Thirty years ago, Kylie Minogue predicted the future. “When you can’t find the music / To get down and boogie / All you can do is step back in time,”she asserts on “Step Back In Time,” a single off of her third studio album. This mindset has defined the music of 2020 like no other, as the disco revival has turned into the biggest musical trend of the year so far.
Pop stars like Dua Lipa, Jessie Ware and Roísin Murphy; R&B artists Doja Cat and The Weeknd; and even K-pop idols like YUKIKA and BTS have all excelled at utilizing ‘70s and ‘80s sounds in new and refreshing ways, dominating the charts and setting a new genre-combining standard for hits. So, when pop-icon Minogue teased in a May interview with GQ that her upcoming album is full of “grown-up disco” songs, fans were excited that the queen of ‘70s throwbacks was slated to make a return, posing to reinvent herself yet again.
Minogue’s 1997 album, “Impossible Princess,” was a more personal, indie approach compared to her previous pop records, but it received mixed reviews. Retrospectively, critics went back and gave the album its credit. Minogue then went back to what she did best and signed with a new label who wanted to restore her pop image. Her comeback single “Spinning Around” ranks at the top of her discography, and its infectious energy landed her another No. 1 hit in the United Kingdom. The album “Light Years” arrived in 2000 and was the most groovy and upbeat collection of songs by her so far. Embracing Europop and disco roots, the album was campy, kitchy and pure joy. You can almost picture a musical like “Mamma Mia!” being made around the songs due to the flair and charisma they exude.
Minogue then refined her image and, the subsequent year, released “Fever”: A sleek, elegant record filled with dance-pop and disco songs that still feel futuristic. The album spawned her biggest hits to date — “Can’t Get You out of My Head” and “Love at First Sight,” — earworms that still sound fresh two decades later. Constantly referred to as her magnum opus, hints of “Fever” showed up in later projects, like the R&B-heavy “Body Language” (2003) and the pop-centric “Aphrodite” (2010).
Now, Minogue has reinvented herself once again after 2018’s country-tinged “Golden” with “DISCO,” bringing retro sounds to the future. The lead single, “Say Something,” was released in July to immediate critical acclaim, with some labeling the track as one of her best songs. Speaking to the disconnect of quarantine, she opens with, “We’re a million miles apart in a thousand ways” over a wobbly synth. Minogue describes the video as “intergalactic disco,” featuring her among the stars in a massive tinfoil-like dress and riding a stallion in space. In her signature charm, the song is over-the-top, but sophisticated and tender enough to work. “‘Cause love is love, it never ends / Can we all be as one again?” she sings during the bridge, reminding us of the loneliness of the pandemic.
The album begins with “Magic,” one of the catchiest tracks on the record and whose decadent video features Minogue as queen of the disco, dressed in gold and watching over partygoers. “Real Groove” and “Supernova” both feature heavy voicebox to accentuate their respective tunes. The former is lighter on its feet while the latter is an energetic comparison of love to space. “Dance Floor Darling” immediately places as one of the best in Minogue’s discography, with a hard-hitting chorus that quickly speeds up and spins into a hectic, explosive musical outro — a trick she’s used previously on “Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love).”
“Fine Wine” and “Monday Blues” seem like they could be placed on the aforementioned “Light Years” album. Their tropical, sun-splashed rhythms make you feel like you’re sailing away on Cruise Kylie, a lucrative business opportunity I wouldn’t put past her to explore. On the “Light Years” title track, she plays the role of an airline stewardess (“Thank you for flying KM Air,”she jokes). “Fine Wine,” possibly a nod to her recent wine endeavours, features a particularly fun bridge about eating chocolate cake for breakfast, while “Monday Blues” is a frenetic ode to managing weekday stress (“You make every day feel like Saturday / Let’s go / Oh, you get me through those Monday blues”).
Minogue gets personal on deep cuts like “Celebrate You” and “Hey Lonely,” showing her heart. The former is an ode to Mary, a character who is “anyone and everyone [that] needs reassurance that we are enough and we are loved,” she tells Apple Music. The whole song feels like a hug, boasting the chorus, “Everything I like about myself is better with you / Scream it to the world like what the hell, I celebrate you.” After feeling the love, Minogue and Mary hit the dance floor in “Hey Lonely,” where she sings “Hey lonely, what you doin’ for the rest of the night? / ’Cause I just wanna give you my love, my heart / My sweetness and devotion” in the chorus. These two heartfelt songs reflect the genuineness and love Minogue exhibits in countless interviews.
Rather than merely participating in the 2020 disco music trend, Minogue is reaping the benefits of her previous work. In celebration of the album’s release, she hosted “Infinite Disco,” a virtual concert filled with songs from the record and previous hits. True to its name, “Infinite Disco” continued the party in a time where cancellations and pushbacks were frequent. Releasing a disco album when no one can dance might seem like a death penalty, but Minogue knew exactly what was needed at this time.