Kylie Minogue: Special K

William Baker
Kylie Minogue

The rest of the world has loved her since the '80s. Now

But subsequent sessions were less productive, and Pallot's songs were rapidly supplemented with tracks from a wide range of songwriters and producers, to the point where Minogue became "very confused."

"I remember saying, 'Where's the dance tracks?' " she says now. "I felt like I was going down the same road, doing the rounds of all the pop dynamos but lacking any cohesive quality."

Enter Minogue's "fairy godmother," Jake Shears. Shears was making the Scissor Sisters' "Night Work" (Downtown) album with Stuart Price, whose work on the Killers' "Human" had been a touchstone for the early "Aphrodite" sessions.

"In the most caring, loving, GBF [gay best friend] kind of way," Minogue says with a laugh, "Jake basically pestered me to work with Stuart."

Parlophone president Miles Leonard enlisted Price as executive producer in December 2009 and together they set about retooling the record. "Better Than Today" and the Pallot-penned title track remain, albeit in funked-up incarnations. Shears teamed with U.K. dance artist Calvin Harris and Minogue to write the trancey "Too Much." And Price made coherent sense of diverse offerings from collaborators including Nervo ("Put Your Hands Up [If You Feel Love]"), Keane's Tim Rice-Oxley ("Everything Is Beautiful") and Swedish House Mafia ("Cupid Boy"), ending up with not just a cluster of potential hits, but an album that Gatfield predicts will be among 2010's "top five biggest global pop records."

Certainly, "All the Lovers" is off to a fast start, hitting No. 1 on the U.K. radio airplay chart after four weeks. Indeed, "Lovers" has the aura of one of "those" Minogue songs-the once-every-few-years anthems, like "Spinning Around" or "Can't Get You Out of My Head"-that come along, re-engage her original fan base and bring in the next generation.

"I feel like it's spreading joy," she says, beaming. "Which is the best thing I could ever have wished for."

Minogue may joke about her comparative veteran status-"I'm going to be put out to pasture soon"-but, in the same way that she was once said to have been all five of the Spice Girls at some point in her career, Minogue could be forgiven for looking at some of her current rivals for electro-pop queen bee status and thinking, "Been there, done that, got the uncomfortable-looking latex corset."

Certainly, as Miley Cyrus struggles to make the transition from wholesome TV persona to grown-up dancefloor diva, she could do worse than study how Minogue graduated from her tomboy role on Australian soap opera "Neighbours" to "Better the Devil You Know" saucepot. As Christina Aguilera seeks out indie cred through collaborations with Le Tigre and Peaches, Minogue could point to her mid-'90s dalliances with Nick Cave and the Manic Street Preachers. Even Lady Gaga's co-option of cutting-edge dancefloor trends into pop statements seems to have something in common with Minogue's "Fever" period.

But perhaps the main difference is, Minogue has always seemed at ease with herself. Even as she recovered from breast cancer diagnosed in 2005, she seemed to move effortlessly through the minefield of modern celebrity, never giving much away. Except when she's onstage.

"Fame is a very weird thing and it can be confusing at times," she says. "The reason performing live is so addictive is that that's where [fame] makes sense. People are there to see you, you're there to show yourself, you're all there to share an experience and be in a frenzy.

"Onstage, you don't have to deal with the real world-you deal with the world you've created. To have that great energy, nothing else can beat it. So you could call me an addict."

And with that, there's a knock at the door to tell us our time is up. The schedule says she has to attend a management meeting, hit the studio to record with rising British pop combo Hurts and show up at a reception for Tous, the jewelry brand for which she is the public face.

But in her head, she'll still be onstage at that sweaty club. Singing. Dancing. Being Kylie.