A genre-defining superstar eschewing the classic pop sound that made her famous in favour of mid-tempo country bops… sound familiar? Just like Brexit put off every other country from leaving the EU, you’d have thought Lady Gaga’s disastrous foray into homespun country-pop would serve as a stark warning to any other pop icons looking to do the same. Gaga’s Joanne was a colossal commercial flop compared to her previous efforts and failed to produce any solid singles (let’s be honest, ‘Million Reasons’ is possibly the worst of her whole career).
But far from being disheartened by Gaga’s failure, Kylie Minogue has followed in her footsteps with new country-influenced single ‘Dancing’.
Though on paper Minogue’s move into folksier territory reads as almost identical to Gaga’s, the reality is quite different. While the bulk of Joanne was overblown and pompous, Minogue’s effort is a more lowkey affair imbued with the same pop principles that have made her such a staple of the top 40. The result is a slow-burning but enjoyable country-pop outing that sees Minogue singing with a slight Parton-esque twang over picked acoustic guitars.
As you’d expect, ‘Dancing’ isn’t all bales of hay and line-dancing. There’s a modern twist in the production that features hand claps (apparently it’s illegal not to have hand claps in a pop song now) and an electronic riff for the chorus. It’s a shame Minogue didn’t stick to a more acoustic approach, as the electro blare cheapens the track, sounding basic and lazy at the centre of what is otherwise a good pop tune. Given that Minogue had the guts to cross over into a new genre, it would have been nice to see her be a little bolder and reject the tired tropes of pop’s eternal EDM hangover in favour of something fresh.
But you can always rely on Kylie to deliver a good pop song. Though elements of the track feel out of date, this is more than made up for by Minogue’s injured, longing sigh in the chorus. As all perfect pop moments are, it’s simple but effective, the elongated ‘ahhh’ encapsulating more feeling than a dozen hackneyed country couplets could. While ‘Dancing’ might not be the club banger some of Minogue’s core base were hoping for (in an ideal world she’d just re-release ‘The One’ every couple of months), it’s likely she’ll return to her famous brand of dance-pop soon. Remember, before the purist pop of ‘Wow’, Minogue released cabaret bar single ‘2 Hearts’ as the lead single from comeback album X. It’s possible that ‘Dancing’ is something of an anomaly too, and one we should enjoy on its own cowboy-booted, square-dancing, hay-chewing terms before Minogue switches lanes once again.