Lady Gaga and Kesha aren’t the only pop singers adding a little country-influenced twang to their tunes.
Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue’s latest studio album “Golden” came out Friday and features the synth-pop sound that brought Minogue to fame back in the ’90s, while also throwing in some folksy instrumentals. While the aforementioned Lady Gaga and Kesha completely crossed over in terms of genre on their most recent studio releases, Minogue attempts to blend her signature electro-pop sound with country-folk influences.
The most apt description of the album came from Minogue herself – in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Minogue said the album feels like “Dolly Parton standing on a dance floor.” Ultimately, however, the album just doesn’t quite match the high level of musical value on her previous albums.
The intro to the album’s opening song, “Dancing,” immediately marks Minogue’s departure from her typical synth-dance sound, with arpeggiated acoustic guitar chords emblematic of the country-folk genre. However, as Minogue dives into the chorus, the song takes on a more electro-pop timbre, with a booming bass and Minogue’s repetition of the phrase “When I go out, I want to go dancing.”
Most of the other songs follow a very similar pattern: country-influenced verses and electronic refrains. While the two influences tend to balance each other out, they have a heavily formulaic feel, and at times it can feel a bit overwhelming simply because all of the tracks sound the same. It’s almost like listening to one 54-minute song.
However, the rigid structure does work well some of the time – the album’s titular song “Golden” skillfully blends country music and dance music. Minogue’s upbeat repetition of the phrase “We’re golden” gives the song a danceable feel, while the somewhat eerie background vocals add a layer of musical intrigue to the track.
For the most part, though, the formulaic blending of country and dance doesn’t work – the album seems to be targeting two very different demographics: country fans and electro-pop fans.
For example, the song “A Lifetime to Repair,” starts out as a cute and bubbly country tune with upbeat guitar chords and Minogue’s slight imitation of the Southern dialect as she sings “Cupid don’t love me like he used to do.” However, as Minogue counts down from six and dives into the chorus, the song introduces loud and jarring percussive elements and an oddly out-of-place bass drop.
The song would be far stronger if she stuck to the country elements throughout the whole track, as the chorus falls extremely flat and doesn’t match the authenticity of the verses.
However, there are a few notable exceptions. “Radio On” is a heartfelt country ballad that doesn’t really feature any strong electronic influence. Though the chorus’ percussive elements do evoke dance beats, the song ultimately feels quite sincere and genuine as Minogue sings about garnering strength through music.
“Raining Glitter” also succeeds in blending country and pop elements, meshing synthetic percussion sounds with a quick-paced, looping acoustic guitar early on and setting the “Dolly Parton standing on a dance floor” tone perfectly.
The album is by no means a bad one – but it certainly is not going to go down as Minogue’s magnum opus. While the few songs that diverge from the boring and droll structure that Minogue sticks to throughout most of the album make it somewhat worth listening to, the overall product doesn’t match the caliber of Minogue’s earlier work. At the end of the day, Minogue really ought to stick to what she’s best at – fun and danceable pop songs.