This week, a tribute to the one activity we all share on a daily basis - the inhaling and exhaling of air. One way is soft and sexy; the other primeval and pumping.
Breathe by Kylie Minogue
Kylie is a legend, really. Her songs are perennial favourites; great dance tracks and fantastic sing-a-longs. Her 1997 album Impossible Princess came about after some "personal growth" time for the Singing Budgie - she'd cast off her bubblegum image, received street cred thanks to a creepy duet with Nick Cave, and gone trekking in China. Much of the album is a direct confrontation of her past and her fame, such as the poppy/pouty Did It Again; or an embracing of new directions, such as the eastern/western odyssey Cowboy Style.
Breathe, however, is a gorgeously indulgent change of pace from both of those. It is what it says it is - a moment, a middle point, a pause, a reflection, a prediction. "Don't blame me, just because I am bored," Kylie begins, her voice sultry over the low-tempo electronica beat. "I'm needy, I need to taste it all". She goes on to reflect on how she's being a bit lost, trying to work herself out ("I'm sorting everything inside"); but she's getting there ("I'm making my way through the muddy minutes/The pull is in my muscle"). The simply chorus call to "Breathe, breathe/it won't be long now" is a piece of advice just to herself: relax, it'll all come good in the end.
Suitably, the video clip features the chanteuse spinning around in space, clothed in gossamer strands of nearly-nude fabric, swimming through the atmosphere, tumbling towards - or away from - what looks vaguely like a camera lens.
The almost trance-like quality of the music - and the many close-ups of Kylie's luscious lips in the clip - - gives the initial impression that Breathe is purely a song for sexy times. But it's also comforting, and quietly reassuring. It's like a hot bubble bath. Hell, let's all strip off and slip in.
Breathe by The Prodigy
Of a similar vintage to Kylie, but turning the electronica up to 11, Breathe by British beat punk band The Prodigy is a descent into dance floor hell, complete with devilishly pierced and tattooed frontmen Keith Flint and Maxim. Instantly recognisable from its opening, twanging riff, it's a firm favourite of the dark and spooky types, and even those who just like to join in on the declaration "Breathe with me" while trying to lool cool at a bar.
The lyrics explore a ramped-up experience of and meditation on madness, fear and stress. "Breathe the pressure/Come play my game I'll test ya/ Psycho-somatic addict insane" goes the famous refrain. The bridge is the conflicted internal dialogue of the sufferer; "Come play my game/inhale inhale inhale you're the victim" is followed by "Come play my game/exhale exhale exhale". It's frantic, furious and Freudian.
The film clip is set in some sort of institution, overrun by odd creatures like alligators and centipedes. There are cracks in the walls and ceilings; muddy water splurts from the taps and gravity doesn't always apply. The Prodigy frontmen work through their demons in song - only to realise, possibly, that they are their own demons.
Verdict: I adore the Kylie song, I really do, and prefer it lyrically to The Prodigy. But for musicality, the latter is startling and confronting; particularly if you remember back to 1996 when it first debuted, before it became so entrenched in pop culture depictions of insanity. So The Prodigy by a triple-pierced nose.
Now it's over to you -what kind of breathing do you prefer?