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X Marks the Spots: Kylie International

X Marks the Spots: Kylie International

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

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

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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 Corazon." 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

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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

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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 uber-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

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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

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France: Mylene 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 Mylene a must-know. And her bubbly young protege, Alizee, saw a tasty new album released overseas December 28.

Must-have Album: Les Mots, 2001

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Finland: Regina

A dash of Kylie, a pinch of Royksopp, 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

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Lawrence Ferber