In Your Eyes: my 12 favourite Kylie Minogue videos 7

In Your Eyes: my 12 favourite Kylie Minogue videos

Kylie Minogue‘s videos are more than just promotional films, they have become signposts for the different eras of her career and foreshadow her next moves. They are vivid time capsules of her ability to make the right choices, pick out the right directors, and work with a range of collaborators, yet still be able to make the visuals and styling her own. This is one of her real strengths. Relatable, warm and using her niceness and ability to capture a joyfulness as an antidote to an era of pop that at times took itself too seriously – Kylie has always possessed a magnetic ability perhaps informed by her early years as a child actress in The Sullivans to be at ease with the camera and look through the lens and connect with her fans on a down to earth level. This is an underrated talent – one that has helped sustain and build her audience over multiple decades. She’s no stranger to reinventing herself either – her self-aware videos for Deconstructed had more in common with independent artists of the 1990s. ‘Spinning Around‘ gold hot pants and all, marked her return to pure disco-pop and her striking latter videos, in particular, took her visual and artistic work to another level, her confidence growing so much so that, rather like Madonna, when you think of specific Kylie singles the video comes straight to mind too.

Still massively influential today, Kylie was once harshly dismissed as “a singing Budgie” upon the release of ‘The Locomotion‘. She is now an icon of pop, with a legion of fans of all ages and sexualities. Nick Levine argued in 2020 on the BBC website that “Kylie Minogue is the most charming and unassuming pop superstar of all. She’s never been as provocative as Madonna or a vocal marvel to rival Mariah Carey, but her career has proven equally fascinating and enduring“.

She has influenced multiple generations of artists including Years and Years and Jessie Ware who she has collaborated with on the recent Disco remix album, Dua LipaKim Petras and Alice Chater who says “She’s just such a well-rounded pop star. Her songs, video and image are always incredibly well executed.”

Here, I pick out a selection of my favourite Kylie Minogue videos, there are many more I could have picked but I’ve narrowed it down to a dozen of my favourites

In Your Eyes: my 12 favourite Kylie Minogue videos

I Should Be So Lucky

We were introduced to Kylie through Charlene, a character in Aussie teatime soap Neighbours, a down to earth relatable tom girl who worked as a mechanic by day, that flipped gender norms on the one hand but was also an effervescent pretty blonde poppet with a frizzy perm that girls wanted to be and boys wanted to be with. This all culminated with the most memorable episode: the marriage of Charlene and Scott (Jason Donovan) that was watched by 19 million people in Britain. This all fed into her bright and bubbly early image in her early years under the wing of Stock, Aitken and Waterman.

Following ‘The Locomotion‘ which was a surprise hit in Australia, Mike Stock has recalled that they “insulted” 19-year-old Minogue by making her hang around for a week, before writing ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ that would become her next single in “about 40 minutes”.

‘I Should Be So Lucky’ with its chirpy SAW crafted bubble-gum pop is helmed by Kylie’s vocals that are at their early best: at once longing, lovelorn and bittersweet, but with the inner confidence of a young woman who knows what she wants. The accompanying video typifies her early shift from actress to pop idol, filmed between scenes for Neighbours at Channel 7 studios in Melbourne, this fun visual places our Kylie in different home situations, in her bedroom staring at a frame of her crush, in a bath and interspersed with very 80s green screen images of Valentine’s cards, as she dreams about her crush. It’s a cheap and cheerful, but memorable, down to earth teen pop concept that helped introduce Kylie the pop star to the British public.

Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi (I Still Love You)

A slight departure – ‘Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi (I Still Love You)’ lifted from her 1988 debut was one of the first Kylie videos that told a story. A budget attempt to recreate the look of Paris in the ’50s as Minogue waits wistfully in the rain for her date to arrive and then heads to a café. Kylie is styled in character too with some actual dialogue, her hair is set in waves and she is wearing a natty blue dress and cardigan. This is later wistfully intercut with a street scene that is filmed in black and white that shows Kylie in a floral dress as she dances with a mysterious man. This juxtaposition works well even if it could be mistaken for a scene from Allo Allo. Minogue is quite literally the only colourful part of the scene – her acting is charmingly unpolished as she admits she was “still learning on the job.”

Better the Devil You Know

Still with SAW, the video for ‘Better the Devil You Know’ was a departure for Kylie, turning up the raunch. This 1990 single marked a shift in Kylie’s image as it centred more on her sex appeal rather than the girl next door look that characterised her early years. It was a signal towards her playful and knowing shifts in imagery she would explore throughout the ’90s. The video, directed by Paul Goldman, was the first time Kylie truly collaborated with a director and took ownership of some of the styling. She later said that it was the first time she “felt part of the creative process”. She said: “I wasn’t in charge but I had a voice. I’d bought some clothes on King’s Road for the video. I saw a new way to express my point of view creatively.”

Cutting back and forth between fantastic 90s raving, as your Kylie is dressed in a strappy black dress backed by a fiery background in one scene then a short bob in another, a white cut tee and silver hot pants then a plastic rain coat as she is seen fleeing the scene, in some places the video was banned for being too risque. This imagery along with the song’s more strident sass of a Kylie who is sick of being messed around “I’ve heard it all before/a hundred times or more” and a thumping club ready pop sound makes ‘Better the Devil…’ video and single an iconic milestone in Kylie’s career. It ushered in a focus on a more mature image and her agency as an artist too. As Kylie would soon break away from SAW and begin to exert her influence on every aspect of her sound and presentation.

Confide In Me

Striking out on her own, the boldness of ‘Confide In Me‘ with lavish Bond-theme production, punctuated percussion and rich vocals was fitting for the era. Directed by Paul Boyd California in the summer of 1994; it artfully splices together six different videos of Minogue in a commercial to help the audience confide their problems to each character. Arresting and visually colourful Kylie’s “in command” performance and pop art iconography is playful and delivered with a wink.

Jude Rogers wrote of Kylie, in the New Statesman in 2014 that “Minogue’s sexuality is often presented in layers of camp; it has a context in reality rather than a sense of distant, dead-eyed objectification. But her move towards becoming a gay icon has had an odd consequence – the primary fan base for this beautiful, sexy woman is one that doesn’t want to have sex with her.”

Visually its also a nod to other female artists of the era Bjork and Shirley Manson and ever so slightly camp and just perfectly fits the song’s knowing melodrama hand in glove.

Where The Wild Roses Grow

A 1995 union between Kylie in her independent phase and Aussie rock royalty in Nick Cave further cemented Kylie’s move towards acceptance by the alternative world. This sepia tinged video for this elegant and haunting murder duet was commissioned by Emma Davies for Mute Records, shot by director Rocky Schenck and produced by Nick Verden, it places Kylie very much in character. with a slightly darker almost auburn hair colour and pale skin than her trademark blonde as Eliza Day, having apparently been murdered by Nick Cave’s character with a rock. We see her in the ghost-like form in a river in a still pose that mirrors Millais’ painting scene from Ophelia. The literary heavy references and romantic tragedy of the video is complete when Cave’s character puts a rose in Kylie’s mouth and closes her eyelids.

‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’ was written very much with Kylie in mind. I’d wanted to write a song for Kylie for many years. I had a quiet obsession with her for about six years. I wrote several songs for her, none of which I felt was appropriate to give her. It was only when I wrote this song, which is a dialogue between a killer and his victim, that I thought finally I’d written the right song for Kylie to sing. I sent the song to her and she replied the next day.”

— Nick Cave, quoted in Molly Meldrum presents 50 Years of Rock in Australia (2007)

Did It Again

Did it Again’ lifted from the ill-fated Impossible Princess album that was unfortunetly released just after the death of Princess Diana. Kylie’s vocal and performance bursts with attitude amidst a chugging track informed of a Britpop era of Shirley Manson and and the Spice Girls. A knowing intertextual video where four iconic Kylie images in a line up, wrestle with each other, quite literally. A nod to where she’s been and where she’s going this video she plays with notion of Kylie the icon and her past, it mirrored Kylie’s current struggle for identity and agency as she was in a place between former pop icon and independent label artist.

Slow

The first release from Body Language, ‘Slow’ was a video that framed Kylie in an electric blue dress in a different context. Filmed in Madrid around a swimming pool amongst the holiday makers, the focus is on Kylie’s simple and writhing movements surrounded by other formation dancers in orange and brown colours, whose rhythmic gymnastic-like poses, are set within the confines of the towels. It’s hypnotic and suggestive and lends the focus to Kylie throughout. This effective format and magnetic performance match the subtlety of the pulsing song: “check my body language” indeed.

Can’t Get You Out of My Head

Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ is another of Kylie’s best videos, to go with one of her best songs. Written by Cathy Dennis is an addictive cut that has passing resemblance to New Order‘s ‘Blue Monday’ but given the Kylie twist. It comes with a fantastic hyper-real visual directed by Dawn Shadforth that takes in a car ride through a CGI city, as Kylie called it “a surreal world, a world that you recognise but you’ve just never seen it” , and a series of interpretive dances choreographed by Rooney. This movement and futuristic styling nods to the robocop techno of Daft Punk, Kylie’s memorable white flowing dress is another star. Led by Kylie who is clearly “in charge” of the formation, dancers work in rhythmic time along with the song’s thumping beat and the insidious delights of its earworm “la la la la la “, harmonies accentuated by Kylie’s red lipstick that makes her singing pop out of the screen. It means this wheels within wheels video is a memorable feast for the eyes that is indelibly burned into the mind as much as the song.

As Freaky Triggers Tom Ewing said of this excellent video: “Michel Gondry’s video for “Around The World” took the ‘dance’ in ‘dance music’ and smuggled ‘interpretive’ in, turning the abstraction of techno into figurative delight. The clockwork busywork of its costumed performers found a beauty in routine and an odd joy in loops. “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” is that song’s cousin, its surreal phalanxes of dancers making Daft Punk’s bewildering abstract representational. Now the loops are about something – the unceasing lock-groove of obsession. Now the dance revolves around someone – impossible princess Kylie. But the loops and the dance are still beautiful – charming and soothing.”

Come Into My World

In the latter period of her career, Kylie’s videos became events. Michel Gondry’s innovative visual for ‘Come Into My World” is one of her best. With a circular visual of intertwining Kylie’s and set pieces, placing her on a high street, it was a return to her “everyday” look of her girl next door early years with Kylie shopping in casual clothes jeans and a pink top, the looping Groundhog Day visuals where multiple versions of herself circle a shopping block are like loop of time. Visually striking, it fits the song’s fluttering chorus lines, and illuminating soundscapes wonderfully. It’s one of her best videos.

Of Being Boring blog notes how the visual sticks in the head: “When I hear the single, Come Into My World,” not only do I conjure Michel Gondry’s lovely video that finds Kylie circling the same few city blocks, perpetually stumbling upon a multitude of other selves, who all seems to absent-mindedly drop their purses as they exit the dry cleaners (but, don’t worry, prior Kylie always retrieves the former’s goods), I also see RoboKylie being brought to life upon the stage of her 2002 Fever tour and Showgirl Tour’s torch song Kylie, taking it down a notch, while the glittering crescent moon on which she’s perched is lifted “up, up, high up on your love.”

Chocolate

The sumptuous music video for ‘Chocolate’ saw Kylie team again with director Shadforth and choreographer Rooney, who had previously successfully helmed the ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ visual. While some Kylie videos play with the male gaze, the classy video for ‘Chocolate’ embodies the female gaze. Kylie is dressed in a flowing red dress, leading a dance troupe of a dozen women with Gaelic sashays perhaps informed by her then-boyfriend Olivier Martinez, a French actor.

A stylish homage to the glamor of musicals produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The visual flourishes including a wonderful section where, with aid of visual trickery, the dancers appear in Kylie’s hat are a treat for the eyes. There’s also a 40-second long ballet routine for which Kylie was coached by Rooney for four days. Kylie felt “lucky” to be able to incorporate a ballet routine noting it was “a lot different” from the rest of her repertoire. It paid off with ‘Chocolate’ being one of her most decorated.

All the Lovers

A survivor and national sweetheart, everyone breathed a sigh of relief following Kylie’s recovery from breast cancer, ‘All the Lovers’ was lifted from her comeback, tenth studio album X in 2007. A gay icon many identified with, her relationship melodrama and struggle for agency and identity as a young woman growing up in the spotlight mirrored the struggles of coming out. ‘All The Lovers’ by directed by Joseph Kahn, known for his work with Britney Spears on videos like ‘Toxic‘ and ‘Womanizer’. Played directly into that feeling, embracing the celebration of love in all its forms. Kylie said it was a “homage” to her large army of LGBTQI+ fans, Minogue wanted the video to express “what I’m about and what I love”.

On the BBC article, artist Tom Aspaul points out that Kylie’s bond with her fans is deep. “I guess for me as a gay person of a certain generation, there’s a lot of leftover sadness and bitterness from my youth, and Kylie was always an antidote to that,”

Filmed in downtown Los Angeles in 2010, it was a virtual re-imagining of the installations of American photographer Spencer Tunick, known for organising large-scale nude shoots. Depicting scenes of same-sex kissing, when Kahn submitted his cut of the video to Parlophone, someone at the label wanted it to be re-edited; however, at Kylie’s request, the original director’s cut was released. Visually impressive as a tower of fleshy bodies is formed, it’s daring and fits the song’s message perfectly, it’s one of her best latter videos.

Say Something

Released in the depths of 2020 lockdown, Kylie offered a ray of light from her disco ball with the glittering and kaleidoscopic video for ‘Say Something’, her comeback single. In the Sophie Muller–directed visual, she dances in an array of glittery outfits daubed with a glistening twinkle, delivered with the camp and glam star quality, of an icon, literally riding in on a unicorn. This marked her return to the dancefloor for Disco. Pure escapism.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.