Happy 20th Anniversary to Dannii Minogue’s third studio album Girl, originally released September 8, 1997.
It was always about music and performance for Danielle Minogue, the youngest of three children born to Ronald and Carol Minogue in Melbourne, Australia. Courtesy of the Australian soaps and teen talent shows of the 1980s, Danielle Minogue became Dannii Minogue. By the end of that decade, Minogue had become one of Australia's most promising stars, rivaled only by her older sister, Kylie Minogue. The inevitable recording contract, via Mushroom Records, followed at the conclusion of her television tenure and produced two studio LPs: Dannii (1990)―repackaged as Love and Kisses internationally in 1991―and Get Into You (1993).
Minogue's R&B infused pop was vibrant, heard across the singles these records spun off between 1990 and 1993. However, it was the remixes that these singles received that sparked an artistic romance with dance music that forever changed Minogue's sound. Amid the personal turmoil of her separation from her first husband, actor Julian McMahon, Minogue began writing and recording her third studio effort in 1994 and 1995, inspired by this club-oriented perspective. Now being handled by MCA Records, the label and Minogue’s relationship broke down over the course of the album's birthing period. The project was shelved and Minogue departed MCA. In December 2009, the recordings from that aborted release were finally issued to the public as The 1995 Sessions.
Minogue took a temporary respite from music, returning to television―this time in the United Kingdom―and musical theatre in the two years prior to signing to Eternal Records in 1997. This new deal signaled that Minogue was ready to resume work on her third LP―to be demurely titled Girl―with the label support she needed.
Sheena Easton, Geri Horner, Belinda Carlisle, Tina Turner, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Natalie Cole, Girls Aloud, Donna Summer and Cher were all women that had utilized the services of three notable British production cliques before and after Girl: Flexifinger, Metro and Xenomania. All three of them were brought in by Minogue to helm her junior affair. Though Minogue ended up with only three co-writing credits on Girl―“Everybody Changes Under Water,” “Everything I Wanted” and “If It Moves-Dub It”―she was specific about the songs she wanted to sing. Her experiences of the preceding few years, especially her divorce from McMahon, provided lyrical power to the constructs rendered by the aforementioned production outfits.
Minogue returned to her desire to plug into a modern club sound and for Girl she lassoed in trance and techno. The frequencies of said trance and techno rhythms were adjusted with pop tweaks for accessibility and focused listening, but it didn't sap the dance genres’ edge or energy. The electronica of the set's eleven tracks is propulsive and poppy. There’s the shimmering, 90s Hi-NRG rocker “All I Wanna Do,” the tropical revivalist mod-pop of “Heaven Can Wait” and the somber uptempo ballad “So In Love With Yourself” that features her sister Kylie on back-up duty. “So In Love With Yourself” mirrors the capricious mood, in both narrative and sonic tone, on the experimental endeavors “Everybody Changes Underwater” and “Everything I Wanted.” To call them Minogue's most atmospheric recordings wouldn't be wrong. Barring an ill-advised cover of the Harry Nilsson 1972 novelty hit “Coconut,” the album's eleventh and “hidden” track, Girl was a redefining effort for the pop vocalist.
The album's commercial run commenced with Girl’s first single in August 1997, “All I Wanna Do” (UK #4, UK Upfront Club Chart #1, AU #11). Certified silver in Britain and gold in Australia, “All I Wanna Do” also had the distinction of becoming Minogue's initial British dance chart topper. A month later, Girl was released in most international territories on September 8, 1997. Three more singles followed “All I Wanna Do” throughout the remainder of 1997 and well into 1998: “Everything I Wanted” (UK #15, UK Upfront #1, AU #44); “Disremembrance” (UK #21, UK Upfront #1, AU #53), “Coconut” (AU #62). Critically, Girl hit the mark, but did not move units as Minogue had hoped (UK Official Albums Chart #57, ARIA Top 100 Albums Chart #69). But, she needn't have worried though, just six years later with her fourth album, her definitive masterpiece Neon Nights (2003), the chart accolades were ample.
“I feel much older now, but I'm still too young to care,” a lyric from “Disremembrance” characterized the maturation of Dannii Minogue as a woman and an artist living for the moment, but aware of the future ahead of her. Girl was that first step forward to the creative evolution that awaited her.