2002 marks the year where Kylie Minogue became of interest to me---and where I never looked back on the face of exported Pop. Living in the States, the 'Australian Madonna' was some sort of mystical overseas darling, and at the time when "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" imploded on the airwaves with all of it's "la-la-la's" in tow, Kylie became quite relevant again. To those unaware, she looked as if she was some fresh-out-the-box Pop star, when, at the time, she had been in the game for close to fifteen years. The last time most of Stateside had been aware of her was (sadly) with her Little Eva redux of "Locomotion"(...you must recall her being on The Arsenio Hall Show...), and at that time, in the late 80's, Tiffany and Debbie Gibson were ruling the Pop princess playhouse---who needed yet another perky occupant on the scene? So no room was made at the table for Kylie in the US of A, even though she managed to have longevity way past her so-called 'contemporaries'.
Though Fever originally was released in 2001, the US didn't get their hands on it till 2002---which happens to be ten years ago this year (feel old). Held tightly in it's hints of 70's disco of the most lush kind, Fever dispels the myth of Pop music being some moronic, throwaway genre. In fact, it's an album that even the snobs of the genre can thoroughly enjoy as if there is one person to be truly loving and spot-on on her execution of pop-ly delights it is Miss Kylie Minogue.
To compare Fever to other Kylie creations is no small feat, as the rest of her catalog isn't shabby in the least. Even though I'm partial to her 1994 self-title set in all of it's rich R&B-ness, Fever might be her best release overall in style, in spirit, and as she has a dream team of producers/writers (Cathy Dennis, Julian Gallagher, Richard Stannard, Steve Anderson) and an extremely consistent tracklisting that is even accessible for the most Minogue phobic. To reiterate, it's an album that anyone can throw on and not feel like they are counting Pop calories, going over their limit of sugary sound sweetness.
To me, it's a thousand times better than the much lauded and campy ABBA influenced, Light Years from 2000, and chugs along in it's modern Disco meets Electronica flair a bit tighter than say 2004's urban ambition, Body Language. It's even safe to say that Fever doesn't really sound dated, compared to Kylie's early 90's material, even with it's obviously gives nods to the dames of the mirrored ball such as Donna Summer, Andrea True Connection, France Joli, and her 'Bossness' Diana Ross. With strappy gold heels on and a wink, Fever gives some stylish and sexy results for the 21st Century disco diva.
The song that really cements everything for this album is the essential, "Love At First Sight". It was love at first listen too, as I adored it's pinch of Funk mixed in with chugging Euro-dance grooves. Years later it still gets me up out of my seat, and has chorus that could burn a hole in the floor. Packing heat the song does and to me one of the finest pop songs in the last 20 years.
Not the strongest of the four singles released, The ping-pong principality of "In Your Eyes" is hypnotic nonetheless. Once you gets sucked into it's wormhole of House and Trance elements, you're a goner.
Fever's final single, "Come Into My World" followed in aural infection and it's probably the moodiest dance record on board. It's best remembered for me as the music video where a 'multiplicity' incident occurred with multiple Kylie's walking around a suburb in Paris, France and picking up dry cleaning---sounds like a bore, but damn is it riveting. It mesmerized me when it gained popular viewing on MTV's TRL at the time of it's release, and was the seal for me to get my hands on the full effort. Even when I listen to it now I tend to always have the music video rolling in my head.
The Cathy Dennis and Rob Davis penned, "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" is of course the 'big enchilada' single. While it gave Dennis a revival in the pop-o-sphere (least we forget the 1990's dance essential, Move To This...) it's bewitching this side of the narcotic pulses of Summer's "I Feel Love"---those "la-la-la's" do kind of wear on you. Still, I'm not surprised of it's weight at giving Kylie her Stateside comeback, because there are some interesting dips in her voice as she grinds into the verses that sorta of show inspiration from Janet Jackson, no less.
Still this album has a number of supporting acts that make it a meaty full feature. Opener "More More More" sets the tone as it catapults and urges you into the grooves that await you. "Dancefloor" swirls around in it's Disco fever, while "Love Affair" entrances with it's demanding club beats. The title track has always been fun for me as it turns up the sex kitten charms as it purrs rather R&B-esque. "Give It To Me" follows and has a Britney Spears urgency to it as it drives into a hard talk-dirty-to-me Pop lane.
Things get a bit arty when 'ballads' such as the gorgeous, "Fragile" and "Your Love" in it's lush guitars and synth spaces give the set some depth, and though Kylie doesn't have the balladeer chops, she can effectively coo and flirt her way through them and make for some really sensual moments that could melt the paint off walls. Coming in as a quasi-encore, "Burning Up" (seen here with a "Vogue" inter-play during the 2006 Showgirl: The Greatest Hits concert) has an oddball arrangement that is very appealing and really vamps things up, and even though the show has ended when the last synth bubbles, this song provokes you to press the repeat button and start the experience all over again.
What is also interesting to note about this project is that Michael Jackson had written a few tracks for this set ("Time Bomb" and "I'll Try Anything Once"), but unfortunately weren't used. Who knows what Fever would have sounded with some King of Pop grit sprinkled in, then again, if you listen just a bit closely, some of Jackson's Off The Wall elements can be heard in snatches---that is if you listen. So technically his vibe is there in spirit.
As of recent, Kylie has embarked on her K25: Anti Tour as she's been prepping and celebrating a 25-year-anniversary in the singing biz. In the midst of all of this and Fever's 10th anniversary, I have to marvel at how Minogue has been consistent with her music throughout her career, as she has never really put out material that can be deemed as lackadaisical in effort, nor is never one to be just plain dull. Like I said, she has affection for what she does, something not a lot of Pop singers express, and she sticks to her guns, and knows what hands to play when she's up at the game table---and all of that is done here. With a shelf-life and a sound that has massively evolved over the years, Fever set the pace for what was to come for Pop music in a decades time, and even still manages to not sound dated in the slightest.
Like those with limited vocal range or dubbed as being just "pop fodder", Kylie Minogue easily can be dismissed, and I've heard my fair share of criticisms in concern to her (someone told me she sounds like a pubescent boy band member---uh, can we say 'unfriended'?). Yet, coming back to Kylie's works, like Fever, time and time again resembles the reason why I can watch The Cutting Edge in a loop, or swoon and forget that so-called diet over bubbling macaroni and cheese---it's just a comfort and something that will never fail me each and every time I experience it. Had a horrible, no good, very bad day? Put on Kylie Minogue, put on Fever and I'm back to a simpler, less hectic time in 2002---and I'm just dancing away on Easy Street. Not a lot of Pop albums can do that, but this one sure as heck does.