Sunday, 11 October 2009

1989 Kylie Minogue & Jason Donovan: Especially For You

On November 8 1998, UK fans of Aussie soap 'Neighbours' who tuned in to episode 523 were treated to the spectacle of the on-screen wedding of Kylie 'Charlene' Minogue and Jason 'Scott' Donovan. And over nineteen million people did just that. With their popularity at fever pitch, the prospect of a duet between the pair was fearfully in its inevitability in the way a pensioner fears the oncoming of winter, and it duly arrived in the shape of 'Especially For You'.

To their credit, Stock, Aitken and Waterman (who else?) didn't simply pull an old duet out of the someone else's vaults to cover (which would have been oh so easy to do), and neither did they knock up one of their usual robopop creations and have each singing alternate lines (another easy option). Such was the standing of the pair in popular culture that either of these soft options would have sold by the cartload. Hell, even hoary old Angry Anderson managed to get a slice of chart action off the back of one of his songs being used to soundtrack the wedding, something he couldn't manage in thirty years of leading Rose Tattoo.

No, 'Especially For You' was written as a duet proper with call and response verses that both take lead on. Donovan ensures he doesn't disgrace himself by wisely ignoring the music and making sure he sings flat and in probably the only key he's comfortable with. Minogue, on the other hand, was still under the illusion that her talent lay as an interpretive vocalist, but her nasally whine would not have got her past the first heats of any regional X Factor contest were it not coming out of any mouth other than hers. Luckily, it's tempered by the backing 'wooos' that add a touch of otherworldly class to the finished product, tacking on an extra layer of dimension that's not normally found in the SAW canon.

At heart, 'Especially For You' is a surprisingly solid effort, an attempt to write an actual song rather than just a catchy tune. It's sugary and sweet, but at least it's new sugar rather than the sickly dregs from someone else's mug. And I honestly think it would be interesting to hear it tightened up and given to a more competent couple to have a crack at - even Denise van Outen and Johnny Vaughan found a depth to it that the present twosome wouldn't have found with a map and torch. In the hands of Donovan and Minogue, it's merely passable, but it came as something of a relief that the much dreaded, incoming winter turned out to be a mild affair after all.

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