To coincide with the release of Fever, Kylie Minogue — gay icon, international superstar, and owner of more than 30 top-20 hits in Britain — shot an underwear ad that ran in theaters across the United Kingdom.
In the minute-and-a-half spot, she sports a lacy bra and panties, climbs onto a mechanical bull, and rides the bull in slow motion for nearly 40 seconds. When she dismounts she turns to the camera and asks the men in the audience if they have an erection.
Like Britney or Madonna, it is hardly worth separating Kylie from her image. She asks her listeners and fans to accept her as a pop princess who does not demand to be taken seriously — she never sings about “still being on top” in 10 years, unlike ‘NSync or the Artist Formerly Called Popular, Puff Daddy.
And except for the U.S. market, she has succeeded. She has sold something close to 32 million albums worldwide, a figure that puts her below Madonna and Whitney Houston but above, for example, Ace of Base.
With Fever, the Australian pop star, or at least her producers, have created an album of perfectly crafted, utterly repetitive dance pop music. In the aging star’s struggle to stay popular, she has evidently decided to produce music designed solely for Europe’s discos.
The only shame is that her ludicrous music videos (starring, variously, Kylie’s bottom, Kylie’s legs or Kylie’s breasts) are not available in America.
Fever is a catchier, better Britney Spears record, mercifully free of maudlin ballads, but heavy on slick production to mask the star’s lack of vocal talent.
Depending on your mood the album can be either frustrating — with repetitive, occasionally even droning beats — or clean and memorable, something like a Greatest Hits of the ’70s compilation. The album blends disco style with Daft Punk’s futurism.
But Kylie’s brand of electronica is not nearly as self-concious as Daft Punk’s. When Kylie dances next to girls in robot suits in her video for “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” she completely embraces the concept’s idiocy, without any niggling sheepishness.
“Can’t Get You Out of My Head” — which has gotten plenty of top-40 radio play over the last month, and has risen to number 12 on Billboard’s single chart — is a fair example of Kylie’s more or less admirable disinterest in making meaningful music. Its “la la la” chorus and throwaway lyrics hover between irritating and infatuating.
Better, and far less repetitive, are the simmering openings to “More More More” and “Burning Up,” in which Kylie abandons singing altogether to breathe sweet nothings into the microphone, like a multimillionaire phone sex operator.
As irresponsibly awful as her lyrics may be — “Give it up, give it up/ I just can’t give it up/ More, more, more/ My, oh my/ This love divine is taking me somewhere new/ Just slide, slide, slide/ And glide, glide, glide” — and as lazily repetitive as the beat may be, it’s a treat for what it is.