Kylie Minogue’s triumphant return to her pop roots on the Light Years album was less an exercise in throwback nostalgia than it was a result of that marvellous moment of maturity we all experience when we finally figure out our place in the world. “Musically, I won’t be foolish and go back to somewhere I’ve already been,” explained the Australian singer, then barely in her 30s, but 2000’s comeback album was a spectacular reinterpretation of her brand, capturing everything that had been good before but pointing her in a sexier, thoroughly modern direction.
Listen to ‘Light Years’ here.
“The Kylie record that everyone has been waiting for”
Before any of that, Kylie had to find a new record label, and partnering with Parlophone – then home to those other 80s pop survivors Pet Shop Boys – was an obvious choice. The brief for what became Light Years was laser focused; in a press release issued to announce Kylie’s signing, Parlophone stated: “We found that we have a shared idea of what the next record should be like. Kylie is raring to go and I’m sure we’ll get the Kylie record that everyone has been waiting for.”
Roaring out of the blocks in June 2000, the first taste of Kylie’s new album fulfilled exactly that promise, and immediately became one of her classic singles. Spinning Around may have had a complicated genesis – American Idol judge and former pop draw Paula Abdul had co-written the track for herself – but the demo was passed to Kylie, who was then searching for fresh material. Producer Mike Spencer coated the pop track in a smooth 70s-influenced nu-disco sheen and it topped the charts in both the UK and Kylie’s homeland – a feat she hadn’t managed in Great Britain since 1990’s Tears On My Pillow, and in Australia since 1994’s Confide In Me. Spinning Around’s iconic promo video, directed by Dawn Shadforth, featured Kylie in a pair of second-hand gold lamé hot pants, and it arguably did more to reset her appeal than even the song did. The girl next door had finally grown up, and those hot pants became so famous they later appeared at London’s Victoria And Albert Museum as a critical pop-cultural reference-point.