Peter Robinson of PopJustice / NME has just written a piece for the new Attitude that examines the problems with Kylie Minogue's X project. I haven't been able toget my sweaty hands on it yet, but I've heard he takes Kylie's collaborator Will Baker to task, as well as the record label and large number of people trying to control Kylie's post-cancer return to pop. Here is what I wrote on the PJ Forums:
I like X as a collection of songs - though it has no coherence as an album. It's like a hits package. I have not read Peter's piece, but here's the one thing about Baker - he spent much of White Diamond trying to convince Kylie to show more of her true self as he knows her. And she didn't. That's my theory as to why he included the cringey Will-cries-and-is-comforted-by-Kylie scene. Trying to show her as a friend. At a certain point the smiley pop becomes tiresome and he knows that. We already get the sense that Kylie is actually a nice person, but I sometimes wonder if he's trying to make her into something she really is not. She's been in the public eye for so long that the shield is permanently up.
I am not sure of Will or EMI's control over X, but it seemed a good moment for her to make a more personal statement. It sounds like Will viewed it as a chance for her to widen her styles. She is never going to be a hit in America and that's fine. She should not worry about it! I do think the X album cover is EPIC, but in general, as a stylist Will has become wretched... run out of tricks. Let the woman be PRETTY for Godssakes! His tour costuming is infantile - I assume the designers followed some sort of direction. Remember her in the beautiful dress on the moon in the Showgirl tour? Wow indeed.
I should note that I think Janet Jackson and Madonna have also suffered from identity crises this year, with too many cooks in the kitchen and too many bases to cover. Becoming sort of shallow at the moment when one hopes the wisdom of a life well lived would inform their music. After so many records sold, Kylie should exercise the creative control she has earned.
But again, an album that contains Wow, Stars, The One, Cosmic and All I See is pretty fucking great in my book. In fact, the extended versions of All I See and The One rank as some of her most sublime moments.
Update: I've finally read the article. It uses The One as a solid example of the cock-ups with X: Perhaps the most obvious hit single, released at the end of the campaign with no video (and apparently not performed on tour!). Robinson's final parapgraph is the kicker. His advice:
Think about how you want to be remembered in 200 years. Distill that vision into ten songs. Be selfish. Do not be distracted by what you think your fans want... you can do anything, but you will only truly succeed when people know you're calling your own shots. Just be yourself rather than what other people want you to be.
Background reading: Read my thoughts on X / Paul also commented on this topic