How Kylie Minogue Became Part of Pop’s Pantheon With Aphrodite

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“Dance, it’s all I wanna do, so won’t you dance?” Kylie Minogue asks at the start of “All the Lovers,” opening her 11th studio album, Aphrodite. Taking her cue from the goddess of love, the Australian pop star began this decade with a 12-track celebration of dance and romance that became one of the finest moments of her career. Aphrodite was a commercial hit, debuting at the top spot on the British charts and becoming her second highest charting album in the U.S, and spawned the successful Aphrodite: Les Folies/Aphrodite Live tour.

In 2001, Minogue kickstarted the sound of the ’00s with “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” A rousing piece of synthpop that hints at an ’80s influence, it reflected what was going on in indie electronic music at the turn of the century (Ladytron and Miss Kittin and the Hacker come to mind), but became a global phenomenon. At the Brit Awards the following year, she performed “Can’t Get Blue Monday Out of My Head,” bringing together her hit with the New Order classic and putting mashups, still an underground trend at the time, on a much more visible stage. With “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” the accompanying video and the “Blue Monday” mashup, Minogue created a mood board for the first decade of the new century that both established and rising pop artists (Gwen Stefani, Madonna, Rihanna, Lady Gaga) would follow.

Minogue is well-known as a pop artist who is unafraid to experiment (as on the 1997 album Impossible Princess), but her skill as a tastemaker is woefully understated. With the release of Aphrodite in 2010, she played up on what was influential about her work in the ’00s while subtly foreshadowing what would become the next-big-thing in first half of this decade.

Aphrodite was a creatively successful album, its impact more apparent now at the end of the decade. It’s a stylistically eclectic collection of songs. Tunes like “Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)” and “Closer” pump the disco vibes with which Minogue has long excelled. “Cupid Boy,” a standout on the album, plays up the New Order-influenced indie dance groove that she helped bring to mainstream popularity nearly a decade earlier. “Better Than Today” gives a little taste of the country-dance style she would delve into on her 2018 album, Golden. Aphrodite pits Minogue as more than a pop goddess capable of inspiring love on the dance floor. Here, we see the full extent of her power, from the influence she had on pop music in the first decade of the 21st century and how that would continue in the second.

In an unusual move for Minogue, she enlisted an executive producer to oversee the direction of the album as a whole. As a producer and remixer, Stuart Price was integral to the sound of dance music in the ’00s. His remixes of artists ranging from The Killers to Royksopp to Gwen Stefani, released under various names, permeated nightclubs. Moreover, he was a producer for Madonna’s landmark 2005 album, Confessions on a Dance Floor. Minogue and Price hadn’t worked together before – in an interview, Minogue mentions that they connected via mutual pal, Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters – but their aural aesthetics were strikingly similar. In fact, back in the late ’90s, Price (under his Les Rythmes Digitales moniker) remixed Bis’ club hit “Eurodisco” with a Depeche Mode vibe that was a precursor for the synthpop revival Minogue brought to the mainstream with “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.”

Under Price’s watch, a slew of collaborators brought Aphrodite to light. They included some names recognizable to indie music fans of the time. Shears (who previously worked with Minogue on the 2004 song “I Believe in You) co-wrote “Too Much.” Tim Rice-Oxley of Keane helped pen “Everything Is Beautiful.” Richard X, who made a name for himself during the initial mashup craze and went on to work with artists like Annie and M.I.A., was a writer on “Can’t Beat the Feeling.”

Aphrodite also benefited from the work of a few up-and-comers who would see their own careers blossom in the following years. Calvin Harris, who co-wrote “Too Much” with Minogue and Shears and produced the track, was a rising star who had collaborated with Minogue on her 2007 album X. However, it would be another year before his collaboration with Rihanna, “We Found Love” became a monumental hit. He would go on to spend more than half of this decade as the world’s highest paid DJ. Meanwhile, “Cupid Boy” was co-written and co-produced by Sebastian Ingrosso, who was right on the cusp of superstardom with his pals in Swedish House Mafia. Sisters Miriam and Olivia Nervo (you might know them best by just their last name) co-wrote “Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love).” They were already acclaimed songwriters, but as this decade progressed, they became known for their own dance hits and DJ sets.

In some respects, Aphrodite was an incubator for the artists who would go on to mold the sound of dance music in this decade. But, it also foreshadowed what Minogue would do in her own career. In 2015, she appeared on Nervo’s debut album, Collateral, alongside Shears and Nile Rodgers on the song “The Other Boys.” In 2018, she merged country and dance music on Golden. At the time of that album’s release, she told Billboard how Aphrodite played a role in the development of the songs, thanks to a “Dolly Parton litmus test” that she and Price had developed. In the summer of 2019, she played the Legends spot at Glastonbury. BBC reported that her set drew the highest viewership in the festival’s broadcast history. When this decade started, Minogue cast herself as part of the Greek pantheon but, by its end, she became part of the pop pantheon.

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