Kylie Minogue’s American Idol return proves the era of the pop diva is officially back
The past 12 months have seen huge returns from some of the world’s biggest and best pop titans, from Taylor Swift’s mammoth Eras and Beyoncé’s Renaissance tours, to Miley Cyrus’s chart domination, and Rihanna’s Super Bowl takeover. Now, we can add Kylie Minogue into that mix.
Australia’s greatest and gayest export, Kylie, sent the LGBTQ+ community into overdrive last week with the release of her new single “Padam Padam”, a refreshing, instantly catchy slice of dance-pop perfection.
The accompanying music video whetted the appetite for a fully-fledged Kylie comeback. At less than three-minutes long, it’s not a video with a message or ulterior motive. It’s about choreography, bright colours and looking hot, three simple but essential ingredients for any proper pop star return.
The song has been stuck in the queer collective conscious for days now, which is a great start. But, as one social media user put it over the weekend, Kylie could be staring at a hit that moves beyond Spotify Pride playlists and Twitter discourse. A mainstream hit could be incoming.
On Sunday (21 May), she performed a glorious mash-up of the single along with her 2001 hit “Can’t Get You Out of my Head” on the final of American Idol, one of the US’s most-watched talent shows. Innocuous enough, except for the fact that Kylie had all but given up promoting her music in the country until now – she last charted on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Slow”, which is almost 20 years old.
In the UK, Kylie’s comeback appears to mark a similar shift. With “Padam Padam”, she is looking likely to have her biggest British hit in nearly a decade. Singles from her last two albums, Disco and Golden, barely scratched the top 40. The new single sounds much more like a top 20 hit.
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Throughout much of the mid to late 2010s, there was a lack of jaw-dropping pop diva moments. While artists such as Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa and Lizzo stepped in and took over the airwaves, and Beyoncé offered up one of the best performances of her career with Beychella, others took hiatuses. Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Madonna and Britney, all known for their grand pop star spectacles and extravagant visuals, were largely absent for one reason or another.
It seems that the drought is coming to an end. The biggest song of the year, in terms of chart performance, is Miley’s pure pop lead single “Flowers”, which recently spent its 18th week at number one on the United World Chart – the longest ever reign, surpassing even Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”.
Beyoncé’s Renaissance world tour is currently tearing through cities in Europe, while Swift is dominating stadiums across the US – two of the biggest music moments of the year. Madonna’s Celebration tour will add to that in July.
Even pop queens without a juggernaut legacy seem to be moving towards maximum power. Rita Ora was lauded for embracing her pop stardom during a medley performance on a recent Eurovision semi-final, while Loreen gripped audiences with her sandwich-esque staging and soaring single “Tattoo”, eventually winning the contest.
Zara Larsson’s performance of her single “Can’t Tame Her” on Dancing On Ice in January would have suited a much bigger stage, while Kim Petras had social media ablaze with her various award show renditions of the Sam Smith collab “Unholy“. Earlier this month, Janelle Monáe gave us one of the most daring music videos of her career to date.
It feels as if the world’s greatest divas have a growing hunger to deliver bigger, bolder material, on bigger, better stages. If Kylie’s comeback is anything to go by, it feels like the world – not just the gays – are ready to enjoy it.
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