Sunday Sundries: New Album, New Kylie
Let's talk Tension!
Hi folks! Welcome back to Sunday Sundries, where I talk about whatever’s on my mind.
Today, let’s talk about Kylie Minogue. She’s back with a new album, and I’m loving the tracks released so far. But my Kylie story goes back much farther than this.
Whereas Miley caught me just recently with Flowers, and I’m now a solid fan; Kylie has been with me my whole life.
One of my earliest memories is dancing around, bouncing on the bed, and generally making a racket singing along to Kylie’s first couple of albums with a school friend.
In Neighbours, Kylie and Jason were a huge deal: their characters, Charlene and Scott, getting married was such an important moment in the show that they returned, after 30-ish years away, for the big finale as it ended this year. I’ve not actually watched the show in many years, but even I couldn’t miss that happening.
I recall we had video tapes of both Kylie and Jason videos (individual songs and duets).
I recall my excitement every time more Kylie arrived. I remember my happiness on watching the videos of things like Put Yourself in my Place and Where the Wild Roses Grow for the first time. Each new album hailed a new Kylie, and I’ve always loved that. She reinvents without shame, and that’s why she’s still here, at 55, releasing club tracks, singing and dancing just as enthusiastically as she ever did.
So then, onto Tension. The full album comes out September 22nd, but she’s already released 2 tracks: Padam and Tension. I’ve really enjoyed both and they’ve been competing for earworm of the hour in my head for a reason. They both have their own things to make them distinct, but actually one of my favourite things is that they complement each other. Padam followed by Tension tells a story.
Here’s the first one, Padam:
We have a flawless-looking Kylie, all in red, with her dancers posed and ready to go. There’s a cafe theme in here, rather than the club that’s indicated. When in the cafe, she looks thoughtful, like perhaps she’s remembering the things she sings of. She’s also gone for a solo performance with background dancers, whereas I feel most younger artists would go for a more half-naked bodies in the club type of option (not a criticism, just an observation). Kylie doesn’t need to do that. She already has everything required for the performance, and she’s working with Sophie Muller again (for both videos), so there’s nothing here that isn’t intentional.
But, of course, not everything needs to mean everything, both of these videos have a distinct style, and sometimes the aesthetic, by itself, is the point.
As we hit the first chorus, the meaning of “Padam” becomes clear—it’s the heartbeat of the person she’s met in the club.
It’s also the first time we see the dancers moving. It’s a very on-the-beat dance, echoing the heartbeat, but more importantly it’s also the first time we see Kylie up and moving.
She’s behind them, atop an old, beaten up car, and the red, skintight suit she’s wearing is revealed to also have, attached at the waist, two fine mesh veil type things, which do some very cool billowing about (including into Kylie’s face, where she calmly uses the dance she’s doing to push them off again).
Also notable, the dance bears some similarities to the dance in Tension: like I said, the two are connected!
Onto Tension, then:
This video is absolutely fascinating. It’s got this future-glam type setting, with Kylie taking on 4 completely different styles.
Dominant Kylie - platinum blonde in a piled up Marcel wave style, smoky black eyeliner and black lipstick, matched with a short black dress with sheer, but decorated, arms, and thigh-high black boots. This Kylie is controlling everything from her panel of dials, levers, buttons and screens (until she simply can’t resist dancing later on).
Paris, Texas Kylie - literally took the look from Nastassja Kinski in Paris, Texas (incidentally, the film that gave the name to another of my faves: Texas), down to the mirror scene itself. Why? I don’t know, but it looks good, and that outfit is the one that brings the other three down to the ground again. We see this Kylie interacting with the giant glitter version, and it’s this Kylie that enters and leaves the building. as if this is the one that the whole performance is for.
Glitter Kylie - starts off on a giant screen, then just climbs out. She’s wearing a bright red wig, and a dress so glittery it looks like a dancing disco ball. This Kylie is the main performer. The others do the things too, but this is the one Paris, Texas Kylie came to see, and she doesn’t disappoint. The dance moves are sure and firm, and she owns the screen whenever she’s on it (and not just because of her size)
Feather Kylie - this is basically Kylie wearing yellow feathers—headdress, clothes, etc. We don’t see her much, and she’s always titchy. She shows up first dancing on a table with Dominant Kylie and Paris, Texas Kylie (both very busy flirting with each other), and a couple of times on Dominant Kylie’s screens, but that’s all. I wonder if that’s just a reference to Kylie being a bit of a titch (she’s 5ft tall), but that might just be me amusing myself.
I love in this that these versions of Kylie often wind up flirting with both the viewer and each other, often at the same time.
The whole dance sequence is great to watch, but two specific moves, amongst the rest, for some reason, always catch my attention: the “break the tension” and side-to-side “touch me right there”—but you can see them for yourself.
I also love the sharpness in some of the moves—there’s some video magic there speeding some of them up (like Dominant Kylie doing the hip-step), but it fits and it works, especially with the rest of the moves.
So, there’s both of the videos, but back to the bit where they’re connected. There’s the dances, yep, they go from the backup dancers in Padam, to Kylie in Tension, in a way that feels like they evolved. From now (Padam), into the future (Tension), just as Kylie evolves through both of the videos in her looks and dancing.
But more than that is simply the lyrics.
Padam is about meeting someone at a club. Knowing they want you, knowing you want them too, and it being clear that you both want to act on that.
Tension follows these two people home. It’s a bit of a horny song (the chorus is all about making Kylie orgasm, and why the hell not!), because this is what happens when you get the people from Padam, into a place where they can actually fuck. That’s the story.
It’s not an unusual story, it’s not a particularly special story, but I like that it tells one. I also really like the fact that it’s a woman telling that story, from her side, and guiding her sex partner in how to make her feel good.
Kylie long ago stopped letting things like cultural demands and misogyny stop her from showing freedom in her music (and videos)—and thus she encourages it in others. She does it again here, and she’s clearly still enjoying herself.
Finally, lest we forget: Kylie is an LGBT ally and always has been, she loves her queer fans, and when asked which bathroom trans women should use, responded:
If you’re a transgender woman, you should use the women’s facilities, surely
There are plenty of people in the world who wanna make some noise and be disruptive. All the brave people who do make the noise, I admire them.
But you have to figure out who’s making noise for the right reasons.
And as far as I can remember (aside from the misogyny thrown at her for literally everything, which doesn’t count) she’s basically unproblematic.
So hit up Kylie’s new album when it comes out, maybe catch her older ones til then. I’m looking forward to it!
That’s all for today! Please subscribe, share, like, etc.
And a quick update on your special present: I’ve got episode one locked in. It took a few tries but I finally got one I’m happy with. Once I have the second, I’ll release both and give you all that free premium for a couple of months!
Til next time!