X Marks the Spots: Kylie International

Does every nation have its very own feather-loving, techno-dancing, gay-approved diva? Quite possibly.

BY Lawrence Ferber

April 18 2008 12:00 AM ET

If every country
can have its own national airline, health care system,
and postal service, then why not its own Kylie Minogue? Here
we present a global cornucopia of artists whose look,
sound, appeal (and local queer following) possess a
certain je ne sais quoinogue.

Poland: Reni Jusis

The scoop: After
hitting a first Fever-ish height with
2001’s Elektrenika, Jusis perfected the
formula of savory dance-pop-electronica on 2003’s
Trans Misja and 2006’s sparkling
Magnes and topped Poland’s charts as a result.
It’s easy to imagine Kylie fronting many of her hits,
but Jusis -- who’s recording some songs in
English these days -- might just bring it stateside
herself. Her luscious, programming-driven new single and
video, “Motyle,” would certainly fit
snugly into X. Bonus: for years, Jusis has
performed at Warsaw gay club Utopia.

Must-have Album:
Magnes, 2006

Click on: www.renijusis.com

Mexico: Belanova

An evening in
Mexico City’s Zona Rosa gay clubs wouldn’t be
complete (or even possible) without hearing at least
one mix of Belanova’s muy contagious 2007 hit,
“Baila Mi Corazón.” Vocalist
Denisse Guerrero belts out with a helium-tinged sweetness
over thoroughly danceable keyboard-and-guitar
confectionery. Hailing from Guadalajara, the band has
garnered a Latin Grammy nomination and handful of
number 1 singles. Best of all, its entire catalog is
available on iTunes and Amazon.

Must-have Album:
Fantasia Pop, 2007

Click on: www.belanova.org

Japan: Utada Hikaru

Although this
Japanese superstar, known to fans as Hikki, dips her toes
into many pop genres (including an R&B-styled, partially
Timbaland-produced domestic Def Jam release, 2004's
Exodus), we most love her forays into dazzling,
sophisticated electronica. Be sure to YouTube her
fantastically art-directed videos (some by her
filmmaker-fashion photog ex-husband, Kazuaki Kiriya),
including the richly synth-laden “Keep
Tryin’,” “Passion,” and
“Colors,” the latter of which features lesbian
imagery.

Must-have Album:
Ultra Blue, 2006

Click on: www.emimusic.jp/hikki

Sweden: Therese

Both as solo
artist and collaborator with the likes of Stonebridge,
Sunblock, and Dr. Alban, Therese Grankvist has cranked out
addictive, electro-pulsing dance/house hits since the
late '90s. She headlined the über-gay 2006 Sydney
Mardi Gras, works glittery glam looks, and she’s
Kylie-adjacent to boot: She cowrote and sang backup on
Dannii Minogue’s “Perfection” and
“Good Times.”

Must-have Album:
“Put Em High” (single), Stonebridge

Click on: www.theresemusic.com

Hong Kong: Faye Wong

Favoring
cutting-edge collaborators, frequently reinventing
her style and sound, and boasting an inimitable voice
that led to an album with the Cocteau Twins, this
singer and actress (she famously costarred in Wong
Kar-Wai’s 1994 art-house hit, Chungking
Express
) has brought a crisp, alternative flavor
to Cantopop. Like Kylie, she’s suffered a few
tabloid-covered adversities -- bad breakups, a daughter born
with a severe cleft lip -- that have only rallied her
fans and public support.

Must-have Album:
Faye Wong Live! 2004

Click on: www.wongfaye.org (English-language fan
site)

France: Mylène Farmer (pictured)

Admittedly more
Madonna than Minogue, with provocative lyrics and
elaborate music videos (she gets crucified and wallows naked
in a bloody puddle in 1999’s “Je Te
Rends Ton Amour”), outrageous concert spectacles,
forays into children’s lit, and iconic status amongst
Gallic gays that make Mylène a must-know. And her
bubbly young protégé, Alizée, saw a
tasty new album released overseas December 28.

Must-have Album:
Les Mots, 2001

Click on: libnet.wuggleworld.com
(English-language fan site)

Finland: Regina

A dash of Kylie,
a pinch of Röyksopp, and a squirt of Bhangra/Eastern
flava distinguish this most eclectic Finnish trio fronted by
Iisa Pajula. Think Body Language-era sound-wise.

Must-have Album:
Oi miten suuria voimia! 2007

Click on: www.reginaregina.com

Tags: Music

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