To say that Kylie Minogue’s sweeping opus Confide In Me has stood the test of time is something of an understatement. Released twenty years ago today on 29 August 1994, the lead cut from the perennial pop princess’ self-titled fifth studio album – her first with BMG offshoot Deconstruction Records – is an exquisitely-executed example of the enduring quality of her earlier work.
A glorious symphony of slinky, trip-hop beats, striking strings and sultry vocals, Confide In Me opened the doors to a new and exciting phase in Kylie’s career; one that saw her shedding the girl-next-door-turned-sex-kitten-down-the-road persona from her Stock Aitken & Waterman and PWL years, in favour of cultivating a more outwardly mature and sophisticated musical style and image by surrounding herself with a team of the UK dance scene’s hottest producers, songwriters and musicians, and popping some glasses and a suit on for the Kylie Minogue album artwork.
A music video that featured Kylie starring as a coquettish secret-storing siren of sorts (1-555-CONFIDE) cemented her visual reinvention. She was no longer the girl simply questioning those Finer Feelings, she was a woman owning them and the accompanying clip relayed that newly-found confidence with Kylie controlling a game of cat and mouse, as she provocatively purred her way through lyrical power play singing “Stick or twist, the choice is yours / Hit or miss, what’s mine is yours“.
Deconstruction founder Pete Hadfield is quoted on the 2003 re-mastered edition of Kylie Minogue as having once said in 1994, “Kylie is regarded as a trashy disco singer. We regard her as a potential radical dance diva. Any radical dance diva has a home at Deconstruction.” It’s a questionable statement, but one that was perhaps intended yet never fully realised, with the influences of UK dance and house music more evident either elsewhere on the album’s finely fleshed tracklisting (notably on Time Will Pass You By, Surrender and Automatic Love) or tucked away as B-sides which only Kylie’s most loyal fans would spend time familiarising themselves with.
CD1 of Confide In Me arrived first at the tail end of a roasting hot Summer, boasting two bonus club remixes. The track shot up the singles chart, and reached #2 on the UK Top 40 in its first week of release, sadly losing out on the top spot to Wet Wet Wet’s cover of The Troggs’ Love Is All Around. A week later, CD2 was released featuring two previously unheard B-sides. The Saint Etienne-produced Nothing Can Stop Us was originally earmarked as an alternative first single option from Kylie Minogue before being ‘relegated’ to its B-side status, whilst an intimate cover of Prefab Sprout’s If You Don’t Love Me saw Kylie at her most exposed and vulnerable and was later included on both Kylie’s 2000 Hits+ compilation and the setlist for her Aphrodite – Les Folies world tour. Oh, and then there was also the version of Confide In Me especially recorded for the French market, called Confié-toi à Moi.
In the UK, Confide In Me outsold all of the singles lifted from the pop star’s 1991 studio LP Let’s Get To It and her 1992 Greatest Hits collection, whilst in Australia it became her first number one single since Got To Be Certain had claimed the top spot in 1988. It can also be benchmarked as providing Kylie’s last UK Top 10 hit of the 90s. A crushing blow for the pop chameleon who, during the six years prior, had racked up sixteen Top 10 singles but for the following six would struggle to make any lasting dent on the chart at all.
Subsequent singles Put Yourself In My Place, Where Is The Feeling and Where The Wild Roses Grow may not have fared so well commercially, reaching #11, #16 and #11 in the UK respectively, but they too remain key placeholders in Kylie’s musical awakening. The former arrived with one of Kylie’s greatest videos inspired by the 1968 Jane Fonda-starring movie Barbarella, whilst Where Is The Feeling saw her dabbling with the UK dance scene, by taking on a little known cover of Within A World’s 1993 cult club hit. Both songs were accompanied by a raft of some of Kylie’s strongest dancefloor-ready remixes for their single releases.
Then of course arrived the famous duet with Nick Cave which replaced the M People-produced, feel-good LP closer Time Will Pass You By as the LP’s planned fourth single .The collaboration was lifted from The King of Darkness’ Murder Ballads LP and saw Kylie playing a doomed lover who would end up floating motionless in a river bed, in scenes inspired by Millais’ portrait of a lifeless Ophelia. Cave played a big part in unleashing Kylie’s creativity. On Kylie Minogue, she was only credited for co-writing just one song. For her follow up and final Deconstruction studio set, 1997’s Impossible Princess, Kylie had a hand in writing every single song on the record.
Twenty years on and Kylie has now released over sixty singles (if you also factor in her featured appearances) but Confide In Me stands the tests of time and its legacy is still very much present in the here and now. Steve Anderson, the man who with his Brothers In Rhythm partner Dave Seaman produced and wrote the track and several others on the album, remains a central figure in Team Kylie serving as the musical director for each of the performer’s dazzling live shows that have followed since. Confide In Me remains a setlist staple, only absent from the X2008 tour and her 2012 rarities showcase The Anti-Tour. Example sampled it on No Sleep For The Wicked from his 2007 debut studio album What We Made, and Nerina Pallot and Hurts have also recorded their own cover versions.
Confide In Me remains a key milestone of Kylie’s mid-90s creative impasse and one that paved the way for her exploration in to expressing her identity via different styles and genres. But, most importantly, it’s a ruddy good pop song that sounds as good now as it did twenty years ago. And it’s the first single I ever bought.
So are we ready to watch that video again? I thought so. Twist.