Saturday, December 26, 2009

"Can't Get You Out of My Head" by Kylie Minogue (2001)

Ah, Kylie. What can I say?

I am neither a gay man nor a teenage girl, so by rights this song, like the rest of Kylie Minogue’s oeuvre, should do nothing for me. In fact, more to the point, it should trigger my gag reflex and send me hurling, right? That would be the expected typical adult heterosexual male response to Kylie? And then to run off and play some Pearl Jam or crap like that?

Kylie’s music is angst-free low-calorie entertainment. The thing is that I reckon that’s a compliment. I’ll take genuinely artificial over artificially genuine any day. And Kylie brings to her pop ditties a legitimate dedication to, and pride in, making people happy.

“Can’t Get You Out of my Head” doesn’t mean anything. It’s a skip-rope melody over a roller-rink beat. Its catch phrase is ‘na na na’ repeated over and over again. A nine-year-old could dance deliriously to it and appreciate it in just the same way I do.

Is there anything wrong with any of that? Not a bit. Songs like this can fall very easily into tackiness, phoniness and deliberate childishness. In my opinion, this song has none of these shortcomings, and Ms. Minogue herself deserves most of the credit for that: her performance is filled with sexiness but confidence, a love of life that still takes life seriously. It took Kylie a long time to get to that stage (and she didn’t hold onto it long): between “I Should Be So Lucky” and this (not the widest progression musically) she went through all kinds of phases, but finally came back to what she was good at, with an appreciation that being good at this kind of music is (a) no small feat, and (b) a real gift.

The result made her superhuge, or else remade her as superhuge. The trick? Showing that ‘pop’ really does mean ‘popular’, in the most democratic vox populi manner possible. I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying this song – in keeping with the opening paragraph, I should say that while I can imagine lots of people claiming not to like this song, in their hearts, alone in their rooms with their headphones on, I can’t imagine anyone not being transported to a place of simplicity and of innocence.

No wonder she’s such a gay icon!
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