrically, deals in love and lust. But the production work by a young Calvin Harris— who, as myth has it, was selected after Kylie (or at least one of her team members) stumbled upon his bedroom DJ work on MySpace — is mesmerizing. Atmospherically, bouncy electro banger “In My Arms” sounds like Seductress Kylie is chasing us down the halls of some haunted castle, waiting to wrap us in her lovely arms and give us her sexy kiss of death. And, really, what more could any of us possibly ask for than that?

Name: Marc Peterson | Location: Los Angeles, CA | Twitter: @marcloveskylie

4. Speakerphone: A true fan favorite and GROWER from Kylie’s X, it’s an adventurous production that demonstrates that, despite a few years off the stage, Kylie was (and still is) well up to speed with 21st century pop. The excellent “Speakerphone” begins with the sound of a strummed harp before diffusing into a shimmering, Scandinvian-tinged electro-pop number reminiscent of Robyn or The Knife — all snapping, sassy beats and vocodered vocal.

By the time Kylie performed the song on her long-awaited first US tour in 2009 (AKA For You, For Me Tour), we were all shaking our heads: “Why was ‘Speakerphone’ not released as a single?” Play it LOUD and PROUD…on your speakerphone!

Name: Bradley Stern | Location: New York, NY | Twitter: @muumuse

5. Sensitized: During The Kylie Party — a one-off special at the end of 2007 to promote the release of X in late 2007 — Queen Kylie climbed aboard a mechanical bull and launched into a steamy, pant-tightening tease — gyrating and grinding her way through X‘s “Sensitized” aboard the bucking bronco.

It couldn’t have been a more appropriate set-up for the song: That lusciously seductive, ’60’s French-pop-infused gallop of a beat simply begs for a good ridin’ — and Miss Minogue’s no stranger to cowboy style. Easily X‘s most erotic offering, the Guy Chambers-produced “Sensitized” sees Miss Minogue cooing and moaning her way atop a genius sample of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot‘s “Bonnie & Clyde.” “Baby, you trip the switch and I’m sensitized,” KM breathily purrs. It’s seduction at its finest — giddy up.

Name: Antoine Scott | Location: San Diego, California | Twitter: @SixSixEvans

6. Heart Beat Rock: “Lovers in the back seat, boys in the back street…” Wait, did Kylie just start spitting a rap? “Yes she did — and I love it!” was the first thought when I heard the snippet of the song. “Heart Beat Rock” gets a lot of slack for some crazy reason, but to me, I would go as far as one of Kylie’s standout moments (like the whole X album itself) album-track wise in her career. Who would of thought that young girl wanting to be so lucky 20 something years ago would find herself eventually rapping over a Calvin Harris beat?

Sure, it’s not “Classic Kylie” singing over some dancey production that most of her fans like, but that’s what makes it so unique and fun. The robo-bloops and bops in the background alone are enough to get you and your friends up in a impromptu dance party. Last but not least, I’m still bitter this wasn’t the lead US single instead of “All I See.” Probably would have fared better.

Name: Mike Wass | Location: Sydney, Australia | Twitter: @poptrashmike

7. The One: X polarized fans and critics like no other album in Kylie’s glittering discography. Some, myself included, found it brave and original. Others declared it forced and jarringly impersonal given the diva’s recent cancer battle. It seemed like the only song that everyone could agree on was “The One.”

The glorious Freemasons-produced mid-tempo ballad is the best example of Kylie’s ongoing flirtation with Italo-disco — a dalliance that began with the title track of her Light Years album and seemingly reached its zenith on “I Believe In You.” As magnificent as those anthems are, “The One” eclipses them both with its melancholy-drenched synths and fragile, pleading chorus.

There’s something almost unbearably sad about what, on the surface, should be a euphoric love song. The credit for that must go to Kylie. Her restrained vocal is as heartfelt as it is nuanced, hovering perfectly over the icy, New Order-influenced sound palette.

Released with little fanfare in mid-2008, “The One” barely crawled into the UK top 40 and failed to chart in most of the icon’s major markets despite the huge popularity of the Freemasons remix in clubs. Ironically, the song has become some of signature tune and live highlight — proving that quality always wins out in the end.

Name: Jack J. | Location: Murfreesboro, TN | Twitter: @kylievevo

8. No More Rain: “No More Rain” is probably one of Kylie’s most euphoric songs. It’s 4 minutes of pure joy. Produced by Greg Kurstin, it definitely wasn’t single material. I think it might be a tad too slow for those that haven’t already joined Team Minogue, but it’s without a doubt a standout track on X. It’s presumed to be about Kylie’s battle and victory over cancer, but it could be an anthem for practically anyone. This song gives me hope, no matter how bad things may be, the “rain” will always go away. “No More Rain” also goes to show Kylie’s lyrical diversity, in my opinion. It doesn’t always have to be about love affairs or the disco. While it’s very different from most of the songs on X, it doesn’t sound odd or out of place.

Name: Mike Wass | Location: Sydney, Australia | Twitter: @poptrashmike

9. All I See: How do you turn an adorable album track into a critically-maligned, international embarrassment? The answer, it seems, is to unexpectedly release it in America – complete with heinous urban remix and the world’s cheapest video. That, unfortunately, is the sad fate that befell Kylie’s actually rather lovely “All I See.”

Neatly crafted by Danish hitmakers Jonas Jeberg and Cutfather, X’s non-charting US lead single was actually something of a fan favorite when the album first hit stores. The catchy track pandered to the urban market without losing sight of Kylie’s pop sensibility, effortlessly channeling Janet Jackson with its breathy vocals and slick beats.

While it’s understandable that “All I See” was singled out for the American market, the logic behind its unfortunate transformation remains a mystery. The ill-advised Mims rap remains appalling and the self-funded video, which was filmed between tour rehearsals, is — at best — testament to Kylie’s unwavering dedication to her fans.

If you can overlook the song’s eventual mistreatment, “All I See” holds up as an unusually elegant piece of urban-pop. I mean, there’s a harp and everything! The extended mix is also highly recommended. That seven-minute opus introduces an orchestral element, which lifts the song to an entirely new plane.

Name: Bobby Hanlon | Location: London, England | Twitter: @bobbypop

10. Stars: Written by the same team behind “Love At First Sight” — Karen Poole and Kylie — “Stars” was tucked away towards the end of the album but shimmered wonderfully bright, especially during the K25 celebrations as part of the Anti-Tour concerts. Warm, electronic and fuzzy, “Stars” was an particularly uplifting moment on X, feeling incredibly comfortable next to “No More Rain” and “Cosmic.” Any introspection is vanquished where Kylie doesn’t merely sing the chorus, but instead confidently beams the lyrics: “You never know what you’ll find because stars don’t shine in singular places.”

Name: Dan Hughes | Location: London, UK | Twitter: @Daneeeboy

11. Wow:There is nothing spectacular about “Wow.” It is not ground-breaking in any way, and the concept of Kylie singing a simple “gays to the floor” disco number is about as revolutionary as meat and potatoes. However, “Wow” is a good example of Disco Kylie, and, on an album which attempts to squeeze Kylie into as many misguided sub-genres as it possibly can, stands as a beacon of the old familiar Kylie that we know and love. There is something to be said for a song that remains completely true to its artist, and “Wow” is so uniquely Kylie that it could easily live on 2002’s Fever or 2010’s Aphrodite without anyone raising an eyebrow.

Hyper-active, peppy, constructed with multiple electronic blips and sound effects, “Wow” is about as disposable as pop comes. It was released as a single and saw a reasonable amount of success, and it will undoubtedly fall quite comfortable in Kylie’s ever-growing armory of material for when she next packs up her stilettos and feathers, oils up those dancers and heads out on tour. And how we love you for it, Kylie.

Name: Pablo Nadal | Location: Huesca, Spain | Twitter: @peibols

12. Nu-Di-Ty: I don’t understand Kylie’s obsession with making it in America. The US-pop sound isn’t the best fit for her voice, but I do like it when she embraces Asian influences. Maybe that’s why “Nu-Di-Ty” didn’t grab me the first time, but I’ve come to love it. With time.

Halfway between electro and urban, “Nu-Di-Ty” isn’t particularly representative of Bloodshy & Avant’s trademark synth-heavy sound and doesn’t feature Karen Poole‘s finest lyrics. But the KylieX2008 Tour was a turning point, transforming it into a cute-but-still-slutty Japanese fetish song complimented by great visuals.

It’s a very sexy song, which makes it stand out on the album. Kylie hasn’t been this overtly sexual since covering “Physical.” It was a relief to see that she was still a sexual woman. “Nu-Di-Ty” would be the perfect soundtrack for a futuristic hook-up in a downtown hotel, the kind of place where Rick Deckard would meet Rachael in Blade Runner.

Name: Paul Reynolds | Location: Birmingham, England | Twitter: @myfizzypop

13. Cosmic: Tucked away at the end of X, “Cosmic” represents a more subdued, introspective Kylie Minogue, and the result of her soul searching has never been more lovely. Sure, X proved that she’s a fighter and can come back booty popping & slut dropping with the best of them – yet “Cosmic” is all stripped back, sadly seductive in its wistful siren song. It’s beautifully restrained and choked with emotion with some glorious string, giving it a truly elegant, sumptuous feel. That heavenly middle 8 is as light (years) as a butterfly, as delicious as chocolate and leaves you begging for more. Notably it was co-written with Adele collaborator Eg White, so it’s nice to see that not everything has to be belted to the rafters as if your next meal depended on it. Sometimes less is more – and acts like the aforementioned Adele, Mariah, Nicki Minaj (et al.) would benefit from remembering that sometimes.

But for all it’s beauty, the mellifluous nature of “Cosmic” gets lost in the true legacy of X — which songs people thought should have been singles, and when. And in our (2) hearts, everyone really just wants Kylie banging away on the dancefloor.

Name: Bobby Hanlon | Location: London, England | Twitter: @bobbypop

BONUS – White Diamond: The album X encapsulated a fighting spirit from Kylie – the one ready to return, rip up the disco, have all our heartbeats rocking and completely wow the world after a diagnosis of cancer that stopped her Showgirl Tour. “White Diamond” was the one song that enshrined that essence without having to spell out the fact that she had just survived one of the biggest challenges of her life. Written by Kylie, Jake Shears & Babydaddy of the Scissor Sisters, “White Diamond” originally ruffled its feathers like a delicious disco hybrid of “Xanadu” & “Lets Get Physical.” Yet the version available on special versions of X was completely re-arranged by Steve Anderson – Kylie Minogue’s music director.

Not only did this magical re-working become an early prologue and template to the Abbey Road album, the very unique version of “White Diamond” also now stands out as it became the anthem of the X period taking the centre stage on her first very US tour and the core theme to Kylie’s film that shared the same name. Kylie’s angelic vocal delivery married to a resplendent orchestral arrangement ensured that those lyrics (“I’ll shine on and on”) felt different, warm and cosy, but also powerful and understanding. Kylie promised to her audience that despite the last difficult last 2 years she “would be there” glowing in the “silver shadows,” where “every tear would look out of place.”

“White Diamond” is not just any Kylie track – it felt like a loving embrace to her family, friends and fans. It enshrined all those emotions from that time even if it wasn’t crystallized exactly into a phrase, statement, verse or chorus. Taken as a whole, “White Diamond” emerged as the sparkling jewel from the album, the flare and firework set alight by Kylie signalling that she was back and she would shine on and on and on.

What’s your favorite song on Kylie’s X? Tell us in the comments, then sound off on Facebook and Twitter!