Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Music Box: Kylie Minogue

Dear Madonna --

Wow! I feel kinda weird writing to you under these circumstances, but what can I say? Things just haven't been right between us now for a long time. Still, don't let the headline on this post fool you into thinking this is one of those Madonna vs. Kylie type of things -- that 45 of "I Should Be So Lucky" I purchased in 1988 is my complete Kylie "collection" -- although she does factor into why I'm writing you.

You see, last Thursday I got an e-mail from a friend's production company letting me know that pre-sale tickets were going on sale for Kylie's first-ever North American tour. Out of nowhere -- and without any hesitation -- I turned to my boyfriend and said, "Oh, my god. Kylie's coming. We've GOT to get tickets!!!" I logged on and found out I needed an American Express card to get them and after striking out with my 1980s Optima card -- which I haven't used since the early 1990s but for some reason still have in my wallet for these occasions only to find out THEY don't even take it for THEIR OWN promotion! -- called my Amex-using brother Bill to see if he'd try.
SCORE! Two tickets for Night 2 at Hammerstein Ballroom! Michael and I were so excited and I went to work that night smiling ear to ear thinking what a totally fun GAY event this was going to be -- FIVE MONTHS from now! Then I e-mailed my Kylie-worshipping BFF Greg and told him he needed tell me exactly what I needed to cram for this greatest-hits-style concert. (He promptly directed me to the two-disc "Ultimate Kylie" album, which I downloaded and began playing nonstop.)

It was the next day as I was already singing along to every song like I'd known them forever that a twinge of sadness came over me as I thought about how much I missed you and wondered why I hadn't I gone to see YOU on your last FOUR tours. (Well, technically five. But the Girlie Show didn't even come through D.C.) You're the one I fell in love with as a teenager, whose debut album Greg and I bought -- along with "She's So Unusual" -- at MusicLand at Fiesta Mall in high school. You're the one I went to see repeatedly at the movies in "Desperately Seeking Susan" (and even "Who's That Girl"!). You're the one I went to see in concert three times early on. You're the one I've (repeatedly in all formats) bought every album by -- and even held onto a few singles by (moving 3,000 miles twice was not enough for me to part with that "Borderline"poster or blue vinyl "True Blue" 45!). But then I remembered why it was Kylie tickets and not yours: YOU'RE NO FUN ANYMORE. Do I really want to shell out 200 bucks to watch you do the same old hypersexual dance moves with your same old 20 mixed-race bisexual dancers (all in unison, now!) while hanging off a cross or showing some other tired "political" or otherwise "shocking" video AGAIN -- all while you REFUSE to sing perform the songs your fans want to hear most?? (I think you know the answer.)

I got even sadder then as I almost wished I could have my Madonna memory flushed and be listening to YOUR greatest hits with virgin ears all over again instead of Kylie's. She's adorable and all, but there's no questioning your musical superiority (what I'd give to hear "Holiday," "Angel" or "Cherish" for the VERY FIRST TIME again). Yet your relentless aversion to your past has made your present someone I don't know -- and someone I don't even want to get to know.

Here's the thing, Madonna. When stars maintain their ENORMOUS FAME for as long as you have, there are really only two ways it can go. They can either become freaky caricatures of themselves (think Michael Jackson). Or, over time, they can offer a small hint of humanity to their fans, a way of letting us know that even though they're still "icons" resting on top of the world after all this time, deep down they're people too. (Cher breaking down during her eulogy at Sonny's funeral, or Steffi Graf -- whose German rigidness makes you look like a lazy Michigander -- tearing up when she won her last Grand Slam title after being injured for nearly three years both come to mind.) We GET IT that you're 50 and still can run around a stage for hours on end and jump rope like a tween. We get it that you can still "make" yourself look like you're Lourdes' younger sister. But that's not what we want from you. What we really want to see at this stage in your career is that you're a real live human being. ONE OF US! While you've certainly had your opportunities for this, somehow moments that should have made you seem more vulnerable -- being violently tossed from a horse, another divorce, this time with three young children involved -- have only made you come across colder, harder, more distant and more heartless.

So I cling to the first two WONDERFUL decades of our love affair and plead with you -- before it's entirely too late -- to take a look in the mirror and try to stop yourself from becoming Michael and Liza rolled into one. Here's a thought: Enough with the kabbalah bullshit (you're a lapsed Roman Catholic from Michigan, for crying out loud, although I guess I should be thankful you're not a Scientologist). Enough with the plastic surgery (I only have room for one of THOSE divas in my stable and Cher's got you beat by ages!). Enough with the human growth hormone (it can't be good for your body long-term and the leanness it enables you to achieve just makes your plastic surgery look more fake). Enough with the "youth" clothing schemes (H&M and Ed Hardy???). And most importantly, enough with the desperate musical collaborations with [FILL IN WHAT'S TRENDY AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT HERE]. (Justin Timberlake? REALLY????) Instead, why not show us you have a soft side and give your fans what we want for a change? I know you're working on some tracks for yet another greatest hits album (I won't even mention the fact that you've only had four minor Top 40 hits since your last collection, and I'm counting the No. 37 "smash" "American Life"). Instead of jumping into bed with the latest producer du jour, how about giving your old pals Stephen Bray and Patrick Leonard a call and coming up with something -- well, GREAT again? You know, just like you used to do -- all the time. (Oh, and a successful battle with breast cancer wouldn't hurt you in the likability department either, not that I'd wish that on anyone.)

In the meantime, I'm REALLY excited about this Kylie show (and I didn't even have to sell a kidney to get tickets!). Songs like "Love at First Sight," "Come Into My World," "Red Blooded Woman," "Giving You Up" and "Slow" almost act as a replacement for all of the fun music you should have been recording instead of much of "Music" and "Confessions on a Dance Floor" (did you really have to subject us to "Isaac"?!) and MOST of "American Life" and "Hard Candy" (some of that one is truly intolerable.) And just try to tell me you're not green with envy over "Can't Get Blue Monday Out of My Head"?!

Sure, it may feel like love don't live here anymore. But it wouldn't take much to bring it back. Meanwhile, all you Kylie fans can tell me what I'm missing out on by only having her greatest hits album. I might even take your advice as I doubt you-know-who will be taking mine.

Love (actually),

Kenneth in the TWO-WON-TOO

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    Rocketman73 said...


    alberto mario said...

    Funny, funny, funny! But, at the same time, you hit a nerve... I'm a fan of Madonna since her first album (I was living in the states when she took the airwaves by storm) and is my solid conviction that all her work until Ray of Light is the best, but after that... kind of bleh! Kudos for her and her work though, but you, Kenneth, you maybe are hinting to the truth, hope she can read this somehow or whatever...

    martymartymarty said...

    I really like this, thank you for sharing it! It captures a lot of what I have been feeling about Madonna, too - though I could never bring myself to listen to 2-CD's worth of Kylie!!! ;-)

    Chad said...

    You should definitely send that letter to Madonna, via Liz Rosenberg... :)

    Unknown said...

    I was beyond excited when I heard that Kylie was FINALLY coming to North America, and when I tried to get tickets at 10:00 AM sharp last week and couldn't, I think my gasp was heard around the world.

    Luckily I managed to score tickets later on that day, so I will be attending the October 11th concert in NYC as well!

    I am excited to see what she is going to perform. I really hope she focuses on her latest album because it is so good. I could honestly do without "The Locomotion", "Can't Get You Out of my Head" (sorry) and "Come into my World".

    Frank Anthony Polito said...

    While I enjoy reading your news bits culled from various other sites, as well as the pics of the hot guys du jour, THESE are the kinds of posts that keep me coming back for more... Bravo!

    Anonymous said...

    I'll be there - Monday night!

    nojarama said...

    I'm a HUGE Kylie fan (yep, all the way back to the first 'cos she sounded like the Na-Na's). Sadly, I can't go to her LA show (being broke & not having any local friends who dig her like I do doesn't help).

    As for Mo, this past album alienated me much like "Like A Virgin" did when it came out. I ran away screaming. When she goes mainstream, I run & hide. If she returns to the electronica/dance stuff (that I LOVE), I might return with my love (and my wallet)...

    Have fun at Kylie!!!

    S said...

    But what do you really feel like, Kenneth?

    Brettcajun said...

    I do prefer the Classic Madonna to what she has beeing doing lately. I think she was at her best during the days of the Evita movie soundtrack and the Ray of Light album.

    I have immensely enjoyed her later songs of "Paradise Not For Me", "Music", "Nothing Fails", "Hung Up" and "4 Minutes to Save the World".

    Dan said...

    Bravo - a great post. You articulated what many a Madonna fan feels these days. She has seriously lost it and while it's not too late to get it back, she will have to work for it now. I will beg to differ re: Confessions on a Dance Floor. It stands out as her best latter-day work and gives some of the early stuff a run for its money.

    I was not a huge fan of Kylie's X album at first, but it is one of those that grows on you and really, a couple years after its release, it sounds great. I'd search that out if you haven't already.

    Morgan said...

    Thanks for posting this! As soon as I saw this I went to Ticketmaster and bought tickets. I've sort of been waiting for this tour since I first heard her 7 years ago.

    chuck said...

    Wow! Big "Amen" and "Hallelujah"!

    scott said...

    so good to hear you're going. i snagged tix for the first show. hope you like it!

    as for recommendations, i prefer the later catalog. that stuff with stock, aiken, waterman in the 80s is fun, but as she developed she got a bit more experimental. therefore:

    for disco kylie - get "light years" (be sure to listen to "your disco needs you," possibly the GAYEST SONG EVER. also, "spinning around" was written by Paula Abdul, initially intended as her comeback)
    for r&b/pop - get "body language" (arguably her most cohesive album. "chocolate" is the best here)
    for experimental pop/rock - get "Impossible Princess" (this was her lowest selling, but a rather interesting album nonetheless)

    my personal favorite is "X." it's a great blend of modern electronic pop blended with synth-80s. as a rabid early Madonna fan, you will recognize the similarities (particularly on "wow" and "in my arms." madonna herself has even commented that "speakerphone" is her favorite track on this album).

    also, be on the lookout on many a music blog for any B-sides or remixes. those are always fun. for a primer, her "speakerphone" remix album is a good introduction of remixes (of course, there are many more, if not better remixes).

    to see a good concert performance, rent/netflix the dvd of "Showgirl: Homecoming Tour." this was filmed after her cancer scare when she resumed her tour in Australia. the "fever" tour is also fun. if you like. this is likely what her show will resemble most.

    rlm said...

    Although I absolutely love Madonna, I have to admit I agree with many of the things you've mentioned in this post. Especially the "collaborations" part. I've been a fan since I was 6. She grabbed my hand at the Confessions Tour (I travelled all the way from Peru to see her) and I still like most of her recent work, but I do feel she needs to put more effort into her songwriting, music videos, etc. (like making Give It 2 Me from the Elle magazine photoshoot, I mean, how lazy was that?). I have faith that she will recover from this.
    On the Kylie note, I am SO surprised this is her first US tour, I mean she was here in Lima last year and it was unbelievable. Unfortunately she didn't get to sing the whole setlist because part of her wardrobe and equipment got lost on the way here but I DEFINITELY recommend Your Disco Needs You. It was one of the highlights of the show. She didn't sing I Should Be So Lucky though, and that was kind of disappointing. Here's a video from the tour :

    Anonymous said...

    Welcome to the world of Kylie Minogue! It's a lot of fun.

    Anonymous said...

    OMG we'll be at the same concert together!

    I like Kylie's 'X' album, in particular "Wow". The RSS remix of Wow is a lot of fun.


    Steven said...

    Brilliant Post! This is exactly how I feel about Madonna. I want to love all her music but it's hard when she puts out crap like "4 minutes". I loved "Give it to me" until the cowbell. Yes, this is instance of too much cowbell. But like you mentioned I wish Madonna would just mature in her life and music. Much like she was doing in "Ray of Light" and the "Evita" soundtrack.

    Have a great time at Kylie. My friends and I traveled to Berlin last summer to see her X tour and she did not disappoint. She was AMAZING!

    I agree with "Scott" on what Kylie schooling you'll need before her show. But besides watching the DVDs of "Fever" and "Showgirl: Homecoming" I would also watch the original "Showgirl" concert that was recorded in London. There are some slight changes between the 2 "Showgirl" concerts. Most notably the 'In Denial' segment, it's very moving. Lastly make sure to purchase/download the "Showgirl: Homecoming" Live audio CD and enjoy your new Summer CD! BTW I submitted this post to "stumble upon."

    Unknown said...

    Wow! What a great post! I still have my early Madonna collectible 45s also. I first knew Madonna was different when I saw Burning Up on MTV. Madonna's latest CD is the worst I've heard (save for Miles Away and Give It 2 Me (but mainly the remixes for those songs). I LOVED most of Confessions though. As for Kylie, Red Blooded Woman deserves a mention!

    Chris MCB said...

    That was a good read Kenneth. Part of the reason why these days I'm more a Kylie fan than a Madonna one. Kylie hurt me when she did Light Years but Madonna has cut deeper. And think about, these days Kylie isn't ashamed of her past. She embraces it. The finale when I saw the X Tour was "I Should Be So Lucky" in it's original arrangement. She is also a great entertainer (probably due to her lack of musical talent per se). You are gonna have a ball.

    As for recommendations, I would go for all the post Stock Aitken Waterman stuff, album wise. Fever is her best when it comes to fun pop but you will also enjoy Body Language and X. Impossible Princess is my personal fave but it is very "experimental" for her and is either loved or hated by her fanbase. It is very divisive.

    Jo said...

    Kylie?? Kylie who!? I think she stopped being relevant about the time of Body Language! she had one minor resurgence in popularity back in 2002, but it quickly died out like a fad. It's only now in her career that she's touring America, and at 41! not everything Madonna does is fabulous, but still, her weaker efforts are better than most of Kylie's best. Madonna is still successful at 50, while Kylie's current musical output is largely ignored by the general public! I don't know why people still talk about Kylie to be honest, and pathetically mention her alongside Madonna all the time when Madonna's done everything Kylie's thought of years in advance! I think people feel sorry for Kylie more than they actually respect her as musician or songwriter. I've always thought there was an patronizing undertone to the affection shown towards Kylie. Kylie obviously likes it and would rather put up with that than be forgotten, but in all fairness, apart from her diehards, a lot of people have or are starting to switch off from the whole Kylie phenomena! American can have her, but will they know enough about her to sing along to most of her "hits"?

    I do realize that you won't publish my post because everything has to be flattering towards Kylie! ;)

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