Following up the monster success of 2001’s Fever album was always going to be a challenge, but Kylie Minogue’s ninth studio album, Body Language, went for broke and pushed her sound in an edgier, electro-pop direction. Selling more than 1.5 million worldwide, the record generated a strong critical response, and in the years since its release, on 10 November 2003, it has come to be regarded as one of the most interesting and ultimately rewarding entries among the best Kylie Minogue albums – as proven by this track-by-track guide through each of Body Language’s songs.
The single that launched the Body Language album campaign, Slow splashed in at No.1 in the UK and Australia off the back of its iconic video, shot at a swimming pool used for diving in the 1992 Summer Olympics, held in Barcelona, Spain, and directed by Baillie Walsh. There’s a clear musical line between this track, claimed by Kylie in 2012 to be her favourite of her many songs, and the Tension album of 2023, with smouldering vocals framed by an icy production from co-songwriters Dan Carey and Emiliana Torrini. “It’s a simple song and yet it stays with you,” Kylie said at the time, and Slow’s provocative, sensual hypnotism certainly draws you in. For a song with such confident styling, it has proved remarkably adaptable – the reworking for 2012’s The Abbey Road Sessions recasts it as a jazz-tinged torch number.
The choppy, electroclash charm of Body Language’s second track moves the pace up a gear, but there’s a consistent sexual character to Still Standing’s lyrics (“You know you want it” gives you the idea). There are echoes of Prince and his masterful orchestrated funk in its presentation, which is perhaps no surprise given Kylie’s oft-referenced admiration for the late superstar (in the early 90s he worked on a track with her, titled Baby Doll, which remains unreleased).
Secret (Take You Home)
The 80s signalling refuses to let up, with Kylie attempting a light old-school rap. But while Secret (Take You Home) is decidedly early-2000s electro-pop in its production, there’s a crafty lift from Lisa Lisa And Cult Jam’s 1985 freestyle breakthrough, I Wonder If I Take You Home. On an album in which R&B and 80s references sit alongside Kylie’s more familiar pop froth, this song marks an emerging maturity in the singer’s ability to master new styles – something which had been in evidence in her post-PWL 90s but which gains firmer footing here.
A more straightforward pop song, albeit with a decent dose of funk coursing through its groove, Promises is perhaps the Body Language single that should have been. Producer and remixer Kurtis Mantronik, who had been part of 80s hip-hop/electro-funk pioneers Mantronix, adds a maverick edge to proceedings with some decidedly techno twists and sonic surprises. The staggering number of producers and writers on Body Language is the most on any of Kylie’s albums, and while there’s an obvious consistency in the record’s experimental influences, there’s also a clear intent to move further from the all-out pop of records such as Light Years and Fever.
The bass gets its moment in the spotlight on this midtempo club-friendly banger that was co-written by long-term collaborator Karen Poole, who had been in 90s hitmakers Alisha’s Attic with her sister, Shelly. It’s not the most immediate of cuts on Body Language, but there’s a tight vocal from Kylie, with an obvious pop-leaning melody nestling up against a tougher, more ambitious production intent.
Red Blooded Woman
The synth-pop of this hit single is sprinkled with sharp hip-hop nods to create one of the best Kylie Minogue songs of the era. Red Blooded Woman has a breathy urgency and a hook-heavy production from Johnny Douglas, who co-wrote the track with Karen Poole, and it peaked in the Top 5 both in the UK and Kylie’s homeland. Check out the cheeky reference to Dead Or Alive’s You Spin Me Round (Like A Record), which had been the first UK chart-topper for Kylie’s former mentors, Stock Aitken Waterman.
Though Kylie ditched a planned Ludacris rap on this cut, Chocolate was another step further from her pop roots, towards the most urban-oriented of her singles to date (the New Jack Swing of 1991’s The Word Is Out, perhaps, aside). Regardless, this smooth ballad is clearly Kylie, and, in a wider musical landscape of R&B-light pop then dominating the charts, it continued her run of UK Top 10 hits.
Kurtis Mantronik returns with a jittery electro production, and Obsession rides a hypnotic groove that would have been a strong candidate for a suite of remixes. You can really hear the Mantronix influences in this recording, and there’s a nifty vocal underlay – “Obsession is a dangerous state of mind” – that, once heard, is difficult to shift. This song gets better and better on repeated listens.
I Feel For You
A funk jam with tropical theatricality – who says Kylie can’t tackle a concept record? The intermittent 90s rave piano adds further impression that I Feel For You is the musical equivalent of going mad in the dressing-up box. A crazy moment, for sure, and one that remains naggingly catchy.
The languid charm of Someday features Scritti Politti frontman Green Gartside on the middle eight. It’s less Cupid & Psyche 85, more a throwback to the group’s earlier Songs To Remember, and a charming shuffler that would have proved effective in many eras across the “Princess Of Pop”’s lengthy career. Produced by Ash Thomas, under the name Baby Ash, this is a grand statement of Kylie’s experimental confidence and a definite highlight of Body Language.
The familiar pop influences of Richard Stannard, still working with Kylie to this day, offer a familiar break from the more out-there experimentation in evidence elsewhere on the album. Loving Days drips with mannered theatricality (and, perhaps, echoes of Madonna’s Frozen) and is possibly Body Language’s most obvious moment, but its rich melody and strong vocal also elevate it as an immediate high point in the album’s final stretch.
Cathy Dennis, co-writer of mega-hit Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, attempts to recreate the magic formula (with Chris Braide) on Body Language’s closing track. After Dark is a reserved shuffler that captures much of the magic of the album, which is largely bound up in its groove-focused intent as opposed to a brasher, more commercial call-to-arms.
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