BMG executives Jamie Nelson and Anna Derbyshire have given an insight into Kylie Minogue's Tension campaign as the label bids to maintain its 100% album hit rate with the pop superstar.
The Australian's 16th studio LP promises to extend her impressive stint as an independent artist via her partnership with BMG, which has so far produced a hat-trick of No.1 records: 2018’s country music-influenced Golden (167,761 sales, OCC) and 2020’s Disco (179,892 sales), as well as 2019 compilation Step Back In Time – The Definitive Collection (228,584 sales).
Minogue renewed acquaintances with Nelson, BMG’s SVP, UK recordings, when signing to the company in 2017. Their relationship dates back more than two decades to their days at Parlophone on 2000’s Light Years (508,739 sales).
"Working with her on the A&R side for the first time in a few years, we were both keen to reset," Nelson told Music Week. "The idea of making a Kylie version of a country record seemed like a whole load of fun, so that worked very well. Then for the next album, we talked at length about defining it as a disco record, which also worked brilliantly well. We managed to double the sales on Disco - I think we're up to more or less 700,000 albums on that record internationally, which is fantastic prevalence."
We’ve been lucky enough - and it’s been great enough - to benefit from something that’s really captured people’s imagination on this record
In contrast, Nelson suggested that Tension not being guided by a specific musical theme has been liberating for the singer.
"Going into this record, Kylie was keen to take the shackles off and try to head into some spots that we’d not explored for a while, and I think that has really paid off again," he said. "We've ended up with a record that's just full of quality songs. It's probably not as defined in terms of its sound, but it all feels incredibly consistent and cohesive, and I feel like the level of songwriting is as good as it's ever been.
“It’s been an ongoing process of development. The last two albums have seen incredible progression from her - not just from a sales perspective, but creatively - and she’s managed to redefine her career yet again. As ever with her, she’s only focused on quality music. She’ll cut more songs than anybody else. She’ll reimagine songs five, six, seven times before she’s got them exactly aligned to her vision."
Tension has been boosted significantly by its physical release, which accounts for 35,777 units, whilst it has 2,849 sales from downloads and 1,675 derived from streams. The LP was trailed by two Top 20 singles - the title track (30,085 sales), which peaked at No.19, and the No.8 smash Padam Padam (302,511 sales) - Minogue's biggest hit in nearly a decade - which also reached the US Top 40.
“We always want to have hits or moments that feel very significant and we certainly have that this time with Padam Padam, but that wasn’t necessarily the main focus,” insisted Nelson. “We managed to have phenomenal success on the last album, for example, just through continuously dropping great music, as opposed to it being defined by one particular moment. And we’ve been lucky enough - and it’s been great enough - to benefit from something that’s really captured people’s imagination on this record.
"From my perspective, we need to constantly continue to broaden her reach. She’s an iconic, generational pop artist who’s best in class when it comes to the way she delivers her art. We want to back that and make sure she’s reaching the largest possible audience. I’m absolutely confident that we’re continuing that journey at the moment.”
The virality of the track - the video, the visuals and UGC - started to snowball. Kylie saw it, enjoyed it and leaned into it in a very warm, fun way
BMG included cassette and CD editions of the track alongside the release of an extended version to help secure the 55-year-old's first Top 10 solo entry since 2010’s All The Lovers. Her streaming figures are also on the rise - Minogue has built up 14.3 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone.
“Our relationship with Kylie started out with Golden and by the time we got to Disco, the streaming area was a real focus,” added Derbyshire, BMG’s senior marketing manager. “Disco was a two-year campaign: there was the main album release, then the Guest List Edition a year later, and that was two years of build.
"By the time we got to Padam, we’d seen massive growth in North America and other parts of the world and that was able to be built on, because the foundations had already been laid. There’s real understanding from everybody on the team and a great relationship with management as well. It all works as a great ecosystem.”
Co-written by Lostboy and Ina Wroldsen, Padam Padam has not only made its presence felt around the globe since receiving its live debut on American Idol in May, it has even landed Minogue her first viral smash, inspiring scores of TikTok creations, memes and videos.
"It started off with the American Idol performance of Padam, which was an important positioning moment in terms of intention in North America and globally," said Derbyshire. “What was heartening was the speed at which Capital and Kiss came on board in the UK. And then obviously the virality of the track - the video, the visuals and UGC stuff - started to snowball. Kylie saw it, enjoyed it and leaned into it in a very warm, fun way.
"The head of creative at Lego Worldwide created a Padam video in Lego, which was extraordinary. And one of the most iconic was Hobbycraft Wimbledon and their TikTok video, which Kylie then duetted with."
The singer's surprise appearance at the Capital Summertime Ball at Wembley Stadium in June provided another defining moment.
“What was so great about that was to see not just the mums and dads in the crowd, but the kids going wild for her as well,” continued Derbyshire. “That exemplified what we saw on TikTok where you’ve got under 25s who couldn’t care less how old she is. They thought, ‘She looked great, she’s cool, it’s a banger and I’m going to enjoy creating my own content on the back of it.’
“There was obviously a lot of chatter about Padam and female artists of a certain age, but I think she transcended it. It’s a matter of quality and what she’s saying and presenting being good enough - and it’s been surely proven that it is."
Subscribers can read the full interview with Kylie Minogue and her team at BMG, CAA and A&P Artist Management.