|Single by Kylie Minogue|
|From the album Impossible Princess|
|Released||16 March 1998|
|Recorded||1997; Mayfair Studios, London, England|
|Kylie Minogue singles chronology|
|Impossible Princess track listing|
| "Did It Again"|
| "Say Hey"|
"Breathe" is a song recorded by Kylie Minogue, taken from her sixth studio album Impossible Princess (1997). The song was written, produced and composed by Kylie, Dave Ball and Ingo Vuak. Kylie had co-written the track while she was on holiday with her boyfriend Stéphane Sednaoui, who had taken her on a series of trips around Southeast Asia and North America. Like the rest off the parent album, the trips encouraged Kylie to write songs based on her celebrity status and become more inspired by this. It was taken as the last commercial single byDeconstruction Records.
The lyrical content talks about Kylie's personal sense of expressions and quietness. The song came about after one of Kylie's commented on her quiet attitude; this led to further themes of contemplation and thinking to be inspired in the song. Musically, "Breathe" is an electronica song that utilizes softer synthesizer and keyboard instruments along with drums, bass guitars and other additional instruments. This song, along with album track "Too Far", became her first songs to fully co-produce and co-compose.
Critically, the song received favorable reviews from most music critics, who praised the production. Many critics commended the composition and experimental production and has been signified as one of Kylie's career, and album highlights. Commercially, the song achieved only moderate success by peaking only inside the top third in both Australia and the United Kingdom. It managed to chart in other countries including Spain and Greece in lower positions. The song proved to under-perform throughout the albums last segment of promotion by Deconstruction.
An accompanying music video was directed for by Welsh film director Kieran Evans, which featured Kylie inside an airspace with lighting and spiraling effects, provided by CGI and green screen. The video managed to achieve good reviews from critics and the public. In addition, Kylie had performed the song on only one tour, which was her Intimate and Live tour, along with appearances on Top of the Pops, Live & Kicking and a TV appearance on theNational Lottery show.
Kylie began writing lyrics for her sixth studio album Impossible Princess in 1996 during trips with boyfriend Stéphane Sednaoui to the US and China. When she returned, Kylie was constantly writing down words, exploring the form and meaning of sentences. She had written lyrics before, but called them "safe, just neatly rhymed words". Kylie initially had a hard time embracing her past, looking back on it as a time of pain and confused embarrassment. Confronting her past helped her improve her confidence; she said "it was like I'd climbed Mount Everest, or jumped out of a plane. So many things that I had avoided for so long were right there. That was what Nick (Cave) was saying to me. 'It'll be brilliant. It'll confront all of your past, all in one fell swoop'. And he was right."
Kylie had greater freedom to make Impossible Princess sound as she wanted it to. Deconstruction Records' A&R representative, Pete Hadfield, fell terribly ill for a year, so all creative production was handled by Kylie and the producers Brothers in Rhythm. According to music press, Kylie wanted to establish herself as an indie artist. However, she denied, telling Mixmag: "I have to keep telling people that this isn't an indie-guitar album. I'm not about to pick up a guitar and rock." The song was originally titled "Clever Girl (Did It Again)".
To promote the album, she released the lead single "Some Kind of Bliss", but was only chosen due to a bias decision by Deconstruction as she personally favored "Limbo". Despite the decision and initial release, the song attracted negative commentary from most music critics in 1997 and under-performed severely in international countries, mainly in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, where it peaked inside the top twenty and top fifty respectively. The following single "Did It Again" was positively received from most music critics and although it only charted in Australia and UK, it managed to be successful and was certified gold by Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for exceeding sales off 35,000 units.
"Breathe" was written by Kylie herself alongside British musician and producer Dave Ball and Ingo Vauk. All three collaborators had also produced and composed the song, despite Kylie never being accredited this on the album notes. "Breathe" was one of the only songs on the album that Kylie had composed, participating with the synthesizer and keyboards, while Livingstone Brown had played the bass guitar, drums by Steve Sidelnyk and other additional instruments were handled by Ball and Vauk. This also marks Kylie's first and final song along with "Too Far" that she had co-produced. "Breathe" was recorded in London, England at Ball and Vauk's home studio's while additional recording was handled at Mayfair Studios. For the Todd Terry remix, Kylie flew to Chicago, USA to re-record the track and overlap the track for the remix.
|“|| "I wrote it in Japan; at the time, I felt very still and restrained. My girlfriend told me, "You don't realize how loud you are when you are quiet!". It is typical of me to be thinking, deciding what is wrong because I'm not clear in my head. That's why I say "Breathe" because I have to stay calm.
—Kylie talking about "Breathe".
Musically, "Breathe" is an electronica-inspired song that was noted for its comparison with other electronic tracks, particularly with "Say Hey". Structure-wise, the song is set in the key of B. Kylie's vocals span from B note to A note while singing through the chorus and verses, while the bridge of the song is sung in a higher E note. According to Tom Parker, who provided the special edition album notes for Impossible Princess, "["Breathe"] is a seductive electronic groove, with a hypnotic subtlety and timelessness befitting the theme inward contemplating and resolve." Larry Flick from Billboard said that "Breathe" is a user-friendly jam and is largely due to its big-beat electronic groove and ear-tickling pop chorus.
Lyrically, the song talks about withholding expression and emotions and expresses contemplation. Written in Tokyo during her trips with her then-boyfriend Stephane Sednaoui, Kylie explained that the story was based on her friendships, with many of her friends commenting on her quietness; she commented "My girlfriend told me 'You don't realize how loud you are when you are quiet." She felt that it was "typical" of her to be "think, deciding what is wrong" because she felt that things in her head "were not clear."
After disappointing sales from "Some Kind of Bliss" and "Did it Again", Kylie eventually decided to release "Breathe" as the third single. However, when the song was decided for a February 1998 release, Impossible Princess was released four months prior and critical reception and commercial performance fell under expectations; the album peak inside the top ten in both Australia and the UK but suffered criticism in the latter country. Many critics and public criticized the phase of "Indie Kylie" and felt it "scared" the public. Sales also suffered, entering at number ten and making it her lowest charting album in the UK. Due to low sales, Deconstruction were afraid of bankruptcy and were prompt to terminate Kylie's contract if sales did not increase, but due to mutual agreements and near completion of her contract, they decided to allow her to leave in her own choice; she announced her leave shortly after.
"Breathe" was released as the last commercial single worldwide by her record label Deconstruction Records. Like her previous single, Kylie released the single as two-set CD single's. The song was released as a two-set CD single in the United Kingdom and Australia, both including remixes, the album version and the first set release featured an interactive music video of "Did It Again". The artwork for the single was shot by Sednaoui, who had previously photographed the album sleeve and photoshoot of Impossible Princess. The cover sleeves feature a close-up picture of Kylie's face. The song was released as a promotional CD and cassette single in the UK and a vinyl in Spain, Australia and the UK.
"Breathe" received positive commentary from most music critics. Michael R. Smith from Daily Vault said along with "Did It Again"; "[“Did It Again”] and [“Breathe”] are most notable for the videos that went along with them and are fair representations of the album at large (which should be the purpose of singles), though there are many more undiscovered gems here." Nick Levine from Digital Spy had selected the song as the albums best track by writing "Truth be told, this album lacks an absolute classic to match ['Confide In Me'], but ['Breathe'] – subtle but sneakily catchy with it – could be one of Min's most underrated singles." While reviewing the 2004 compilation Ultimate Kylie, Jaime Gill from Yahoo! Music praised the DeConstruction era by writing "If you doubt the fanbase observation, witness the famously fallow deConstruction years. Beginning in 1994 with the gorgeously glacial, slinkily synthetic ["Confide In Me"], Kylie enjoyed brief success before fans fled in droves from awkward faux-rock like "Some Kind Of Bliss" (not included) and flimsy house like "Breathe"." While review the 2000 compilation Hits+, Mackenzie Wilson was positive towards Kylie's seductive vocals on "Breathe", "Automatic Love" and "Confide in Me".
Chris True from Allmusic selected the song as an album standout on her Greatest Hits 87-97 compilation album. Jason Lipshutz from Billboard had listed 'Kylie Minogue Primer: The Top 10 Past Hits You Need To Know' and listed "Breathe" at number four, stating "Breathe" is the obvious standout, sounding almost like a Nine Inch Nails throwaway in its opening seconds and morphing into a silky, sexy defense of Kylie's experimental side. A reviewer from the publication TheBacklot put "Breathe" at number 14 on their "Kylie Minogue’s 50 Best Songs, In Honor Of Her Birthday" and said "“Breathe” would be a meditative masterpiece if it weren’t so confrontational, deadpan, and sexually domineering. Impossible Princess’ unassuming heartstopper trips into unexpected carnality in its choruses, assuring you “It won’t be long now” as you try to time your hyperventilation."
In February 1998, "Breathe" was released in the United Kingdom. The song became Kylie's twenty-eighth consecutive top forty single when it debuted at number fourteen on the singles chart, and spent a total of four weeks in the top seventy-five. The song was the fourth highest debuting single off that week, with the highest debut being Spice Girls's single "Stop". In Australia, the song was released as the third out of four singles, the other being an Australian-only single "Cowboy Style". The song debuted at number twenty-three, the highest entry of the week end 26 April 1998. The song stayed inside the top forty for ten weeks and survived a total of thirteen weeks, dropping at number forty-eight on its final weekend of 19 July 1998. Despite a lower position, it became one of Kylie's longest charting singles in Australia. In other countries, the single performed mildly. It reached number one on the Israeli Singles Chart and number three on the Russian Airplay Singles Chart.
An accompanying music video was directed for by Welsh film director Kieran Evans and was his first collaboration with Kylie. "Breathe" was the first professional work ever directed or produced by Evans and after the shooting of the music video, Evans continued to work within the music industry and became a regular collaborator for Heavenly Films, a sister project of British record labelHeavenly Recordings; this led him to direct and produce more music videos for other music artists. The music video starts with close up shots of Kylie's body parts including her face, hands, wrist, eyes and lips. Throughout the song, a giant glass orb is centered on the screen and is shun by a mysterious light. From there onwards, it features Kylie in an airspace of spiraling effects, as she floats through the atmosphere, all produced by green screen and CGI effects.
Near the chorus, it features shots of Kylie's foot and hand touching against a smooth surface. In the second verse, it features three different video footage of Kylie layering over top, with one of the video footage having her singing the track and features an all body shot during the second chorus. The video then finishes with Klyie floating away, being inset of her own eye that was shot at the start of the video. For the radio/video version, the song was digitally sped up and ran at a much faster tempo.
One of the shots of the video was used as the album cover for her 2002 greatest hits compilation Confide in Me. The music video was features on many of Kylie's video formats including The Kylie Tapes: 94-98, Greatest Hits: 87-99, Artist Collection and the most recent release was on her 2004 DVD release Ultimate Kylie.
Live performances and other uses
To promote the single, Kylie had performed the single on several television programs and channels. Kylie had debuted the single performance in 1998 on The Ben Elton Show, wearing a pink shirt, long skirt and singing while being backed by her live band. While Kylie was a guest start for an exclusive interview, Kylie received the opportunity to perform the single live on the Australian morning series Hey Hey It's Saturday. She had later received the opportunities to perform the single live on several other live shows including the Top of the Pops, The National Lottery show and Live & Kick music show.
Kylie performed the song on the Intimate and Live Tour. The song was featured on the opening act for the tour and featured Kylie singing the track on stage, wearing a black long-collared shirt and three-quarter pants, similar to the costume off "Did It Again". Like the rest off the costumes on the tour including the performance off "Some Kind of Bliss", it features Kylie with a lot of "princess"-inspired outfits. The performance was part of the concert realized in the Capitol Theatre in Sydney, Australia, which was recorded and released in CD and DVD. "Breathe" was later performed by Kylie on her one-off concert "Money Can't Buy", held on 15 November 2003 at Hammersmith Apollo, London, to promote her ninth studio album Body Language. The "Bardello" act of the concert commenced with a mashup of "Breathe" and "Je t'aime... moi non plus", a 1969 French duet between Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. Craig McLean from the Daily Telegraph described the backup dancers during this segment as "Tour de France cyclists moonlighting as Moulin Rouge hostesses." The performance was later added to Kylie's Body Language Live DVD from the concert.
In 2011, Kylie sang an acoustic version while on her 2011 Aphrodite: Les Folies Tour. In 2012, the orchestral version of the song didn't make the tracklist of The Abbey Road Sessions but the song was eventually uploaded on Kylie's official YouTube account. Excerpts of the song were used in the intro during her Kiss Me Once Tour, where they were mixed with elements and excerpts of "Les Sex". In 2015, these excerpts were also used in the intro of her Kylie Summer 2015 mini-tour, this time being mixed with elements of "Better the Devil You Know".
In 2018, the song was performed during the Kylie Presents Golden mini-tour which was launched to promote Golden, the songs first full live performance since the Money Can't Buy show, and was one of only five singles performed at the shows. This version was then initially used in the Golden Tour, following a performance of "Confide in Me", but was removed from the set list after opening night, to be replaced by "I Believe in You".
Credits adapted from the EP's liner notes.
- Kylie Minogue – Vocals, songwriting, production, synthesizer and keyboards
- Dave Ball – Songwriting, production, other instruments
- Ingo Vauk – Songwriting, production, other instruments
- Livingstone Brown – Bass guitar
- Steve Sidelnyk – Drums and percussion
- Richard Lowe – Engineer, mixing
- Sunny Lizic – Engineer, mixing
- Kylie Minogue – model
- Stephane Sednaoui – Photographer, designer
- Farrow Design – Cover sleeve programmer
Formats and track listings
These are the formats and track listings of major single releases of "Breathe".
CD Single #1
CD Single #2
|Chart (1998)||Peak position|
|Australian ARIA Singles Chart||23|
|Greek International Singles Chart||9|
|Spanish Singles Chart||13|
|UK Singles Chart||14|