“Love is love, it never ends…can we all be as one again?”
Kylie Minogue didn’t have to return to us this soon after the release of her 2018 record Golden and accompanying tour through 2019 – and she certainly didn’t have to come back in the middle of a pandemic. After all, even if our disco still needs her (arguably now more than ever before), it’s still closed until further notice.
But she believes in us, and in love, and she wants us all to be one again – and that is exactly the eerily prescient message of her wishful, gorgeous return, “Say Something,” the lead single from her forthcoming fifteenth studio album, Disco.
Golden, as we know, was Kylie taking a creative left turn to Nashville to do some soul searching, don some Dolly Parton drag and dabble in a little yee-yee, cowboy style fun. And even if it wasn’t everyone’s cup of whiskey, the era was still a clear source of joy and creative freedom for the well-established dancing diva.
But, as we should all know by now, you can’t keep a Minogue girl away from a disco ball for too long.
As she’s told us for a little under a year now, Kylie’s prepared something “Grown-Up Disco” for her forthcoming record…which is called, well, Disco.
“It’s pretty much a party. At this rate, it might be a kitchen disco…disco is within, let’s face it,” Kylie explained of the upcoming record on the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show.
“The theme for the album was disco, which took a little while to find what my interpretation of that is. There’s definitely a balance of fun and pure escapism, and then, which you’ll hear…that emotional element.”
“Say Something,” according to Kylie, was penned last year with longtime collaborator Biff Stannard, who’s worked with her for years, including the holy scripture itself, “Love at First Sight.”
“We wrote it last year. It’s like this gigantic song, and yet it’s very heartfelt at the same time. I think – when you see the video, which will be a week or two away – it’s like a galactic disco. I think it’s about all of our eternal quest for love, and that there’s something or someone out there that you can relate to.”
Despite potential early expectations based on the album title alone, the song isn’t exactly a four-to-the-floor dance floor banger, like a “Spinning Around,” a “Get Outta My Way,” or a “Timebomb.” As opposed to going for more modern dance-pop a la Kiss Me Once, there’s a sort of glam-rock, ’80s electronic kick to the production, recalling Queen‘s “Radio Ga Ga” and possibly something her Scissor Sisters pals would do, strutting somewhere more towards X territory and matching the vibe of the campy, if polarizing Disco album cover.
From the very first millisecond – that atmospheric, angelic “oh-whoa-WHOA-whoa-whoa” liftoff, as that guitar suddenly cuts in, followed by those ever-so-Kylie breathy moans – “Say Something” quickly establishes itself within more familiar Minogue sonic territory, recalling bits and pieces of “Better Than Today,” “2 Hearts,” “Like a Drug,” “All the Lovers” and “I Believe in You.”
“We’re a million miles apart in a thousand ways,” she declares from the start – a (likely incidental) “Million Miles” reference, and a fitting, socially distanced wink from behind a glittery mask.
The most striking thing about Kylie’s lead single, aside from an obvious return musically, is the lyricism. This is an all too appropriate anthem for The Current State of Things; every lyric a yearning for those halcyon days of yore when getting close wasn’t such a taboo concept. It’s also a wish for the future, at a time when the world couldn’t feel more bleak. Basically, even without intending to make a statement, Kylie says a lot without directly saying…something. See what I did there?
“We all got wanderlust in the darkest place…”
Perhaps the most devastating line to hear while sitting inside in the middle of July with nowhere to go: “Baby, in an endless summer, we can find our way…” Kylie’s just dreaming the same dreams of an in-person reunion as the rest of us.
One of the more intriguing parts of “Say Something” is the chorus – or rather, the lack thereof. It’s a blink-and-you-miss-it moment and, at first, almost feels as though the song’s been cut short by mistake. After repeat listens, the unconventional break in song structure becomes barely noticeable – especially thanks to a soaring bridge: in the remaining minute, the floor of “Say Something” drops out as Kylie takes off, presumably flying KM Air, traveling light years into the heavens across soaring strings while repeating a most heartbreaking-yet-hopeful quarantine mantra.
“Love is love, it never ends / Can we all be as one again?”
With more singers suddenly in tow, the song gradually turns into a mini church service. Those final, euphoric cries of “Say something!” are an ecstatic, incredibly emotional way to finish, and will likely go down well in front of an audience loudly chanting it back to her in hazmat suits at the Disco Tour in 2029.
Of the pop songs that have either incidentally or intentionally referenced the pandemic released thus far, “Say Something” feels like one of the best, and certainly most unexpected, stabs at addressing the melancholy and hope within our “New Normal.”
“We still need to dream and have that escapism. The song was written last year, and it felt like the one to go with first, and I think there’s a lot of room for emotion within that – however you feel, if you just want to shut your eyes and dance…or cry,” she explained.
And really, who better to provoke some shimmer of faith in the future than “I Believe in You” Kylie, “Fine” Kylie, “In My Arms” Kylie, “Everything Is Beautiful” Kylie – to hold our hands (virtually, at least, for now) during this moment of divisiveness and uncertainty? Only the glittering goddess herself – the very personification of a warm, reassuring hug – could provide that kind of relief.
Our disco needed her, and we most certainly need her Disco.
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Photo credit: @KylieMinogue