X (Kylie Minogue album)
|Studio album by Kylie Minogue|
|Released||21 November 2007|
|Recorded||May 2006 – August 2007;
(Los Angeles, United States)
EMI Publishing Studios, Olympic Studios, Sleeper Studios, Stanley House Studios
Jonas Jeberg Studio
|Genre||Dance-pop, electropop, synthpop, pop rock|
|Kylie Minogue chronology|
|Singles from X|
X is the tenth studio album by Australian recording artist Kylie Minogue. It is her first release since the greatest hits compilation Ultimate Kylie (2004), and her first studio album since Body Language (2003). X was preceded by lead single "2 Hearts" and released worldwide in November 2007. The American release of X took place in April 2008, preceded by the single "All I See". The final single from the album was "The One", released in Australia on 28 July 2008.
Work on the album began following Minogue's gradual recovery from breast cancer and subsequent radiotherapy treatment. Her cancer, which was diagnosed in May 2005, resulted in the postponement of Showgirl: The Greatest Hits Tour tour midway through its run. Minogue resumed the tour in late 2006, in the midst of recording X, and was completed later in the following year.
In addition to generally positive critical reception, X debuted at number one in Australia and at number four in the United Kingdom. The album was nominated for a BRIT Award for International Album, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Electronic/Dance Album, making it Minogue's fifth Grammy Award nomination. According to The Times, the album had sold one million copies worldwide as of December 2008.
Background and writing
While recovering in Melbourne, Minogue began writing lyrics towards the end of her cancer treatment in mid-2006, having not worked on any music for the previous year. Inspired by thinking about the things Minogue wanted to do once her recovery was complete and of her doubts about returning to her career; she wrote lyrics which would later form the basis of "Cosmic" and "No More Rain". A visit to Taprobane also produced a song which Minogue penned, titled "Taprobane (Extraordinary Day)".
Due to the recovery time following her cancer, X was the first album Minogue had consciously prepared for the recording of, having previously been engaged for much of her career in an endless cycle of record, release and tour. She had worried about not having sung in some time and whether or not she could perform so soon after her cancer treatment. Minogue started work on the project in May 2006, only breaking for the resumption of the Showgirl tour at the end of the year. Once the tour was finished, she returned to the studio to complete the album, feeling that completing it was a personal goal she had set.
Initial sessions in New York with Jake Shears and Babydaddy of Scissor Sisters would result in "White Diamond" and "Singing in My Sleep" before Minogue settled down with her longstanding co-writers Biffco (Richard Stannard, Julian Peake and Paul Harris) in Brighton to work on a number of tracks. This collaboration proved very productive, with "Stars", "Fall for You", "Everlasting Love" (which she later sang on tour, with the title "Ruffle My Feathers") and "I Don't Know What It Is" being recorded. During the Biffco sessions, Scottish musician Calvin Harris worked with the team on "In My Arms", while Stannard brought in a track he had sourced titled "The One", which he co-produced with Russell Small and James Wiltshire of Freemasons. Stannard also worked with Stuart Crichton on "Tell It Like It Is", Dave Morgan ("Simple Boy"), Rob Davis ("One to One"), Martin Harrington, Ash Howes and Hannah Robinson ("Give Up to Love").
Once the sessions for the album had got underway, Parlophone's A&R team sent out writing and production briefs to a large number of artists, producers and songwriters, some of them well regarded, some up-and-coming and some unknown, requesting demo submissions for Minogue and her team to hear. Minogue continued to work with a growing number of artists on her new material. Harris returned to the project with "Heart Beat Rock", sessions with Scottish musician Mylo resulted in "I'm in the Mood for Love" and "Spell of Desire" while underground London group Kish Mauve produced two of their own songs for Minogue, "2 Hearts" and "Lose Control". Boy George and Amanda Ghost submitted a track called "I'm Ready", with further submissions coming from Davis, Robinson ("So Safe"), Henrik Korpi ("Never Be Lonely"), Siobhan Fahey, Goldfrapp, Sneaky Sound System, Hot Chip and Alan Braxe.
Audio sample of Minogue's hit "In My Arms". The Calvin Harris-produced electropop track was released as the album's second single in 2008.
The song "Speakerphone" was initially rejected by the label, but was later accepted by it. Although it was not released as a single, it did manage to chart in Canada.
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Minogue's material took a harder electronic approach with some of her newer collaborators. Danish producers Cutfather and Jonas Jeberg forwarded a demo of "Like a Drug" to Parlophone, which was rejected at first but accepted on second try. Minogue recorded the track in London, and later she recorded "All I See" (written by EMI songwriter Edwin "Lil' Eddie" Serrano), "Down Down" and "Rippin' Up the Disco" with them. Sessions in Stockholm with songwriter Karen Poole and Swedish producers Bloodshy & Avant resulted in tracks "Speakerphone", "Cherry Bomb" and "Nu-di-ty". Minogue brought out her lyric book and attempted to work on "No More Rain" with them, but their production-heavy style did not work well with the song.
Minogue requested setting up a studio in Ibiza with previous writing partner Karen Poole, and newcomer to the fold Greg Kurstin, an American multi-instrumentalist musician and producer. Once there they wrote "Wow", "King or Queen", "Deepest Blue", "Carried Away", "Do It Again" and "Magnetic Electric". Minogue gave "No More Rain" to Kurstin to complete a new production on the song. Poole also worked on a track with Soul Mechanics entitled "My Love Is Real".
A few more tracks completed rounded off the album's sessions. Minogue recorded a cover of Roxy Music's 1975 song "Love Is the Drug" with Harris, and completed "Cosmic" with producer Eg White. Minogue encountered songwriter Guy Chambers at a function, who offered her a song he had written over the previous four years and built around a sample of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot's "Bonnie and Clyde". Cathy Dennis joined Minogue in furthering the track, which became "Sensitized". She had also written a number of songs for Minogue's album, including one co-written with producer Mark Ronson entitled "Boys Boys Boys". Minogue also completed a number of tracks with her longtime writing partner Steve Anderson of Brothers in Rhythm; those tracks included "Hush Hush", "Flower" and "That's Why They Write Love Songs".
Mylo was also recruited to record several of the tracks for the album with Minogue. After recording tracks in the studio, he was told "they were being sent off to be mixed and would be on the final record". He was shocked when the final product was released without any of his tracks included. "To be honest, I think the album is a complete mess, except for the track she blatantly stole [from Kish Mauve], '2 Hearts'", he told BBC Radio 1. "I plan to keep up my public beef with Kylie for as long as possible."
It was also reported that the Pet Shop Boys were invited to write a handful of tracks for Minogue. After having submitted them, they were subsequently ignored and the duo would go on to record several of the songs for their own 2009 album Yes: "We never heard anything back", explained Neil Tennant. "I think every songwriter in London wrote songs for Kylie's last album [...] When we were on tour, we had two male backing singers and both had submitted songs for Kylie's album as well. They never heard anything either." Chris Lowe, the other half of the duo, added, "We won't be doing it again."
During the time between the release of X to the present a large number of songs from the album sessions leaked to the Internet, these being "Taprobane", "Come Down", "My Love Is Real", "Fall for You", "Spell of Desire", "Love Is the Drug", "Lose Control", "In the Mood for Love", "Ruffle My Feathers" and "White Diamond".
The title of the album, X, is a reference to the fact that this is Minogue's tenth studio album, with X being the Roman numeral for the number 10. It was later stated in an interview on her official website that the original title of the album was Magnetic Electric, also the title of a bonus track, but because during the production period, fans on the forums had been referring to it as "Album X", X seemed to Minogue the obvious name for the album.
Release and promotion
The release of X was announced on 21 September 2007. To promote the release of the album, Minogue performed on an exclusive show on ITV1 called The Kylie Show, featuring six songs from the new album, and four of her previous hits. It aired on 10 November 2007. Minogue also joined Jo Whiley on Radio 1 for a special show promoting the new album called Kylie and Whiley during which they recreated a scene from Neighbours. In addition, Kylie performed several songs in various European TV shows.
On 28 November 2007, Minogue announced she would promote X with a tour, to be called KylieX2008.
To promote the album, Minogue appeared on 14 January 2008 on the Australian morning program Sunrise. To promote the lead single and the album in the United States, Minogue appeared on several shows. On 31 March, she gave an interview on the Today Show with Matt Lauer. Minogue performed "All I See" and "Can't Get You out of My Head" live on the results show 1 April 2008 of the American program Dancing with the Stars. She also performed on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. She also appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and performed "All I See" on 7 April 2008 and appeared at the Idol Gives Back special on the seventh season of American Idol the following day, along with some of the biggest names in music, such as Gloria Estefan, Celine Dion, Bono, Annie Lennox, Maroon 5, Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell and many more. This was Minogue's final appearance in the United States before heading back to England to prepare for the tour, which began on 6 May 2008 in Paris.
A major problem with the album's promotion was Minogue's management selecting poor choices of singles. Numerous sources, including Perez Hilton, responded very positively to the track "Speakerphone", produced by Bloodshy & Avant. Another fan of that song is American singer Madonna who included the track on her Celebrity playlist for iTunes in 2008, stating that she thought that "Speakerphone" was the best song on the album. On the season 2 premiere episode of America's Best Dance Crew, which aired on 19 June, Fanny Pak used "Speakerphone" in the Crew Choice Challenge. The song was commended for being overly modern and progressive, especially for an American audience who responded to "Can't Get You Out of My Head".
Others responded that "Wow" or "Like a Drug" would have been a suitable first single for the album in the United States. Instead, with the mentality that the only substantial way to boost album sales in North America would be to appeal to an urban market (similarly to Minogue's ninth studio album, Body Language), "All I See" was released as that region's lead single and failed on the mainstream charts, despite the single version featuring American rapper Mims.
Another problem with the album's American promotion involved Minogue's low-public profile in comparison with the rest of the world. In the past, she had rarely appeared in the public eye in the region except for heavy airplay of "Can't Get You Out of My Head" and "The Locomotion", seldom appearing on general music channels such as MTV and VH1 and never having a tour on the continent of North America. In Europe, additional problems arose in the release of "2 Hearts" as the song was a drastic jump from Minogue's other work (especially on X) and clearly duplicated from the Kish Mauve version. The release of the final single, "The One" was a neglected release as it featured only a digital download single along with a promotional music video. The single version was remixed with a more club feel by the Freemasons.
Shortly after this, Minogue expressed disappointment with the album to The Sun, but insisted that she was pleased with the singles "In My Arms" and "2 Hearts". "In retrospect we could definitely have bettered it, I'll say that straight up", she admitted. "Given the time we had, it is what it is. 'Wow', 'In My Arms', 'The One' and '2 Hearts' are crackers. They go off like a frog in a sock."
On 15 December 2007, a mashup single called "X Allmixedup" was released on iTunes, containing four songs from X: "2 Hearts", "The One", "In My Arms" and "Like a Drug", with the latter being the only track from these four that did not get a release as a standalone single. The single was only released in Australia and New Zealand for the promotion of the KylieX2008 tour.
|The New York Times||mixed|
|The Village Voice||favourable|
X received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 65, based on 24 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews". Chris Long of BBC Music praised it as "an album packed with vitality and, as always with Kylie's releases, oodles of fun", noting that the "current trend for electro is one that was always going to suit Kylie and it's one that she's used right through X." James Hunter of The Village Voice claimed that "it's not the production, as copiously sexy as it is, that makes [the album] great: It's that Kylie has an ear for fantastic pop-rock tunes restyled for 2008, and she approaches them not as merely amusing sonic glitter, but as totally vital music." Mark Sutherland wrote for Billboard that "[t]he hip producers [...] and heavy-hitting songwriters [...] are all present and correct, but they never overshadow Minogue's perky/saucy pop/dance formula", dubbing the album a "truly welcome return". Barry Walters of Spin expressed that "more often than not, X's hooks, tunes, and Minogue's bubblegum-perfect hum achieve candy-coated ecstasy." In a review for The New York Times, Kelefa Sanneh commented that "though X doesn't raise Ms. Minogue's own high standards, it does sometimes meet them", referring to "Speakerphone" as "a meta-dance song, intoxicated with itself".
Sharon O'Connell of Yahoo! Music described the album as a "savvy, shiny, slyly sophisticated set of thoroughly modern dance floor exercises, it's the record we hoped Girls Aloud might make. There are no thrilling creative transgressions and Kylie won't win a Pulitzer for her prose, but as pop productions go, it's a peach." The Guardian's Alexis Petridis complimented "No More Rain" for its "cheery dynamics pinched from Madonna's 'Ray of Light', and lyrics about getting a second chance", but felt that "a lot of the songs don't appear to be about anything much", adding that "X is business as usual for a Kylie Minogue album: a handful of great tracks surrounded by stuff that's so obviously filler you could inject it into cavity walls and save up to 33% on your energy bills." Similarly, The Observer critic Peter Robinson viewed X as "merely a slightly above average collection of tracks. A typical Kylie album, in other words." He continued, "Listening to upbeat but flimsy tracks such as 'Wow' and 'Sensitised', it would be easy to accuse Kylie's X of being lazy but the reverse is more true: this is an album so over-thought and so painstakingly plotted that during its construction any sense of perspective seems to have been lost." Jax Spike of About.com rated the album four out of five stars, describing it as "a glorious fusion of glam electronica and dance [that] definitely shines as a great example of electropop fusion", while noting that "[e]ven though some of the ballads on X drag the album down at times, the album as a whole marks a great comeback for Kylie and definitely moves forward from what she did with Light Years and Fever."
Allmusic's Chris True gave X three-and-a-half out of five stars, stating that while some of the album is "very very good", most of it "lacks—when all presented as a whole—what the last few [Minogue] collections really had: consistency." Dave Hughes of Slant Magazine argued, "One of the most contemporary (and least pleasant) aspects of X is its scattershot production, which gives it the focus-grouped attention deficit disorder more typical of a Gwen Stefani record than one of Minogue's laser-honed disco-princess home runs." He criticised "Speakerphone" and "Nu-di-ty" as "phenomenally annoying", but cited "Wow" as the highlight of the album, calling it "a hyperactive juvenile disco track full of fun, big-budget whooshes and drops, something utterly disposable that she sells without shame." Tom Ewing of Pitchfork Media opined that "X can seem like a revision primer for Minogue fans who've ignored the past few years of chart pop—here's a bit of Gwen Stefani-style clockwork playground pop; here's some nu-Britney Spears cut-ups; here's some Sugababes sultriness. Here's electro-disco, cosmic disco, and just plain disco disco, plus nods to 1980s street dance and 00s r&b [...] As you'd expect, not all of these styles suit her." Evan Sawdey of PopMatters stated that Minogue is "on fire for the first half of X", but dismissed the second half as "a long stream of high-class filler" and "a laundry list of forgettable tunes". Michael Hubbard of musicOMH wrote that "X's 13 tracks do what Kylie songs always do—crank up a beat and get energetic around unchallenging lyrics about dancing, sexing and little else. Together they've made an expensive-sounding album pitched squarely at Kylie's existing audience base", but concluded that the album is "more filler than killer". Robert Christgau gave X a one-star honorable mention () and called it "[a]n especially happy birthday to the Aussie ex-ingenue, who just turned 40 and can still credibly sing, 'Boy, you got it got it, you got me feeling crazy 'bout my body'".
X debuted at number one on the ARIA Albums Chart with first-week sales of 16,000 copies, giving Minogue her third number-one album in her native Australia. The album remained in the top fifty for fourteen weeks, ultimately earning a Platinum certification from the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipments in excess of 70,000 copies. Additionally, it was the forty-ninth best-selling album in Australia for 2007. In New Zealand, however, it became Minogue's lowest-charting studio album to date, spending a sole week at number thirty-eight on the RIANZ Albums Chart.
X debuted number four on the UK Albums Chart, selling 82,370 copies in its first week. It spent twenty-eight consecutive weeks in the top 100, subsequently returning to the chart at number ninety-nine on 7 August 2008 for an additional week. The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) certified the album Platinum on 30 November 2007, having sold 463,056 copies in the United Kingdom as of July 2010. In the United States the album charted at number 139 on the Billboard 200 and at number four on the Top Electronic Albums chart, selling 6,000 units in its first week and 42,000 altogether. The album saw considerable charting success across continental Europe, reaching the top ten in Switzerland; the top twenty in Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, and Ireland; the top thirty in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden; and the top forty in Denmark and Italy.
"2 Hearts" was released globally as the lead single except in the US. The single was a hit, reaching number one in Australia and number four in the UK. "Wow" was released as the second single in the UK and Australia and the third in the rest of the world. While it was a modest hit in Australia reaching number eleven, it was a big hit in the UK reaching number five and selling around 180,000 copies. "In My Arms", the second global release and third UK and Australian release, was a solid hit across Europe, where it peaked in Romania and went top ten in the UK, Belgium, France, Germany and Switzerland. "All I See" was released as the lead US single and second Canadian single. It reached number eighty-one on the Canadian Hot 100 but failed to chart on the US Billboard Hot 100. It nevertheless peaked at number three on the Hot Dance Club Play chart. "The One" was released as a single in the UK, Europe and Australia. Although it was only released as a digital download single, it reached number thirty-six on the UK chart, making it a minor success. It was also released physically as a two-track promo.
Despite never having been released, "Speakerphone" managed to chart on the Canadian Hot 100 at number eighty-five based on high downloads from the album. It also gained small amounts of popularity in the US due to being playlisted by Madonna on iTunes and featured on America's Best Dance Crew. In August 2009, Minogue held a competition for fans to create a music video for "Speakerphone". The winner was an animation made by Hungarian animator Rudolf Pap. The video was shown at the Hollywood Bowl on 4 October before Minogue's concert. A version of "Sensitized" featuring French singer Christophe Willem served as a promotional single in Europe, but did not manage to chart on any major record charts.
Credits adapted from the liner notes of X.
|2.||"Like a Drug"||
|3.||"In My Arms"||
|4.||"Speakerphone"||Bloodshy and Avant||3:54|
|6.||"Heart Beat Rock"||
|8.||"No More Rain"||
|9.||"All I See"||
||Bloodshy and Avant||3:04|
|CD-ROM bonus track|
|14.||"Rippin' Up the Disco"||
|iTunes Australia and New Zealand bonus tracks|
|iTunes Europe bonus track|
|14.||"Heart Beat Rock" (Benny Blanco Remix featuring MC Spank Rock)||
|Japan bonus tracks|
|14.||"King or Queen"||
|15.||"I Don't Know What It is"||
|Latin America bonus tracks|
|14.||"In My Arms" (featuring Aleks Syntek)||
|15.||"In My Arms" (Spitzer Dub Remix)||
|16.||"Wow" (CSS Remix)||
||Bloodshy and Avant||4:17|
|19.||"Do It Again"||
|Taiwan bonus track|
|3.||"In My Arms" (featuring Jolin)||
|US bonus tracks|
|14.||"All I See" (featuring Mims)||
|15.||"Carried Away" (Amazon MP3 bonus track)||
- Special edition bonus DVD
- Xposed – Interview with Kylie
- Photo gallery
- White Diamond film trailer
- "2 Hearts" music video
- Access to online bonus track "Rippin' Up the Disco"
- USB edition bonus
- "2 Hearts" music video
- White Diamond film trailer
- Album artwork
- Web links
- Access to online bonus track "Rippin' Up the Disco"
Disc 2 – Remixes
Bonus tracks on disc 1
Credits for X adapted from liner notes.
|Japan||21 November 2007||EMI||CD, CD+DVD, digital download|
|Australia||23 November 2007||Mushroom|
|Ireland||Parlophone||CD, digital download|
|United Kingdom||26 November 2007||CD, CD+DVD, digital download|
|Canada||27 November 2007||EMI||CD|
|Sweden||28 November 2007||CD, CD+DVD, digital download|
|Brazil||20 February 2008||CD|
|United States||1 April 2008||CD, digital download|
|Australia||1 December 2008||Warner Music||2CD (Tour Edition)|
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