Kylie Minogue – Turn it Into Love
Kylie Minogue’s first album was released the day before my sixteenth birthday, which meant that I had a brilliant day due to having lots of new songs from an exciting new pop star to listen to. I’m fairly sure that turning sixteen is meant to be quite a big deal, but for the life of me I can’t remember a single other thing about that day other than constantly playing the cassette of Kylie. It’s quite possible a party was thrown for me (equally possible one wasn’t), but Kylie – and one song in particular – has blotted out all the other details of a major life event. I’m not bothered – it’s a brilliant song. Ladies and gentlemen, I present possibly the greatest Minogue single that never was – and a strong contender for the finest ever Stock/Aitken/Waterman song – Turn it Into Love.
That first week I must have rewound and replayed this tune dozens of times, possibly a lot more. For me, it’s the record that properly invented Kylie as a long term pop proposition: while I Should Be So Lucky set the template for her as the potential queen of tearful dancing, it was Turn it Into Love that put her on the throne. That divine streak of melancholy has accompanied Kylie throughout her career, so even when she’s giddily in love you always get the feeling it probably won’t work out. And if you ask me that makes for brilliant pop.
Turn it Into Love also shows S/A/W’s knack of writing masterpieces lasting about three minutes that probably take not much longer to write. Famously – possibly apocryphally – I Should Be So Lucky was banged out while Kylie waited in reception, and this fact has sometimes been seized upon by S/A/W brilliance denialists as an example of a dreadful one-size-fits-all production line technique. I disagree – it is an example of a brilliant one-size-fits-all production line technique. A lot of pop (as we shall shortly find out) gets ruined by over-thinking and over-production, so there’s a lot to be said for hammering out a song, deciding it’s perfect and cracking on with the next one. For me, Turn it Into Love is perfect. The intro – all one second of it – is inexplicably exciting, and gives way to one of, if not the best S/A/W hooks of them all, loaded with joy and yet with a faint whiff of despair at the same time. And then there’s Kylie’s vocal – Calrec’d to high heaven, but a glorious thing nonetheless. I’ve never understood people who say she can’t sing, can you? Her voice – pushing at its upper limits here and all the better for it when set against a lovely thudding bassline – is the ideal vessel for this kind of pop. Other, technically more proficient singers have had a go at this song, and as we shall see later, came a cropper.
Secure in the knowledge that it was by far the best track on the album, I waited for Turn it Into Love to become a single. But then The Locomotion came out – understandable, given how big it had been (in its original, non-S/A/W version) in Australia, so I figured it would be the fourth release. But no. Instead, in September, THIS happened – and I’m still not quite over it.
This is perhaps one of the problems inherent in running a hit factory – you can never be quite sure that another, covetous pop star hasn’t got a paper cup jammed up against the wall of the recording studio, listening in with envious ears. Yes, the evergreen Hazell Dean took quite a shine to Turn it Into Love and because she had either a) immense powers of persuasion or b) something on Pete Waterman, it was she who got to release it as a single. With a new intro – possibly designed to make you think Never Gonna Give You Up was about to start and send you hurtling to the dancefloor – Hazell’s version reached a disappointing no.21 in the chart. The reason? It’s a bit rubbish. The charm of the original was to be found in its sparseness, and this cluttered, designed-for-shoulder-dancing version featuring that newish, slightly chugging style of S/A/W production (as also found in Bananarama’s new track Love Truth & Honesty which debuted the same week) ruined it almost completely.
The only place where Kylie’s version of Turn it Into Love got a single release was Japan, where it logged an incredible 10 weeks at no.1 on the international chart – this after a rather charming homegrown cover by Wink had hit the top of the domestic one.
You’d think that might be it for this particular tune, but no! In 2008 up it popped again, this time courtesy of perpetually grinning X Factor sensations Same Difference. Now, as it happens I was quite fond of Sean and Sarah – like Sonia before them they were (to nick an observation from Neil Tennant) so relentlessly jolly in a Vera Lynn-rallying-the-troops-sort-of-a-way that it was impossible to dislike them. But good grief, their version of Turn it Into Love is a bit of a mess. It gets bonus points for the chimes, but all the Steps-y embellishments and fancy harmonies result in the song getting away from them, like a cat twisting in your arms when it absolutely does not want a cuddle. Just like Hazell’s version, too much fiddling with Turn it Into Love robs it of its simplicity and therefore its beauty. Their version was pencilled in as the second single, but it appears to have missed its release date by a good eight years now, so I am seriously thinking about cancelling my pre-order.
Which brings us to the present day, and it looks like the song is making yet another comeback. Pete Waterman is rumoured to be working on an album of orchestral versions of S/A/W classics – a completely brilliant idea by the way – and Turn it Into Love has apparently made the cut. Whether this will improve it or not is anyone’s guess, but I’m hoping they use Kylie’s original vocal and finally release it as a single (which obviously won’t chart, but what can you do these days), thereby enabling me to have some closure on the matter after twenty eight years.
Entered chart: was not released
Who could sing this today and have a hit? I think I’ve proved beyond any reasonable doubt that this song belongs to one person and one person only: Kylie.