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"Better the Devil You Know" is a song by Australian singer and songwriter Kylie Minogue, taken from her third studio album Rhythm of Love (1990). The song was written and produced by Stock Aitken Waterman. The song was released as the album's lead single on 30 April 1990 by PWL and Mushroom Records. "Better the Devil You Know" is known as the song that re-invented Minogue with more sex appeal, as her previous albums were presented with her "girl next door" persona. Her music onwards presented a more independent approach.

"Better the Devil You Know"
Kylie Minogue - Better the Devil You Know.png
Single by Kylie Minogue
from the album Rhythm of Love
B-side"I'm Over Dreaming (Over You)"
Released30 April 1990 (1990-04-30)[1]
Format
RecordedLondon
GenreDance-pop
Length3:52
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Stock Aitken Waterman
Kylie Minogue singles chronology
"Tears on My Pillow"
(1989)
"Better the Devil You Know"
(1990)
"Step Back in Time"
(1990)
Audio sample
Music video
"Better the Devil You Know" on YouTube

The song's title is referenced as an idiom. Lyrically, the song was said to be about Minogue's leaving of her TV series Neighbours and her relationship with her then-boyfriend, INXS frontman and singer Michael Hutchence. The song was lauded by music critics, who noted the imagery change in her music. They also complimented the song itself and felt it was one of Minogue's best, along as a highlight to, not just her studio album but her compilations as well. Commercially, it was successful. The song peaked at number two in the United Kingdom and four in her native Australia. In other regions, it managed to peak inside the top forty in all the countries it charted in, including France, Austria, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland.

The accompanying music video for "Better the Devil You Know" was directed by Paul Goldman and was filmed in Melbourne, Australia. Though its imagery was criticized for her mature look, the video has also been iconic to Minogue's artistry style and imagery beyond the song. The song has been featured in most of Minogue's concert tours. The song has appeared in commercials, including Coca-Cola and the film If Looks Could Kill, and was later re-recorded in 2012 at the Abbey Road Studios for inclusion on Minogue's orchestral album The Abbey Road Sessions.

Background and compositionEdit

"Better the Devil You Know" was written by Stock, Aitken and Waterman, who also were the only producers and songwriters of Minogue's two albums after her debut. However, this album featured additional production by some minor producers.[2] When the song was first in the making, Minogue had announced she would be leaving the cast of the TV series Neighbours, to focus on her music career. After this, many fans of her role were upset and saddened by her leaving. Then, Stock, Aitken & Waterman lead member Pete Waterman said he was telling Mike Stock that Kylie had stopped going out with her Neighbours co-star Jason Donovan and said she was dating INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence.[3] Waterman then commenting saying "how it was [better the devil you know] as they feared their lives were going to be hell as a consequence."[3]

The first verse features notes spanning from A-C#m-D-D2-Dm-E-Bm-D.[4] When it reaches the chorus, the song spans from A-F#m-A-D, and repeats everyline. When it reaches the bridge, the songs chords span from A-F#m-A-F in each line.[4] According to William Baker, a writer and one of Kylie Minogue's best friends, who wrote the book Kylie: La La La said "The song also featured a more mature sound, a more polished production and a vocal that was less layered than before."[5] He then carried on saying about Minogue's persona as the Queen of Disco and Princess of Pop saying "The track transferred well onto the dance-floor and heralded a long reign for Kylie as the new queen of disco... a pop princess".[5]

Critical receptionEdit

"Better the Devil You Know" is one of Minogue's most famous singles, and ever since its release it has been lauded by music critics. Chris True from AllMusic highlighted the song as an album standout.[6] Chris True reviewed her debut compilation Greatest Hits and said the song was "absolutely perfect for the unknowing."[7] Johnny Loftus from AllMusic had highlighted it as an album standout on her compilation Greatest Hits.[8] True then highlighted it from her compilation album Greatest Hits 87–97 as an album standout, as well as a highlight from Ultimate Kylie. Tim Sendra, however did not highlight it from her 2012 compilation The Best of Kylie Minogue but said "it's nice to hear 1990's "Better the Devil You Know" next to 2010's "All the Lovers" and realize that Kylie has never been less than a perfect pop star."[9]

Jason Shawahn from About.com said along with "What Do I Have To Do" and "Wouldn't Change A Thing"; "are nothing if not pop masterpieces."[10] Hunter Felt from PopMatters said along with "Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi" and "Shocked" are pure pop moments.[11] He then described it "as almost soulful rave-ups".[11]

Chart performanceEdit

 
Minogue performing the song during her Aphrodite: Les Folies Tour in 2011.

"Better the Devil You Know" became Minogue's fifth non-consecutive number two single, being blocked by Adamski's "Killer".[12][13] The song stayed at number two for two consecutive weeks, and spent a total of 10 weeks in the chart. It was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) having sold 329,000 copies. In Minogue's native Australia, the song debuted at five on the week end of 10 June 1990.[14] The song eventually peaked at number four on the charts and spent a total of thirteen weeks on the chart. The song was then certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) with sales exceeding 35,000 copies, while in New Zealand, the song was not a great success. The song debuted at thirty-four, but fell out the next week at forty. It re-entered at number twenty-seven, where it eventually peaked and charted for four weeks.

In France, the song debuted at number thirty-eight, and after weeks on the chart it peaked at number thirteen for a sole week.[15] The song stayed in the charts for a total of sixteen weeks.[15] In the Netherlands, the song debuted at number ninety-six.[16] The song was very successful in that country, and peaked at number sixteen on that chart. It spent a total of thirteen weeks on the chart.[16] It was very successful on the Belgium Singles Chart (Flanders), where it debuted at number twenty-eight.[17] The song then rose and peaked at number five, becoming one of Minogue's most successful singles in that country. It stayed in the charts for a total of sixteen weeks. The song was generally moderate in other European countries, where it peaked inside the top thirty in countries including Austria, Denmark and Switzerland.[18][19][20] The song topped the charts in Israel, number four in Malaysia and eleven in Spain.[21]

Music videoEdit

The music video for "Better the Devil You Know" was directed by Paul Goldman and was filmed in Melbourne. The video caused some controversy as it presented Minogue in a much more mature image than videos from earlier years. The making of the video was the first time Minogue "felt part of the creative process". She said: "I wasn’t in charge but I had a voice. I’d bought some clothes on King's Road for the video. I saw a new way to express my point of view creatively."[22]

In the video, Minogue can be seen dancing more suggestively than in her previous efforts. At the time she was dating INXS singer Michael Hutchence, she is wearing one of his rings in the clip, a large silver 'M'. His mother, Patricia Glassop a make up artist did the make up. The video remains a major milestone in Minogue's career, for it was the birth of a more experimental and sexual Kylie.

LegacyEdit

The song has become an all-time favourite amongst many people and is often considered a 1990s classic. In 1998, Australian record company Mushroom Records re-issued the song as part of their 25th Anniversary Celebrations. The re-issue reached number 59 on the Australian ARIA Charts in March 1998.[23]

"Better the Devil You Know" was featured in the Richard Grieco movie If Looks Could Kill. The song was also heard in an Australian Coca-Cola commercial starring Kylie in 1990.

Formats and track listingsEdit

These are the formats and track listings of major single releases of "Better the Devil You Know".

  • CD single
  1. "Better the Devil You Know" – 3:52
  2. "Better the Devil You Know" (Mad March Hare Mix) – 7:09
  3. "I'm Over Dreaming (Over You)" (7-inch Mix) – 3:21
  • 7-inch single
  1. "Better the Devil You Know" – 3:52
  2. "I'm Over Dreaming (Over You)" (7-inch Mix) – 3:21
  • 12-inch single
  1. "Better the Devil You Know" (Mad March Hare Mix) – 7:09
  2. "I'm Over Dreaming (Over You)" (Extended Mix) – 4:54

(Not available at time of original release. Released for the first time as part of iTunes Store PWL archive release in 2009.)

  1. "Better the Devil You Know" (7-inch Backing Track)
  2. "Better the Devil You Know" (7-inch Instrumental)
  3. "Better the Devil You Know" (Alternative Mix)
  4. "Better the Devil You Know" (Dave Ford Remix)
  5. "Better the Devil You Know" (Movers & Shakers 12-inch Backing Track)
  6. "Better the Devil You Know" (Movers & Shakers 12-inch Instrumental)
  7. "Better the Devil You Know" (Movers & Shakers 12-inch Mix)
  8. "Better the Devil You Know" (Movers & Shakers 7-inch Backing Track)
  9. "Better the Devil You Know" (Movers & Shakers 7-inch Instrumental)
  10. "Better the Devil You Know" (Movers & Shakers 7-inch Mix)
  11. "Better the Devil You Know" (Movers & Shakers Alternative 12-inch Mix)
  12. "Better the Devil You Know" (Movers & Shakers Alternative Backing Track)
  13. "Better the Devil You Know" (Movers & Shakers Alternative Instrumental)
  14. "Better the Devil You Know" (The Mad March Hare Mix)
  15. "Better the Devil You Know" (US Remix)

Live performancesEdit

Since its debut in the Enjoy Yourself Tour. "Better the Devil You Know" has been performed at all of Minogue's tours. In the Enjoy Yourself, Rhythm of Love and Let's Get to It tours, the song was performed as the original as the encore to each show. The song was then performed as the encore on the Intimate and Live tour where Minogue wore a red corset with red devil horns. For the performance, an array of men dressed in red briefs entered the stage for the dance section of the song. On the On a Night Like This tour, a big band version was performed where Minogue was in full white with a tailcoat and a top hat. William Baker stated in the book "La La La" this was due to the recently released Steps version and to avoid post Spinning Around fans thinking Kylie's was the cover. In 2002, Minogue performed the song as the second-to-last song on her Fever tour. This too featured a dance section, similar to the one performed on the Intimate and Live Tour. Minogue then opened her Showgirl Tour with the song. She wore a blue corset, a showgirl crown and a blue bussel. In 2006 and 2007, Minogue again opened her Homecoming Tour with the song this time dressed in pink. In 2008/09, the song was used in a pre-encore act of her KylieX2008 tour. She performed it wearing a green feather dress. This song was then dropped and placed in the regular encore. In 2009, the same version was then performed on her North American tour as the opening to the encore. The song's most recent performance was on Minogue's Aphrodite: Les Folies Tour in 2011. The song opened her seventh act where Minogue wore a white tank top, blue hot pants and an orange feathery throw over. This version included a dance interlude at the beginning which had a very Latin-pop feel. There was also a dance interlude in the middle with the same sort of feel. Kylie performed an a cappella version of the song in the Kiss Me Once Tour, after a fan request and the album version in Dubai which was later used as an opening for Minogue's Summer 2015 tour. In 2016, a remix of the song was later used as an opening for Minogue's festival shows. The song was performed once again during her Golden Tour in 2018.

The song was also performed on:

Charts and certificationsEdit

Cover versionsEdit

The song was covered by the Australian singer-songwriter Penny Flanagan in 1997, pop group Steps in 1999, peaking at #4 in the UK charts as a double A-side with "Say You'll Be Mine", and by Atomic Kitten in early 2000.

In 2009, European pop group Village Boys made a version of the song.[47]

In 2010, Miss Fitz, from Eurovision: Your Country Needs You, sang this song. Miss Fitz was also in X Factor the year before but only made it to bootcamp stage.

Steps versionEdit

"Say You'll Be Mine/Better the Devil You Know"
 
Single by Steps
from the album Steptacular and Buzz
A-side"Say You'll Be Mine"
Released13 December 1999 (1999-12-13)
FormatSingle
GenreEurodance, dance-pop
Length3:48
LabelJive
Songwriter(s)Stock Aitken Waterman
Producer(s)
Steps singles chronology
"After the Love Has Gone"
(1999)
"Say You'll Be Mine/Better the Devil You Know"
(1999)
"Deeper Shade of Blue"
(2000)

British group Steps had recorded a cover version of the single for their second studio album Steptacular. Steps cover of "Better the Devil You Know" was later included as the opening track on their third studio album Buzz, however the song didn't serve as a lead single, but was released as a joint single.

A limited edition of the single was released as a digipack that was included with a doubled sided poster in the sleeve, one side was the group pictured in their dance outfits and the other side shows the groups in their costumes and the different scenarios that are shown throughout the music video.

Though it didn't manage to match the success of the original version, it did chart in some markets including Australia, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium.

The song features Claire, Lisa and Faye on lead vocals.

Track listingEdit

  1. "Say You'll Be Mine" – 3:32
  2. "Better the Devil You Know" – 3:49
  3. "Better the Devil You Know" (2T's 2 Go Mix) – 5:53

RemixesEdit

  • Better The Devil You Know (2T's 2 Go Mix)
  • Better The Devil You Know (2T's 2 Go Edit)
  • Say You'll Be Mine (Matt Pop's Old Skool Mix)
  • Say You'll Be Mine (Pop Edit)

Credits and personnelEdit

ChartsEdit

Chart (1999) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[50] 21
Belgium (Flanders Ultratop 50)[50] 42
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[50] 47
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[50] 93
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[51] 4

Live performancesEdit

Steps performed the song on the following tours:

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "BPI > Certified Awards > Search results for 'Better the Devil You Know' (from bpi.co.uk)". Imgur.com (original source published by BPI). Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  2. ^ Kylie Minogue – Rhythm of Love http://www.discogs.com Archived 24 April 2006 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 01-08-2012.
  3. ^ a b Kylie Minogue – Better The Devil You Know http://www.songfacts.com Archived 29 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ a b Better The Devil you Know Chords.
  5. ^ a b Inner lines: Pg 35 – la la la – Written by William Baker and Kylie Minogue ISBN 0-340-73440-X
  6. ^ True, Chris (1990). "Rhythm of Love > Overview". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  7. ^ True, Chris (1990). "Greatest Hits > Overview". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  8. ^ Loftus, Johnny (2002). "Greatest Hits > Overview". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  9. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-best-of-kylie-minogue-mw0002375633
  10. ^ Jason Shawahn Review of Kylie Minogue – Ultimate Kylie Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved in 2004.
  11. ^ a b Hunter Felt >> Kylie Minogue: The Ultimate Kylie. Retrieved 2005-03-22.
  12. ^ "Kylie Minogue – Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  13. ^ "Kylie Minogue's Official Number 2 Singles Revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ a b "Kylie Minogue – Better The Devil You Know (song)" Archived 14 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine (in French). French Singles Chart. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  16. ^ a b Kylie Minogue – Better The Devil You Know (song) Archived 14 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  17. ^ Kylie Minogue – Better The Devil You Know (song)" (in German). Ultratop 50. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  18. ^ Kylie Minogue – Better The Devil You Know (song)" Archived 23 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine (in Austrian). Hung Medien. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  19. ^ Kylie Minogue – Better The Devil You Know (song)" Archived 12 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine (in Swiss). Hitparade. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  20. ^ Kylie Minogue – Better The Devil You Know (song)" (in Danish). charts.de. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ Joye, Paula (30 November 2011). "Kylie: Pop Culture Princess". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 15 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  23. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988-2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  24. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Kylie Minogue – Better the Devil You Know". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  25. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Kylie Minogue – Better the Devil You Know" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  26. ^ "Ultratop.be – Kylie Minogue – Better the Devil You Know" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  27. ^ "Hits of the World" (PDF). Billboard. 26 May 1990. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  28. ^ Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 951-31-2503-3.
  29. ^ "Lescharts.com – Kylie Minogue – Better the Devil You Know" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  30. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Kylie Minogue – Better the Devil You Know". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  31. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Better the Devil You Know". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  32. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 26, 1990" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  33. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Kylie Minogue – Better the Devil You Know" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  34. ^ "Charts.nz – Kylie Minogue – Better the Devil You Know". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  35. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  36. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Kylie Minogue – Better the Devil You Know". Singles Top 100. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  37. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Kylie Minogue – Better the Devil You Know". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  38. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  39. ^ "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart". Australian Recording Industry Association. 5 April 1998. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  40. ^ "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles 1990" (50). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  41. ^ "Ultratop: Jaaroverzichten 1989". Ultratop. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  42. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 of 1990" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 7 no. 51. 22 December 1990. p. 60. OCLC 29800226. Retrieved 12 February 2019 – via American Radio History.
  43. ^ "1990 Top 100 Singles". Music Week. London, England: Spotlight Publications. 2 March 1991. p. 41.
  44. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 202. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  45. ^ Myers, Justin (23 May 2018). "Kylie Minogue's Official Top 40 biggest selling songs". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 15 December 2017.
  46. ^ "British single certifications – Kylie Minogue – Better The Devil You Know". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 10 January 2015. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Better The Devil You Know in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  47. ^ Baker, William; Minogue, Kylie (2002). La, La, La. Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. pp. 48–49. ISBN 0-340-73439-6.
  48. ^ Steptacular (Liner notes). Steps. Jive Records, EBUL. 1999. 0519112.CS1 maint: others (link)
  49. ^ "Buzz" (Liner notes). Steps. Jive Records, EBUL. 2000. 0518492.CS1 maint: others (link)
  50. ^ a b c d "Steps – SAY YOU'LL BE MINE / BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW" Archived 30 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine Hung Medien. hitparade. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  51. ^ "Steps: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.

External linksEdit