Released: 11th December 2000
Writers: Kylie Minogue / Richard Stannard / Julian Gallagher / John Themis
Peak position: #10
Chart run: 10-18-19-25-39-52-70
The fourth – and final – single from Kylie Minogue’s seventh studio album saw her succumb to the Latin-pop craze with a flamenco-tinged uptempo, Please Stay.
There can be little dispute that, for the most part, the Light Years campaign was executed meticulously, returning Kylie Minogue to her pop roots and the top of the charts. So, in some respects, whatever was chosen as the fourth single was unlikely to significantly alter the legacy or trajectory of the album because, by that point, it had already done what it set out to. Parlophone ended up trying to choose between two songs: they could take a risk (at least, that’s how the label perceived it) with the ostentatious fan favourite, Your Disco Needs You, or play it safe with Please Stay, which followed more recent chart trends. They ultimately opted for the latter in the UK.
It’s always seemed to be more the case that the circumstances around Please Stay are more disliked than the song itself, even if they can’t be totally separated. That a Latin-pop song would feature on Light Years isn’t wholly surprising since the genre had always been a staple for mainstream acts in the ‘90s, and even more intensely so after the crossover success of Livin’ La Vida Loca in 1999. It also fits broadly with the ideas — poolside, disco, cocktails — used to define the album’s theme. Regardless of the rationale Parlophone had for not releasing Your Disco Needs You (they feared the track was ‘too camp’ and risked stereotyping Kylie Minogue), there are other tracks than Please Stay which better embodied the essence of the album (Disco Down, So Now Goodbye). Furthermore, by late 2000, Latin-pop had been fairly comprehensively overdone; little novelty remained in the sound, adding to the feeling that this was a missed opportunity.
Setting all of that(!) aside, though, Please Stay isn’t – objectively – a bad song by any means. The frantically strummed Spanish guitar intro is steeped in drama thanks to the whooshing effect of howling wind that blows despondently through it. Even with the addition of a buoyant, thumping beat and clacking castanets, there’s always a melancholic undertone to the track, mirrored in the lyrics. The verses set up Please Stay with the frisson of an immediate connection between two people: “I fell in love with you, the moment that we met, and ‘til the end of time, I never will forget” with a hint of apprehension that it could be all-too-fleeting: “There’s nothing stopping us, you don’t have to go, the night is young for us, there’s more we need to know”.
There’s never a definitive sense of happiness or sadness within the track; it can be perceived either way depending on the mood and context in which it’s being listened. The same is true of Kylie Minogue’s performance, which, for the most part, is filled with warm, cheery sincerity. Indeed, the hooky chorus: “Please stay, my babe, who knows when we’ll dance again, and I don’t want to know regret, I’ll do all that I can just to get you to stay, my babe, who knows when we’ll dance again, and I don’t want to say goodbye, but who knows where we’ll be after tonight”, is as breezy and uplifting as can be.
Yet, there’s still space within Please Stay for her to express conflicting emotions, most notably in the pre-chorus: “I lose it every time I’m close to you (ah-ah-ah-ah), under your spell you know there’s nothing I can do…”. It’s used most strikingly as a breakdown where the beat drops out following a giddy instrumental mid-section, and a trace of helpless desperation is captured within Kylie Minogue’s voice. There’s probably never enough depth to convincingly argue against Please Stay as one of her more disposable, throwaway singles (although, in fairness, there’s never been any pretence that it was). Even so, there is more to the track than the short shrift it’s often given.
If there’s one aspect of Please Stay that really works within the context of the Light Years campaign, it’s the music video, which is an utter delight. It starts with some suitably atmospheric – yet entirely abstract – shots of Kylie Minogue driving at night, cutting back and forth to her on a circular rotating bed in a plush room. After a minute or so of writhing around on the soft furnishings, she pulls a candelabra on the wall to reveal a hidden passage and a fireman’s pole. Sliding down it (with a costume change along the way), Kylie Minogue drops into a room with backing dancers, a pool table and arcade cabinets, including a Light Years-branded pinball machine.
The aesthetic is a neat blend of contemporary with touches of retro-inspiration – such as a window showing an obviously fake beach landscape – but it’s done in a stylishly kitsch way that fits the campaign well. There’s also an impressive level of detail in the choreography; the room — and the objects within it — are incorporated in a way that makes the visuals look more like a spontaneous-yet-intricately-executed musical interlude in a movie than a pop video. If Light Years was about taking Kylie Minogue back to her pop roots, then Please Stay itself exudes an infectiously playful energy strikingly reminiscent of her early SAW singles, which feels fitting to round off the album campaign.
There would always likely have been a degree of diminishing returns for any fourth single from Light Years, which is undoubtedly a factor that contributed towards a peak of #10 for Please Stay in the UK. It was also a competitive time of the year, with the song debuting a week before the Christmas chart. Even so, it was evident – even then – that this lacked the same pull as Spinning Around, On A Night Like This or Kids. That point has been further underlined by how omnipresent all three tracks (and, ironically, Your Disco Needs You) remain in Kylie Minogue’s back catalogue and live shows. Please Stay, on the other hand, was a modest success – selling 85,000 copies – and helped extend Light Years’ stay in the lower end of the top 75 by several months, but that is about it as far as any enduring legacy goes…
…Except, one element of the single package has since grown – quite unexpectedly – in prominence. CD1 contained a cover of Eartha Kitt’s Santa Baby, which existed for a good while as nothing more than an innocuous curio. Since 2007, though, the song has increasingly become a mainstay of the festive chart period due to its digital availability, achieving a peak – to date – of #31 in 2021. It’s by far Kylie Minogue’s most streamed song in the UK, and with combined sales of more than 700,000 copies, it’s also now comfortably among her biggest sellers with no likelihood, at present, of slowing down.
It’s easy now to scoff at the notion of Parlophone feeling the need to tread so carefully with Please Stay, considering Can’t Get You Out Of My Head was less than a year away. Yet, Kylie Minogue had pulled off an impressive – and some might even argue unlikely – comeback in an industry with a propensity to be fickle, with no real way of knowing if that commercial goodwill had a shelf-life. Thus, while this might be deemed a pedestrian way to conclude the Light Years campaign with Your Disco Needs You right there as an alternative, it never ran any real risk of going awry. Thus, it’s hard to fault the intention, even if the reasoning left something to be desired.