Call her Kylie-lie-lie: the Aussie pop princess has done it again. With her 16th studio album Tension, Kylie Minogue has proved why she is one of the very best pop stars alive today.
Tension is Kylie at her most seductive and carefree; it’s an ode to letting the good times eclipse the bad, shutting off all negative emotions and heading to the dance floor. Think 2020’s Disco with a futuristic edge.
From the viral sensation “Padam Padam” to bonus album closer “Somebody To Love”, here is every track on Tension ranked, from great to greatest.
14. Love Train
Let’s just say I can see why this one was relegated to the bonus edition! It certainly stands out sonically as one of the album’s more idiosyncratic songs. “Ninety-nine lives, Super Mario,” she says in verse one. It’s fitting, as “Love Train” could soundtrack a mobile game.
13. Vegas High
The song that infamously outed her upcoming Vegas residency thanks in part to Kelly Clarkson, “Vegas High” is fiery and propulsive, but a little paint-by-numbers when it comes to the chorus. Rhyming high, sky, time and night is a bit pop for beginners. It’s not bad, but not the album’s best.
12. Just Imagine
Just Imagine is Tension’s most mid-tempo track, and that works in its favour. It sets itself apart from the pack, and twinkles as it reaches its crescendo. A surprising addition, considering its placing on the bonus version.
11. Green Light
The jazzy “Green Light” is good, though it falls victim to a curse that was present on Kylie’s last album Disco – it feels a little like some of the other better tracks mushed together. It’s sleek and groovy à la Dua Lipa’s Barbie hit “Dance The Night”, don’t get me wrong, but it’s definitely more middle-of-the-road.
10. 10 Out of 10
More seven out of 10 than 10 out of 10, this one. It’s got the signature ‘80s synths that Tension has employed throughout, but its chorus, spoken by the song’s producer Oliver Heldens, makes it feel more like a Drag Race finale song than a fully-fledged club banger. Enjoyable, yes. One of the album’s best? Not quite.
9. Somebody To Love
The album’s final track (if you’re listening to the bonus edition), “Somebody To Love” feels like classic Kylie. Affirmative, warm, glowing vocally, a bit pensive – it sounds like it could soundtrack the conflict resolution stage of a Netflix romance drama. A wholly pleasant experience.
8. You Still Get Me High
“You Still Get Me High” is a deceptive little one; just when you think you’re getting a bit of space to catch your breath on the dance floor thanks to the mid-tempo intro, the chorus hits. It’s like going from four to 10 on a treadmill. Apologies to your BPM. It’s got all the ‘80s glitz of track three, “Things We Do For Love” – just a little less addictive.
7. One More Time
Like “Padam’s” more retro pal, “One More Time” is also about finding someone on a night out who makes your blood rush and your heart go … you know the rest. “I know your star sign, what’s on your bedside,” is the album’s best opening lyric. A solid job.
Ending the standard edition with “Story” – Tension’s most effervescent moment – was a wise choice. It’s cheesy and kitschy like the closing number of a queer as hell musical, and feels like a subtle nod to the community Kylie knows will be listening. “You’re part of my story,” she murmurs at the end, and I can’t help but feel she’s talking directly to her gays.
5. Things We Do For Love
An immediate Kylie classic, the pulsating ‘80s synths of “Things We Do For Love” become ever more intoxicating as the song goes on. It’s almost a shame that this one is only reaching our ears as the dreary autumn months roll around, as it’s as summery as sand and seawater. A potential hit for Kylie when the days get warmer again next spring.
4. Hold On To Now
The majority of Kylie’s discography hits like dopamine, but there are a select handful that are just pure pop euphoria. “Hold On To Now” falls firmly in that category. It feels like a little, celestial sister to her 2020 single “Say Something”, with a sprinkling of Robyn’s 2018 comeback smash “Honey” – a compliment of the highest order.
The simple “Call me Kylie-lie-lie … ” is like the classy sister of “it’s Britney, b***h” – effortlessly cool, immediately iconic. As the album’s second single and title track, “Tension” was a pretty solid indication of what was to come from the record as a whole. It’s fresh, slick and steamy, which just about sums up the entire Tension era.
“Hands” swelters like Doja Cat’s “Kiss Me More” or Katy Perry’s “Feels” – sweaty, summery, and just super fun. A big hit in hiding; if Kylie doesn’t release “Hands” as the next single, she’s missing a trick. Tension’s coolest, most replayable two minutes.
1. Padam Padam
Of course. Whatever happens for the remainder of Kylie Minogue’s career, the hypnotic “Padam Padam” will forever remain one of her most unifying moments. The way the LGBTQ+ community and its Kylie-loving allies united to ensure “Padam Padam” became the song of the summer was beautiful. Not since Bimini Bon Boulash’s lentil lyric has a single pop culture moment brought people together with such fervour.
The memes! The TikToks (Special shoutout for Hobby Craft Wimbledon)! The way it played more times than I breathed during Mighty Hoopla in June!
Whether “Padam Padam” is critically Tension’s best song is irrelevant, as is whether it feels overplayed at this point. It’s her biggest hit in years. It will always be the song that defines the Tension era, and one of the most defining moments of Kylie’s career.
Tension is out now.
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