I firmly believe anything Kylie can do, Dannii can do better. Well, with the obvious exception of being successful and having hits. However, there's another chink in Dannii's otherwise fabulous armour - her B-sides, more specifically her lack thereof. Earlier this year I wrote a long post about Kylie's amazing pop offcuts and thought it was about time I did the same for the younger Minogue. Unfortunately, they are harder to find than Dannii's dignity. I count 10 meagre tracks over her 20+ year career, 12 if you count the bonus interview on "Success" and Album megamix on "I Begin To Wonder" (which I don't). It's suddenly clear to me why Dannii always has 35 shitty remixes and no B-sides. The tight bitch has been stockpiling them for her endless string of budget compilations! Anyway, I've decided to order these decidedly slim pickings from best to worst. Here goes:
1. Someone New ("Coconut" - 1998)
"Someone New" isn't just my favourite Dannii B-side, it's one of the best songs she has ever recorded. Everything about this dance anthem is completely epic, from the running time to the spectacular production. Despite coming in at nine and a half minutes, the Green/Masterson penned track never sounds like a remix. Instead, it perfectly blends dance and pop elements. I particularly love the little splashes of piano and the ruthless way the track keeps building and building. I remember reading about "Someone New" being the possible lead single from "Girl" before the album was even released, so I'm mystified as to why it was left off altogether outside Japan. It's an amazing track that would have made a great album even stronger.
2. Feel Like I Do ("So Under Pressure" - 2006)
In my opinion this is the saving grace of Dannii's sorry stint at AATW. Unlike most of the music she released at the house that K Lo built, "Feel Like I Do" isn't watered down dance trash. JCA and Hannah Robinson delivered a meaty pop gem that was the logical progression from "Neon Nights" - dark and dirty pop with killer beats and an almost haunting chorus. I think JCA always bring out the best in Dannii and I hope she considers working with him again if she ever comes out of retirement.
3. Hide & Seek ("I Begin To Wonder" - 2003)
Can someone please build me a time machine so I can go back to 2002 and re-live the "Neon Nights" era? It was so perfect, it almost feels like a dream. The music, the artwork and Dannii's hair - all faultless. The magic even extends to the B-sides. While "Nervous" and "Goodbye Song" are favoured by most fans, I slightly prefer "Hide & Seek". It's such an odd little pop song with its Eastern influences, strange chanting and minimal chorus. The track was probably a bit too abstract for "Neon Nights" but it's definitely one of the most interesting tracks Terry Ronald and Ian Masterson have created for Dannii.
4. It's Time To Move On ("This Is It" - 1993)
This is probably the hardest Dannii B-side to come by given that it has never been released on CD or as a digital download. The "Early Years" fiasco could have remedied that situation but the song was conspicuously absent from the tracklist before the album sold out on iTunes. A couple of years ago a friend ripped me a copy from my "This Is It" cassingle and I've really warmed to it. Unlike many fans, I love Dannii's crazy mid-90s experiments and this is a corker. "It's Time To Move On" is a fairly typical 90s dance track with some subtle R'n'B elements to give it an American sound. It's fairly dated but I love Dannii's vocals and the chorus is very cute. This is better than many of the tracks that made it on to "Get Into You".
5. Nervous ("I Begin To Wonder" - 2003)
I was obsessed with this Ronald/Masterson gem when I first heard it. I think I've played it several hundred times too often over the past few years and have grown a bit tired of it. However, of all the "Neon Nights" B-sides, this is the only one that would have seamlessly slotted into the album. I love the slightly darker dance sound and the chorus has real bite. "Nervous" has an edge that makes it stand out from the crowd. It's depressing to think that a song this good couldn't even make the cut a couple of years ago while noise pollution like "Touch Me Like That" is now considered singleworthy.
6. No Secret ("This Is The Way" - 1993)
I ache for Dannii's mid-90s R'n'B phase and this trashtastic urban jam is fairly typical of the period. It's not quite as charming as "It's Time To Move On" but I love the tinny beats and the cheesy chorus. Maybe it's time for New Jack Dannii to stage a comeback?
7. Goodbye Song ("Don't Wanna Lose This Feeling" - 2003)
The third of the "Neon Nights" B-sides produced by Terry Ronald and Ian Masterson is something of a camp classic. I love the bitchy lyrics ("I've got more to say to the girl who does my nails" and "I think I've got a moment in 2029") and the loopy production but the chorus is MIA. That said, this is still a great little pop song and indicative of the creative high that Dannii and her collaborators were riding at the beginning of the decade.
8. Hallucination ("Jump To The Beat" - 1991)
I'm not even sure this technically qualifies as a B-side. Was the US CD single an official release or just a promo? Anyway, I'm not exactly spoiled for choice so I'm including it. Most fans will be familiar with this from "The Remixes" - the remixed greatest hits package (don't laugh) with the wonky nose on the cover. That version is labelled the "LA Mix" but I can't tell any difference between it and the original. Speaking of LA Mix, that dance outfit wrote and produced "Hallucination". This is probably the wildest thing Dannii recorded in the early part of her career. It's kind of like a poor man's "Do You Dare?" only with a whispered rap. It's very quirky but a lot of fun.
9. Est-Ce Que Tu M'Aimes Encore ("I Begin To Wonder" - 2003)
This is a tough one. The original is one of my all time favourite Dannii tracks but the French language version doesn't quite sound right. In fact, it's almost as clunky as Kylie's French version of "Confide In Me". On the other hand, I'm a sucker for foreign language versions of pop hits and I listen to this quite frequently. It definitely has novelty appeal!
10. I've Been Waiting For You ("Perfection" - 2005)
The B-side to "Perfection" is curiously underwhelming. I love Terry Ronald and Ian Masterson but this just sounds tired - like every other faceless dance track being churned out of AATW. The production is a bit flat, the chorus doesn't quite click and Dannii could be reading from the phone book, she sounds so disinterested. Kind of sums up the entire AATW era really.
I Don't Wanna Take This Pain (Saxtrumental) ("I Don't Wanna Take This Pain" - 1990)
This doesn't really count as a B-side but I re-discovered it recently when I was going through my Dannii collection. The "saxtrumental" version was only released on vinyl and is one of the trashiest things I've ever heard. Think Kenny G covering "I Don't Wanna Take This Pain" and you get the picture. I recommend hunting this down for comedic value alone!