Kylie Minogue “Aphrodite” Review
Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: Album Reviews, Music.
Sexuality in the realm of female-fronted pop music, or music in general, is nothing new. But in the past couple of decades what has evolved has shifted closer to a sort of “forced sexuality”: overt eroticism with little regard to context or artist. Sure, each situation is as unique as the individual in question, but whether or not an individual’s sexuality is accurately reflected with their public persona isn’t necessarily relevant when there are studio-heads, producers, agents, or any number of other people involved in the picture with interests in their own financial well-being that are tied directly to an artist and their commercial viability. And as the shift of what’s in demand continues its evolution we’re left with increasingly absurd results: Regardless of whether or not this takes the form of a 16-year-old Miley Cyrus taking to a stripper’s pole on stage, a 17-year-old Britney Spears assuming the role of a sexy School-Girl on screen, or a 22-year-old Christina Aguilera simulating sex in a music video, it’s hard not to step back and wonder “When did this become normal?” While it’s easy to condemn the outrageousness of this shift, it’s just as easy to forget that it didn’t happen over night. Madonna was doing her Sex-thing in 1992 and she was far (FAR) from the first to blur the lines between music and sexuality; but even Madonna was allowed to take things at her own pace.
While Kylie Minogue, herself, leaned on the allure of a revealing outfit in her 2001 video for “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” something about the visuals spurred a different feeling than that of her contemporaries at the time: Minogue glowed, and continues to do so to this day, with a playful sensuality. Maybe this has to do with her personality, but it would hardly be unfair to suggest that it comes down to the time she was given to expand as a public persona, an artist, and ultimately as a woman. She was doing “The Loco-Motion” five years before Miley Cyrus was even born and the push wasn’t there—perhaps, at least not like it is now—to immediately move toward prematurely developing a sexual persona. Ultimately, over time, she was allowed to mature on her own and this came out as her personality evolved. And now at the age of 42 this is something that still translates, leaving her music, videos and performances in high contrast to much of what else is out there.
Assuming the title of the Greek goddess of beauty, love, and sexuality, Minogue’s 11th studio album is a celebration of living. “Dance,” she declares in the album’s opener, continuing, “It’s all I want to do so won’t you dance.” “All The Lovers” leads the album with its basic production and acutely focused lyrics lending themes that would be continued throughout Aphrodite. “Get Outta My Way” follows by taking an enthusiastic stance, Minogue reflecting on her urge to explore life while at the same time giving her frustratingly sluggish partner an ultimatum, “This is what’ll happen if you ain’t givin’ your girl what she needs.” Again, Aphrodite is about living, and for Minogue that simply means finding love and searching for something more.
The self-explanatory “Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)” is followed by “Closer” which introduces a pulsating electric background that arouses similarities to the electric harpsichord used by ABBA back in the ’70s. “Everything is Beautiful” captures a (relatively) slowed down beat which allows Minogue the opportunity to expand on her vocals which, to this point, have been largely under-emphasized. With a cheesy “Can you feel me in stereo?” introduction, which is repeated throughout the song, the album’s title track actually adds a surprisingly sharp chorus as it rounds out the first half of the record, “I’m fierce and I’m feeling mighty,/I’m a golden girl, I’m an Aphrodite, alright. Alright, yeah, yeah, yeah/I’m fierce and I’m feeling mighty/Don’t you mess with me, you don’t wanna fight me, alright. Alright, yeah, yeah, yeah.”
The Euro-pop “Illusion” is followed by the rhythmically engrossing “Better Than Today” which finds Minogue breaking down what might be the simplest personal mission statement ever: “What’s the point of living if you don’t want to dance?” The Calvin Harris produced “Too Much” introduces a pulsating synth that separates the song’s sound from the rest of Aphrodite, though still a sound which bleeds into “Cupid Boy,” a track co-written and co-produced by Sweden-based DJ Sebastian Ingrosso. The lighthearted “Looking For An Angel” and the upbeat “Can’t Beat That Feeling” close out the record, lending the second half of Aphrodite a tremendously energetic feeling, and certainly one that fails to subside.
Hardly overwhelming in their lyrical appeal, the album’s songs are founded on production largely akin to early-to-mid ’90s dance with bits and pieces of today’s musical influences scattered amongst them for good measure. And to say that Aphrodite was created for anything but dancing would be reading far too much into the music. But with Kylie Minogue that’s par for the course, and definitely not a bad thing. When it comes down to it, Aphrodite is a simple album and it doesn’t carry much weight beyond its pop-appeal, but it stands as a sincerely alluring alternative to the artificial feeling left behind by that “forced sexuality” which is perpetually being pushed by a younger crowd of pop icons. And if only for that reason alone, the album is a breath of fresh air.
[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]