Emerging from 18 months of breast cancer treatment and recovery, Kylie Minogue didn't ease back into her career.
"I went into the recording process running and screaming," the Aussie pop star says. "I was a tornado of energy. Looking back, I think there was a lot of frustration, anger, fear and excitement. I had to acknowledge all those emotions. I'm just so thankful to have an outlet to express myself."
Minogue's 10th studio album, "X," arrives Tuesday, packed with the kind of fizzy, sexy, celebratory dance-pop that has helped her sell more than 40 million albums worldwide. She'll perform current single "All I See" and past global hit "Can't Get You Out of My Head" Tuesday on Dancing With the Stars (ABC, 9 p.m. ET/PT).
Already a big seller in Australia and the U.K., "X" marks a stunning return for an international star who has racked up 46 hits but has enjoyed less firepower in the USA.
"Yeah, what is it with you guys?" she jokes. "When I had success in America with the (2002) 'Fever' album, it was so unexpected. It was just icing on the cake. And I was glad to have something other than (1988 hit) 'The Loco-Motion' to come back to. With this album, I know I could make a concerted effort and spend time here, but I prefer to build on the markets I have. If momentum starts, I'll come back."
In May, she embarks on a 50-date European tour.
When a cancer diagnosis halted Minogue's sold-out Showgirl tour in 2005, she retreated to Australia, where paparazzi initially besieged her.
"Thankfully, it did lighten up as I started to go through treatment," says the singer, her eyes wide and smile fixed as she perches on a sofa in her Chateau Marmont suite. She's dainty and pert in jeans, white shirt and gray scarf, with her platinum hair pulled back.
Initially, the tabloid coverage "was out of control. My father had difficulty getting in his own front gate. It's one of the reasons I did a lot of my treatment in Paris, where it's less intrusive."
She only briefly considered a permanent retreat.
"I questioned it," she says. "But a great part of my coping mechanism was this goal of getting back on stage. I'm not finished. I may have just started to hit my stride."
Yet at 39, she may be toning down the sex-kitten pose that has been integral to her image for 20 years. Her costumes flash less flesh, her moves less sizzle.
"I do want to age gracefully, and the mention of choreography almost makes me break out in a rash these days."
Her torchy twist on 'I Should Be So Lucky' with Jools Holland for his New Year's Eve TV special in England hinted at a coming shift. "I can definitely see myself doing that to a very ripe old age, but I don't think I'll ever let go of my pop roots."
Minogue, who has been linked romantically in the past with the late INXS singer Michael Hutchence and actor Olivier Martinez, has let go of earlier expectations. A husband and children?
"Maybe that's not the life for me," she says. "The one thing I've learned is that nothing is certain. As a teenager, I was sure certain things would happen, and they didn't. Now I feel like my options are very much open."
During her health crisis, Minogue held friends and family close, taking comfort in quiet. Most advice barely registered.
"People tell you, 'Everything will go back to normal.' Really?" she says. "It's almost insensitive to say that. You move on to a 'new normal.' In that small phrase, you're reassured that there will be some kind of normality but there's acknowledgment that you've been through something that will change you."