Kylie Minogue’s debut as a judge on The Voice needs to work if she’s to raise her stock as a recording superstar. She needs to leverage off the hit show to spin around flagging album sales. Why? Well, when it comes to current music sales, they’re little north of Nowhere-ville.
Kylie doesn’t sell like she used to. Her latest album, Kiss Me Once, which, at the time of publication has been in the charts for six weeks, has sold fewer than 15,000 copies in Australia and is currently sitting at number 27 on the ARIA Albums chart (even Cliff Richard is higher).
In the UK, her strongest market, Kiss Me Once is in free fall, plummeting to number 57 from last week’s 38. In the US, the market she has feverishly tried to break throughout her career, it’s disappeared without a trace.
And it’s not for want of trying. Her new management company, Jay Z’s Roc Nation, has paired her with Pharell Williams and Sia. She’s schlepped her famed bottom around the world in a vain bid to flog Kiss Me Once, but to no avail. She even donned leotards and filmed a racy clip for Sexercise (yes, you’ve seen it before, Madonna did that ten years ago with Hung Up).
You see, Kylie was hoping for controversy to lead to sales for Sexercise and Kiss Me Once, but she didn’t get it. In an attempt to go viral, not even Kylie’s high voltage star power could sell units, ensuring the track had the stellar equivalent of a sad little tea-light.
Not even Kylie’s high voltage star power could sell units, ensuring the track had the stellar equivalent of a sad little tea-light
This is why we need to talk about Kylie. The Australian media, in particular, is almost united in its adulation for her with nary a negative review for Kiss Me Once to be found. Rather, the fawning and cooing by some in the media is enough to make even the most hardcore sycophant blush.
It’s this gushing adulation that is masking the problem: Kylie is producing tripe, and the public are onto it. Her last hugely successful album was 2001’s Fever. Yep, 2001. Decades ago, her albums, Kylie, Enjoy Yourself and Light Years sold millions. Today, Kiss Me Once is unlikely to even be certified Gold (35,000 sales) yielding Minogue slightly less revenue from its Australian sales than the annual salary a high school teacher.
So, despite the constant coddling by the media, powerhouse representation, and a long-established and successful career, what we’re sadly witnessing is a recording star in decline. Kylie needs new, and more cunning tricks, than whacking on gold hot pants and huskily whispering lines like “and then my skirt came down”. She needs to evolve her image and her music to win over a new lucrative fan base: younger listeners.
The argument that radio is not playing her tracks because she’s over 40 is weak. Divas such as Cher, Madonna and Jennifer Lopez all managed to snare airplay at similar ages and move albums because they reinvented. But with Kylie, there is no evolution. Bunging in a little dubstep on a track is not evolution, it’s about as cool as your dad using YOLO in a conversation with your mates.
Kylie is unquestionably a hugely successful recording star with a swag of hits and millions in sales, but it’s going to take a lot more than a spinning chair on a high-rating Australian television show to help her keep her throne as one of the true Princesses of Pop.