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Addressing the Summer 'Padam-ic'

Padam! padam. padam? All but a few variations on the polysemic word (?) which had linguists scratching their heads over the summer, and which briefly overtook the beloved ‘slay’. Truly, onomatopoeia never sounded better. The word championed by Australian pop princess Kylie Minogue’s single ‘Padam Padam’, from latest album Tension, catapulted the singer, 55, into unprecedented success and cemented her status as an artist endowed with the ease of reinvention.

‘Padam Padam’, the infectious dance track that uses the onomatopoeia of a heartbeat as a source of seduction, overcame the nation during summer, greatly due to TikTok which effectively housed the single. The platform saw countless users perform routines to the song, most notably the staff of a humble HobbyCraft in Wimbledon, with their all-out performance that saw staff waving drapes of red fabric — an ode to the music video’s colour palette, which has subsequently come to define the new Tension era.

As an avid ‘Lover’ — Kylie’s affectionate name for her fans – I declare 2023 the year of Kylie. With a top ten track for the first time in over a decade, a headline billing at Radio 2 in the Park, TikTok trendsetting, and an upcoming Vegas residency under her belt, I wonder if the woman has had a chance to sit down. And yet she shows no signs of weariness, only an energy that transcends the sceptics.

Throughout 40 years of pop-perfection, the singer has cherry-picked genres from country to jazz, adapting them to fit the effervescent ‘Kylie’ sound. Minogue is a true reminder that pop is a genre more clever than you might think. One only has to look back to her 2000 single ‘Spinning Around’ to hear the singer tell of how she’s ‘found a new direction’, and 23 years later, the phrase still rings true.

Unafraid to experiment, Kylie’s electronic sound in her sixteenth studio album, Tension, succeeds the 2020 lockdown album DISCO which – with its uplifting tracks – garnered a cult following and provided a step-ladder to finding a new generation of fans. DISCO was fun, Tension feels fresh, and yet ever so reminiscent of the sound that characterised Kylie’s reign over pop in the 2000s.

Minogue describes the new album as “a blend of personal reflection, club abandon and melancholic highs”. Critically-acclaimed, Rolling Stone lauds the album’s deliverance as an “irresistible dancefloor paean”, while DIY Magazine, awarding it five stars, declares: “There’s no pretension to its greatness, just our Kylie, once again, humbly proving how easily she can forge gold and transform into pop culture phenomenon”.

It’s frankly unheard of that a pop singer in her fifties has secured a comfortable status in the charts, when commercial success rests so often with those in their twenties. Kylie quashes the ageist rhetoric of these singers being ‘past their sell-by date’, conveying her age is no factor in her ability to produce music that appeals to the masses.

The rebirth of Kylie is a welcome return to all but perhaps none more so than the queer community, who from the first beats of ‘I Should be So Lucky’ in 1987 have held her high on a pedestal. In many interviews, Kylie has spoken of how she is indebted to her LGBTQ+ followers for protecting her in times of commercial nadir in the 90s to her recovery from breast cancer in the mid 2000s. The singer has no doubt expressed her gratitude in providing dance-floor classics which have and will continue to become pillars of the community’s relationship with music.

The endearing aspect of Kylie’s repertoire is that it does not function on deep thought but on euphoria, allowing listeners to rid themselves of stress and dance: because in its unfiltered state, it's simply music. If previous albums are not enough to go by, Tension will show how beholden the music industry is to Kylie Minogue, for upholding an overlooked genre that we often cower away from for fear of being ‘dull’ or ‘predictable’.

I would've never guessed that in early 2022, when I began spreading Kylie propaganda to all of my friends, that the singer would have reached this sort of career high again. Now I can praise the singer without the usual sniggering, and only pray that I manage to secure tickets for her tour…which (at time of writing) she is yet to announce. A matter which is uniquely un-padam.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

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