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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Earworm Weekly: Kylie Minogue's "Can't You Get You Out Of My Head"

Posted By on Tue, Apr 19, 2016 at 9:40 AM

click to enlarge kylie-minogue-1024x768.jpg
There's no point in pussyfooting around about it. Kylie Minogue's “Can't Get You Out of My Head” is the Platonic ideal of an earworm. If this column were to have a theme song, this would be it.

Does this song even have any verses? Who knows. They fall away under the relentless steamroller of the chorus, with its three simple lines: “I just can't get you out of my head / Boy your loving is all I think about." Repeat ad absurdum. It's pure ear candy, with a mid-tempo metronome of a beat that works just as well for an energetic walk around the block as for a gentle sway on the dance floor. As monster musical hooks go, it's practically in its own league.
Kylie Minogue seems to have been around forever. She began her career as an Australian television child star. She released a popular cover of “The Loco-Motion” in 1987 and her first full album in 1988. In the United States, she then more or less fell out of sight, barring a duet with Nick Cave for the latter's Murder Ballads album in 1996.

It wasn't until 2001 that she re-emerged with “Can't Get You Out of My Head.” But Minogue's career has been less hit-and-miss in the U.K. She successfully transitioned from squeaky-clean teen queen into a sex symbol, gay icon and fashion plate, and has managed to sustain her fans' interest for nearly three decades now. She's had a top-ten hit in Britain 31 times to date. Regardless, in whatever country you care to look at, “Can't Get You Out of My Head” remains her career high water mark. It's become Minogue's signature song.

Give Minogue credit for her performance, the sexy, breathy delivery. Unadorned with vocal theatrics, the chorus gets right to the point and hammers it home. “Can't Get You Out of My Head” was written, however, by Cathy Dennis and Rob Davis, British songwriters with a solid hitmaking pedigree. Dennis, only a year younger than Minogue, has had a hand in plenty of pop hits, including Katy Perry's “I Kissed a Girl,” “Bumper to Bumper” by the Spice Girls, and the American Idol theme song. “Can't Get You Out of My Head” remains her best-selling composition to date, but she's scored eight total U.K. number ones. Davis first found fame as a glam-rock guitarist, then moved into songwriting after his band broke up. His credits are less splashy than his co-writer's, but he's still put together a solid resume.

Pop stars are supposed to be like butterflies, colorful and short-lived. I remember jokes about Minogue's disposability back in high school. “Can't Get You Out of My Head” is technically about romantic obsession. But it works just as well as the signature song of a woman whose career has turned out to have a remarkable shelf life.
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Lori Selke

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