It’s been hailed as Kylie Minogue’s “comeback” single and has generated countless memes and dance videos on social media.
Yet when it was first released earlier this month, Padam Padam was not played on youth stations such as BBC Radio 1 and Capital FM because it was originally targeted at older audiences.
Now, thanks in part to the song’s popularity on platforms including TikTok and Twitter, Minogue has found a new generation of fans.
The track has topped the UK Big Top 40 and reached No 26 on the official singles chart – becoming the biggest-selling single of the week and Minogue’s highest-charting single since 2014’s Into the Blue.
The song has also earned Minogue her first Top 40 hit in Australia in more than a decade, and she is set to enter the US pop charts for the first time in more than 20 years.
“My heart is bursting with joy,” the singer said in an Instagram post on her 55th birthday last weekend. “I just wanted to say thank you, thank you so, so much for all the birthday messages and the Padam reaction and the love.
“It has been an incredible week topped off by being my birthday today and I can’t thank you enough.”
Inspired by Edith Piaf’s 1951 song of the same name, Padam Padam is a reference to the sound of the human heartbeat, and has spread like wildfire thanks to its infectious nature and brevity (it clocks in at 2 mins, 46 seconds).
Fans have posted videos about becoming addicted to the track, debated the meaning of the title, and have choreographed dance routines for it. Reactions that, Minogue said, were “cracking me up”.
In another video with her new Big Top 40 award, which is based on Apple Music data and plays on Global Radio stations including Capital and Heart, Minogue said: “I can’t believe I am holding this … Another wild turn in my life and career.”
Minogue performed Padam Padam last week during the final of the American Idol TV talent contest. It is the first single from her new album, Tension, which is due for release in September. Minogue will embark on her biggest tour in five years in 2024, with arena concerts across the UK.
The former Neighbours actor, who has amassed 2.5 million followers on Instagram, said she was grateful for the impact the web has had in revitalising her music career – which has had seven UK No 1s, including I Should Be So Lucky, Spinning Around and Can’t Get You Out of My Head.
“It’s been a little tricky trying to navigate and to understand it,” she said. “Now I think it’s amazing and I do wonder what it would have been like if it had started with my career.
“I feel like I have one foot in the old world and one foot in the new. I do marvel at people who are really good at it. I do my best, but I have guarded my private life so you don’t see me on Instagram posting whatever.”
The chart analyst and historian James Masterton said: “What makes the success of Padam Padam significant is that it is genuinely Kylie’s first hit single of the streaming era, her first since paid purchases ceased to be a mass market product seven or eight years ago. She has bridged a generation gap with a hit record that is reaching out both to her loyal (and ageing) acolytes but also a new generation of music fans.”
According to Masterton, a career revival at Minogue’s age isn’t unheard of – with Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield having career revivals in the 1980s and 90s. Most of the tributes to Tina Turner last week focused on her “second” career – she was in her mid-40s when she recorded What’s Love Got to Do With It, while Cher was 52 when she recorded Believe.
“What helped the Kylie single blow up was indeed TikTok,” Masterton said. “Over the past three years it has become one of the most vitally important platforms for breaking and discovering hit singles. And that’s bypassing all the traditional media routes.
“You cannot rely on radio to make a hit any more; it has to have online appeal. That’s not something that is easy to engineer either, but producers do their best by making it possible for hooks or even fragments of songs to be broken down for 20-second soundbites.”
He pointed to the “fascinating shift” in the way pop music is being embraced by a new generation. “Nobody styles themselves a TikTok ‘consumer’. Everyone is a ‘creator’ and can use pop songs as part of that self-expression. We are now judging the success of pop songs by the number of people who actively engage with them rather than just passively sit back and listen,” he said.