Album Reviews

Dannii Minogue – Neon Nights

(Ultra) UK release date: 17 March 2003

Dannii Minogue - Neon Nights Kylie Minogue has become a cultural treasure. She is a hot-butted Vera Lynn, a good-boy’s Calendar girl. Yet…there is another. There’s a Dark Willow in Buffy, a Dark Phoenix in The X-Men – and there is also a “Dark Kylie”. Dark Kylie exudes more of a night-time sexuality than Kylie herself. Dark Kylie has greater dance floor credibility. Dark Kylie is a brunette that wears black. Like Willow and Phoenix, Kylie is in danger of being overcome by her darker side, her sultry sibling Dannii Minogue.

It may seem odd to imagine Kylie’s position to be threatened by her sister, given that Dannii Minogue hasn’t released a real album in 6 years. That’s a heckuva long time in pop music. In fact some are describing this forthcoming album – Neon Nights – as a comeback. But Dannii hasn’t been sitting around twiddling her thumbs for all that time. She released a Singles compilation a couple of years ago, the remix version of which sparked some interest. Further signs of life appeared with the first single release from Neon Nights – the Riva collaboration Who Do You Love Now. This reminded the world of Dannii’s powerful vocals, and helped to cement her dance floor credibility.

To further increase that credibility, Dannii has managed to collect together a great portfolio of hip team-ups for Neon Nights. They include Neimo, Roger Sanchez, and producer Murlyn (Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, J Lo, Beenie Man). And another boost for the album came along in the guise of controversy over the lyrics on the track Vibe On (always good for album sales). Lonely Dannii has had to find new ways of getting satisfaction after her Christmas split with ex-Bros star Craig Logan:

“Instead of just lying there,
Why don’t you show me that you’re powerful,
Put in triple X batteries just so you give me something wonderful,
Change it up fast and slow
Till I find the frequency I like.
Love it when you do my vibe on”

Sadly the perceived quality didn’t match the controversy. Vibe On was described by The Sun as being one of the worst songs ever written. Surely an exaggeration – didn’t Mr. Blobby win that vote recently?

Moving from the vibrator to the stylus, Put The Needle On It (released as a single in November 2002), is a Neon Nights track that was received far more positively – it peaked in the Top 10. Put The Needle On It clearly differentiates Dannii from Kylie. It shows Dannii has more of a cyberpunk side than her sis. Kylie tries to be robotic at times, but inevitably comes over as the Human Calendar Girl. Dannii is the true cybernetic siren of the night. Needle is a slow but inevitable grower, and it shows that Dannii’s dark song-writing powers can compete right at the top of the charts.

The track I Begin to Wonder is another piece penned by Dannii. It is slipped into the realm of dark electro by the production of Jean Claude Adef. Combined with Dannii’s video, the whole package oozes star quality. It may well prove to be Dannii’s Can’t Get You Out Of My Head. It should establish the beachhead needed to push Neon Nights firmly into place near the top of the album charts. If Dannii cannot win and hold a position of new popularity with this album and single, she may never get another chance.

So the Cyber-siren of Sydney is on track for her 15 months of fame. The marketing machine is warming itself up, and even Justin Timberlake is allegedly “helping her out”. Kylie needs to get some new improved material released, and work her revamped image like a steroid-stuffed wrestler – or she is in danger of being engulfed and surpassed by her darker side.

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Dannii Minogue – Neon Nights