I love sex and a good party as much as the next guy, but I hate that contemporary pop music is filled with repetitive, unimaginative lyrics about this subject matter. There was a time when big stars like Janet Jackson and Madonna sang about sex and dancing to raise questions, push the envelope and empower people, but this trend has devolved into Auto-Tune hacks alla Kesha (notice the missing $ following her stint in rehab) regaling listeners with idiotic lines like “I want to get naked and you’re wasted.”
It’s bad enough that songs like “Tik Tok” kill adult brain cells with their vapidity, but it’s especially concerning that young kids listen to this garbage and emulate these twigged out pop tarts. Sure, Madonna is still around and we have Katy Perry and Taylor Swift to provide some balance with their relatively sweet and thoughtful songs, but there is a dearth of role models in the contemporary pop landscape nonetheless.
Fortunately, one sadly under-appreciated pop princess, duchess, queen, and countess is coming to our rescue!
At first glance the album may appear to be exactly the same kind of pop trash as the aforementioned Kesha single, seeing as the word “sex” appears in the titles of three of the record's 11 tracks. However, Ms. Minogue explores the themes of sex and love with fresh beats and silky smooth sophistication that set her a “Million Miles” (that’s a track reference) apart from others in the current pop scene.
Minogue owns herself from the very first lines of “Into The Blue,” the opening track that sets the funky, fun electronic tone for the rest of the record. “I drew the smile upon my face / I paved the road that would one day leave me lonely,” she sings soothingly over an easy beat, demonstrating an insightful woman who acknowledges responsibility for her own destiny. “When I got my back up against the wall / Don’t need no one to rescue me,” she continues in the chorus, leading to the song’s most empowering line: “‘Cause I ain’t waiting up for no miracle / Yeah tonight I’m running free.”
Up next is “Million Miles,” a song about the glorious thrills of mind-blowing sex that gets complicated by mixed emotions and uncertainty. “When you touch my body / I go weak but you’re so hard for me to reach,” she coos. It’s a place where many no doubt have found themselves, which is why the song titillates and resonates at the same time.
“I Was Gonna Cancel” follows with a look back on the day when Kylie almost cancelled on Pharrell Williams, who produced the track. A minor bad day for Kylie turned into an understated but inspiring anthem for her listeners about turning things around and making good out of bad.
Shut out all the doubt
Just get up and go
What's on the other side?
You will never know unless you
Go, go, go, gi-i-irl
From there the album go, go, goes to two of the three sex titles.
Its title suggests that “Sexy Love” could be about nothing, but it finds Kylie deep in love and craving the passion that comes with that. There is sizzle mixed with an easy to sway to beat, but the emotional exploration makes this song about more than a casual tryst.
“Sexercize” is not so thoughtful though. Its hard beat just makes the listener want to get down. Unlike the other sex-themed songs on the album, this track is unabashedly, unapologetically about getting dirty and losing oneself in the euphoria. It’s a fun listen, and given that Ms. Minogue devotes much of the album to exploring actual sexual intimacy, she cannot be faulted for simply wanting to have fun in the moment.
The next track, “Feel So Good,” is playful, like a Saturday afternoon that new lovers might spend in bed. It’s a little moment in an otherwise big album, and an easy listen that really does feel so good.
“If Only” follows up with a poignant melody reinforced by funky electronic drumbeats similar to the clanking in Martin Garrix's "Animals." It’s a sonic delight and pulls on the heartstrings with its lyrics about finding true love.
“Kiss Me Once,” the album’s title track, is a sweet declaration of Kylie’s capacity to love. “Kiss me once / And you will watch me fall / Kiss me twice / And I will give you my all,” she sings over a lovely melody that harkens to the 80’s glory days of pop.
“Beautiful,” a beautiful song about long-lasting love featuring Enrique Iglesias, begins to close the album. It’s romantic and lovely and will probably make us all wish for decades-long relationships.
Finally, the album concludes with “Fine,” in which Kylie reassures us that we’re going to be, well… “Fi-i-ine, you're gonna be fi-i-ine / It's gonna be OK a brighter day will come, come, come.”
Kiss Me Once is a superb sonic experience that challenges the listener not to dance while embarking on a journey in which sex is much more than a mistake during a drunken stupor. Kylie Minogue demonstrates dimensionality and class in every track, thereby illustrating that a woman—and, by extension, any person—can have fun with her sexuality without exploiting it for its own sake and devolving it to mindless babble. A+