Kylie B-sides rank alongside sex and chocolate as one of life's great pleasures. In fact, they are probably the best of the lot. Listening to "Made Of Glass" on repeat won't make you fat or give you crabs. So what makes these rejects so intoxicating? Well, as any fan will tell you, many of Kylie's best songs have routinely (and quite inexplicably) missed the cut over the years. It's not uncommon for the B-side to be superior to the actual single. I gave up trying to understand the phenomenon long ago and just accept it now as a quirk of Kylie fandom. The other interesting thing about B-sides is the fascinating insight they provide into the evolution of an album. At least they did before we were drip fed every minor detail via the internet. The "Light Years" B-sides, for example, are mostly organic guitar driven songs - light years (excuse the bad pun) away from the album's upbeat disco-pop sound, while the "Body Language" B-sides show traces of a dance album that never eventuated. The situation would be unbearably frustrating if Kylie wasn't so generous with her bonus material. I count approximately 40 B-sides, not including leaked songs, bonus tracks or side projects. Here are my top twenty:
1. Ocean Blue (2000)
Making my mark on tomorrow, doing nothin' today
The amazing B-side to "On A Night Like This" has been one of my favourite songs since the first time I heard it and only seems to get more beautiful with each passing year. Written by Kylie and Steve Anderson, "Ocean Blue" is probably the most pared back track of Kylie's career. It's just her, a guitar and some strings toward the end. The result, however, is unexpectedly magical. I love Kylie's voice on this and the lyrics really touch a nerve with me. I've always interpreted it as a kind of mantra to chill out and live for the moment but it could just as easily be a straightforward love song or an ode to water sports. Ok, probably not the latter but whatever the case may be, "Ocean Blue" is exquisite and shows a very different side of Kylie.
2. Made In Heaven (1988)
When it calls me is it just like music and lights
Or is that just a fairytale?
"Made In Heaven" was apparently going to be a double A-side with "Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi" but was relegated to B-side status at the last minute. An unfortunate decision given that "Made In Heaven" is arguably one of the best songs Stock/Aitken/Waterman ever wrote. The sense of wide-eyed innocence and wonderment captured on this track is palpable and the production is suitably joyous and sweet. SAW were notoriously stingy with B-sides, which makes this all the more special. The remix (which was amusingly re-titled "Maid In England", "Maid In Australia" and "Maid In Sweden" depending on the release territory - despite the fact that they are all exactly the same!) is also a fabulous 80s treat. Check out the amazingly cheap video clip below. What the hell is going on with Kylie's hair?!
3. Tightrope (2002)
These days I find, you're always on my mind
My friends are going to be pretty shocked to see "Tightrope" only come in at number three given the fact that I usually list it as my all time favourite Kylie track. Written by Pascal Gabriel, "Tightrope" is one of the most majestic pop songs of the decade. It's wistful, melancholic tone sets it apart from just about everything else in Kylie's amazing back catalogue. The reason for its relatively low placing on this countdown is the subtle but obvious difference between the version that features on the Australian edition of "Fever" and the inferior mix used as the B-side to "In Your Eyes". Given that I'm ranking B-sides, I have to focus on the latter. I don't think an explanation was ever given for the changes but they were definitely not an improvement. Some interesting production flourishes were lost and the backing vocals are much less prominent, robbing the song of it's unique gospel-pop sound. Nevertheless, this is still a magnificent track. It's just a shame someone decided to fuck with perfection. Fingers crossed that Kylie works with Pascal again in the future.
4. Glad To Be Alive (1987)
Life's so hard some days
You need something new to wear
Like a brand new hat
To paraphrase an earlier post, Kylie's output with Stock/Aitken/Waterman is rightly appreciated by pop fans around the globe but the Australian version of "Locomotion" and its fabulous B-side have been all but forgotten. It's a shame because the original 1987 "Locomotion" is superior to the hit factory produced "The Loco-Motion" and "Glad To Be Alive" remains one of my favourite Kylie songs to this very day. Written and produced by two members of Australian new wave band Kids In The Kitchen (another act signed to Mushroom at the time), the track is utterly joyful despite the dodgy lyrics about buying new headwear. It also offers an intriguing clue as to what Kylie's debut album would have sounded like if she hadn't jumped on that plane to England.
5. Love Takes Over Me (1998)
How did I fall prey to this?
I was floored the first time I heard "Love Takes Over Me". I couldn't understand why it wasn't the lead single from "Impossible Princess", let alone fathom how it could have been left off the album entirely. The B-side to "Cowboy Style" positively bubbles with urgency and foreboding. Kylie has never sounded so dark, sinister and irresistibly sexy - before or since. I particularly love the production on this, the electronic sound effects and intricate layering are dazzling. "Love Takes Over Me" still sounds as fresh and original as it did 11 years ago.
6. Good Like That (2002)
So take a chance and love me fast
I give you all, all that I have
The "Fever" era produced some of Kylie's best B-sides and "Good Like That" has always been one of my absolute favourites. This is a pure pop delight with an instantly catchy chorus and memorably sweet, if not particularly deep, lyrics. The track is also notable for being Kylie's first collaboration with producer Cutfather, one half of the Danish duo behind "Like A Drug" and "All I See" on "X". As much as I love the song, it's hard to argue that it actually belonged on "Fever". The American pop sound would have been jarring among the more synth heavy tracks but it doesn't change the fact that "Good Like That" is as cute as a button.
7. We Know The Meaning Of Love (1990)
This is the perfect example of a B-side compensating for a relatively shit single. "Tears On My Pillow" has never been one of my favourite Kylie songs but I absolutely adore "We Know The Meaning Of Love". It's a fairly standard Stock/Aitken/Waterman produced ode to young love but the song lacks the cynicism that mars some of their lazier moments and the upbeat production nicely juxtaposes the bittersweet lyrics. Many fans insist that "We Know The Meaning Of Love" was a #1 hit in Sweden but I'm yet to see any proof, so I'll put that down to urban legend. The song's phantom Swedish chart success aside, this would have made a lovely contribution to "Enjoy Yourself". Particularly to the ballad heavy second half. Check out a wonderful fan video for the extended version below. It's great to see all that old footage!
8. Never Spoken (2002)
Those three little words
Were they ready to be heard?
Another Collaboration between Kylie and Steve Anderson, "Never Spoken" is one of the four fantastic B-sides to emerge from the various releases of "In Your Eyes". This breezy slice of guitar pop isn't quite as majestic as "Tightrope" or as instantly catchy as "Good Like That" but I find myself coming back to it again and again. I love songs that capture an every day experience or emotion - like a brain fart that results in you telling someone you love them after a week. Not that I'm talking from experience anything. "Never Spoken" reminds me of a more upbeat version of "Ocean Blue" and I've often wondered if it evolved from those sessions. The track doesn't really fit the "Fever" sound at all, which might be why it stands out as such a fan favourite.
9. Soul On Fire (2003)
Forget all that I said
Can't we go back to bed?
I still remember how excited I was when I first got hold of "Slow". That stunning electro jam pushed all my buttons and the B-sides ("Soul On Fire" and "Sweet Music") promised even better things from the album. Talk about false advertising. While "Body Language" didn't quite live up to my expectations, my love for "Soul On Fire" has only deepened over time. Written by Kylie, Dan Carey and alternative pop princess Emiliana Torrini (the exact same team behind "Slow"), this seductive little number is an unexpected gem. Everything about the track is subtle and understated, from the beats to the chorus. "Soul On Fire" would have sounded amazing next to "Someday" or "Loving Days" but was cut in favour of trash like "After Dark". Go figure.
10. Carried Away (2008)
The heat of the dancefloor's just too sexy
The fabulous "X" B-sides have been conspicuously absent from my countdown thus far but I've tried to give extra to wait to songs that have already stood the test of time. "Wow" is generally considered to have delivered the best B-Sides since "In Your Eyes" with the tasty trio of "Do It Again", "Carried Away" and "Cherry Bomb". I'm fond of all three but the former is a little too Eurovision for my liking, while the latter suffers from Bloodshy & Avant's amazing ability to overproduce. "Carried Away", on the other hand, is a perfect example of what Kylie does better than any other diva - sing bright, shiny pop songs about having fun at the disco. Greg Kurstin's production is pure Eurodance, making this the closest Kylie will probably ever come to sounding like Kelly Llorenna. Which I consider to be a very good thing.
11. All I Wanna Do Is Make You Mine (1988)
I all really wanna do is make you so, so happy
All I wanna do is make you smile
As much as I love giving "Especially For You" the occasional spin, I've always preferred the B-side. "All I Wanna Do Is Make You Mine" is a rambling epic that borrows strongly from (ie. blatantly rips off) "You're The One That I Want". Little more than a demo, this cute duet with Jason Donovan sounds strangely underdone but it never fails to lift my spirits. Stock/Aitken/Waterman definitely had a patent on slightly inane but utterly joyous pop music.
12. Paper Dolls (2000)
There's nothing more I can do
Than fall a little more in love with you
"Paper Dolls" is one of the most romantic songs Kylie has ever recorded. The lyrics are gorgeous and Kylie's voice has rarely sounded so beautiful and delicate. This lovely gem was the B-side to "Spinning Around" way back in 2000 and has held up considerably better than its iconic stablemate. Yet another Steven Anderson collaboration, I think "Paper Dolls" had the potential to be a hit - it would have sounded brilliant on radio - but it just didn't fit on "Light Years". Writing about (and listening to) all these stunning tracks, I can't help but hope someone puts together a "Hits+" type compilation for the Parlophone era. These songs deserve better.
13. B.P.M. (2004)
I wanna lose myself in your beats per minute
Everything I said about "Carried Away" equally applies to "B.P.M." - well, apart from the whole Kelly Llorenna thing. This is Kylie by numbers: A fun song with a great chorus that makes you want to move your feet. Written by Kylie, Richard Stanning and Julian Gallagher, "B.P.M." came to life during the "Body Language" sessions before finally appearing as the B-side to "I Believe In You". This would have brightened up "Body Language" no end but I guess it was too catchy and upbeat for that album. Interestingly, the song has already been covered - twice! Swedish diva Dani Evermore had some chart success with her lovely version in Poland, while according to the jokers at Wikipedia 70s folk icon Janis Ian apparently covered it in 2005! I'll believe that when I hear it.
14. Just Wanna Love You (1989)
I could make you happy
If you'd take a chance on me
The Stock/Aitken/Waterman produced B-side to "Hand On Your Heart" boasts what could be the worst vocal performance of Kylie's career. Her voice comes across as dull and lifeless, while the whole thing sounds like it could have been recorded on someone's answering machine. The lyrics aren't much better. I can't help but laugh every time I hear Kylie sing "there's nothing fatal in attraction, I'm just looking for some action". And yet, I always get a cheap thrill when this pops up on my Ipod. I'm a sucker for SAW Kylie and "Just Wanna Love You" really is quite fabulous in a so bad it's great kind of way.
15. Made Of Glass (2005)
It's like a million beats in a Parisian heart
After producing Kylie's worst ever single ("Giving You Up"), Xenomania redeemed themselves somewhat by coming up with this spectacular B-side. "Made Of Glass" is everything that "Giving You Up" wasn't - fresh, original and edgy. The largely nonsensical lyrics are undeniably pretty, while the spoken word verses counterbalance the subtle but effective chorus. From memory, this was only leaked when Rachel Stevens expressed interest in butchering it. Sneaky! "Made Of Glass" was actually released as a double A-side in Australia and this received the majority of radio airplay, becoming a top 10 hit.
16. Do You Dare? (New Rave Mix) (1992)
Do you dare?
Cause if you do I'll take you there
I used to think this was the coolest song ever released back in the 90s. Listening to it now, the trashtastic B-side to "Give Me Just A Little More Time" is little more than Kylie screaming the song's title over some incredibly dated beats - courtesy of Mike Stock and Pete Waterman. It doesn't matter, I still love every second of it. Put this on, grab some glowsticks and party like it's 1992!
17. If You Don't Love Me (1994)
You can tell me anything,
I'll believe you
The most famous "Confide In Me" B-side is unquestionably Kylie's version of St. Etienne's "Nothing Can Stop Us" but I've always found that fan favourite strangely underwhelming. I much prefer the other B-side, Kylie's acoustic cover of Prefab Sprout's 1992 single "If You Don't Love Me". I would have loved to hear an electronic version along the lines of the original but the song sounds amazing stripped back to basics. Kylie's voice is gorgeous on this, those high notes still give me goosebumps. It's relatively low ranking is only due to the fact that the song reminds me so strongly of the superior "Hits+" track "Stay This Way".
18. King Or Queen (2007)
Dancefloor royalty, that's what you are to me
I salute you!
Kylie, Karen Poole and Greg Kurstin apparently brainstormed "King Or Queen" in Ibiza and you can almost smell the Sangria and sweaty Spanish nightclubs. Another tale of disco shenanigans along the lines of "Carried Away" and "B.P.M.", the "2 Hearts" B-side stands out thanks to the overtly camp lyrics and the fabulous spoken interlude. I think this would have made a nice addition to "X" but it's not as glaring an omission as "Rippin' Up The Disco" or "Lose Control". Nevertheless, this is great fun and sorely underrated among Kylie fans.
19. Say The Word - I'll Be There (1991)
If you're deep in the jungle boy
caught in a winter storm
kidnapped by anyone
I'll set you free
No this isn't a cover of the Jackson 5 classic but a bad lyric (see above) filled epic written by Kylie and two thirds of Stock/Aitken/Waterman. Objectively, I know the "Word Is Out" B-side is sentimental crap without a redeeming feature but I've always found its shortcomings hugely appealing. Maybe it's the trash lover in me but I've played "Say The Word - I'll Be There" more times over the years than I care to admit. At the very least this should hold some interest to fans due to it being so different from everything else recorded in the "Let's Get To It" era. Don't judge me!
20. Cherry Bomb (2008)
The more I think of you, the more I melt like ice cream
I mentioned earlier that I'm not a huge fan of Bloodshy & Avant's heavily produced sound but "Cherry Bomb" is superior to their other "X" contributions and the song continues to grow on me with every listen. It's hypnotic, edgy and sexy - in a robotic kind of way. The sound is very now but I wonder how it will hold up in ten years time. In the meantime I plan to play this jam. A lot.
I've listed my 20 favourite Kylie B-sides. Here are 5 stinkers to avoid at all costs.
1. Love At First Sight (Live) (2004)
2. Almost A Lover (2004)
Possibly the single most vile thing Kylie has ever recorded - after "You Make Me Feel".
3. I Don't Know What It Is (2007)
The worst "X" B-side by far.
4. Boy (2001)
Plodding, uninspired dance Kylie.
5. Cover Me With Kisses (2000)
Kylie channels Shirley Bassey. Badly.