Kylie Minogue is having a moment right now. While she’s always been one of pop’s most loved stars, and a solid album seller, Kylie has struggled in the singles charts since the introduction of streaming.
Once a firm staple of the upper echelons of the chart, Kylie hasn’t charted higher than number 10 since her Taio Cruz collaboration ‘Higher’ in 2010. With her solo singles, the highest position she’s reached in the past decade was with ‘Into the Blue’, the lead single for her divisive album ‘Kiss Me Once’ in 2014. ‘Dancing’, the lead single from her 2018 album ‘Golden’ only managed to reach 38 and ‘Say Something’, the lead single from 2020 album ‘Disco’ didn’t even crack the Top 40.
Prior to the release of ‘Padam Padam’, Kylie teamed up with Oliver Heldens for ’10 Out of 10’, a song that will be included on her new album ‘Tension’, and that didn’t bother the Top 40 either. Ahead of the arrival of ‘Padam Padam’, fans on social media were arguing with one another about whether the singles chart even matters any more with some declaring that Kylie wouldn’t get another Top 40 hit due to ageism and the radical change to the way the charts work.
The response to ‘Padam Padam’ was mostly positive when it leaked a couple of weeks early. A low-quality version of the song circulated online with a large portion of her fans declaring it to be her best single in years. Interestingly, leaks of other songs from ‘Tension’ were taken down pretty quickly but the ‘Padam Padam’ leak stayed up and was very easy to find by simply doing a quick Google search. . The cynic in me can’t help but think the ‘leak’ was all part of a well-calculated release strategy by her label BMG.
When the official release of ‘Padam Padam’ came on 18th May, fans were cautious about whether or not the song could be a hit for Kylie. Many fans believed that BMG would put all of their energy into shifting pre-orders of ‘Tension’ and hopes for ‘Padam Padam’ returning Kylie to the top 40 seemed slim. With the release of the song came the one and only public live performance – a medley of ‘Padam Padam’ with ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ – on the ‘American Idol’ final.
In its first week of release, BMG cannily released an extended mix of the song almost doubling the length (it clocks in at 4.04 versus the single edit at 2.46), available exclusively through Kylie’s official website. Why was this a good move? Because downloads are worth more when it comes to compiling the chart than streams. One download is one sale, whereas 100 paid streams, or 600 free streams, equals one sale.
Fans rushed to her store to buy (multiple copies) of the song and in its first week ‘Padam Padam’ charted at 26. That meant Kylie was already on her way to having her biggest hit since ‘Into the Blue’ and fans flew into a frenzy. Around the same time, BMG played their next card – releasing a physical single, again available only from Kylie’s official website, released on 2nd June. That gave the song a week to pick up on streaming, which it has making various big playlists on the likes of Spotify and Apple Music, and pre-loaded sales for week 3.
Thanks to the streaming growth, and continuing success of downloads in week 2, ‘Padam Padam’ moved to a new peak of 23 on the singles chart. Some fans expressed disappointment online that the song hadn’t catapulted into the Top 10, but those fans seemed to quickly forget that streaming has made the singles chart a long game now. Few artists start at their peak position, unlike the glory days of the 90s. Now we’re into week 3, those pre-orders for the physical CD have kicked in and according to a midweek update from the Official Charts Company today (Sunday 4th June), ‘Padam Padam’ is currently at a new peak of number 6.
Whether or not it holds that position until Friday remains to be seen but it should be noted that the midweek for week 2 put the song at 24 and it ended up landing a place higher. With the combination of physical single sales, the still strong download sales and streaming of the track growing, it’s looking very likely that the song will chart within the Top 10. For an artist who recently turned 55, is in the fifth decade of her career and has done barely any promotion for this song, that’s an incredible achievement.
Before anyone tweets at me asking why I mentioned Kylie’s age, the reason is because ageism plays a huge part in pop music. Most radio stations don’t playlist artists past their 30s but the success of ‘Padam Padam’ shows two things; you can never count Kylie out and a good pop song is a good pop song. So aside from the solid strategy from BMG to build buzz around the song, why has ‘Padam Padam’ gone on to be Kylie’s biggest hit in a decade?
It’s simple. Brand Kylie has never been stronger. Since signing to BMG in 2017, Kylie has seen her album sales rise. ‘Golden’ and ‘Disco’ were both certified Gold – 167,000 and 176,000 copies sold respectively – and 2019 greatest hits collection ‘Step Back in Time’ also hit Gold. All three releases were number 1 albums for Kylie too, proving that despite her lack of singles success she was still able to connect with her fans and sell albums.
Add to that the huge success of her wine brand, which sold more than 7 million bottles in 2022 and Kylie Prosecco is the biggest-selling Prosecco in the UK, the star has found ways to connect with her fans outside of her music. The wine brand has taken her all over the world too, signing bottles for fans and its definitely helped her make in-roads in the US, a market that she’s almost cracked but never quite managed.
It should also be noted that ‘Padam Padam’ was designed for the TikTok generation. Its under 3-minute run-time means that it doesn’t outstay its welcome and with producer Lostboy (aka Peter Rycroft) on board, who has worked with the likes of Rita Ora and Little Mix, Kylie sounds more energised and current than she has in a long time. The Sophie Muller-directed video, which is the first video from Kylie since she signed to BMG that actually seems to have a budget, features choreography that fans have been replicating on TikTok, helping the song to go viral on social media.
With months to go until the release of ‘Tension’, it looks like Kylie fans will have a lot more to celebrate. ‘Padam Padam’ has given Kylie the most buzz she’s had in a long time, for her music anyway, and should the song go all the way to number 1, it’ll be proof once again that Kylie is the kind of popstar who can rewrite the rules time and time again. Don’t be surprised if ‘Tension’ becomes her biggest album since 2010’s ‘Aphrodite’ and roll on the inevitable ‘Tension’ tour, which I’m sure will be announced in the coming months.
Kylie Minogue’s ‘Padam Padam’ is out now and the album ‘Tension’ is released on 22nd September 2023. You can pre-order ‘Tension’ at Amazon now.
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