The Sexy Meaning Behind “Suicide Blonde” by INXS

Following the phenomenal success of their sixth album Kick, Australian rockers INXS were on top of the world. The album had sold 4 million copies in America (eventually topping 6 million), spawned four top-selling singles in America (including the No. 1 “Need You Tonight”), and turned them into international rock stars. Combining the mesmerizing charisma of singer Michael Hutchence with their top-notch musicianship, they had become one of the most successful bands from Down Under.

Videos by American Songwriter

In 1990, INXS capitalized on that success with their seventh album X, which continued the funky vibes explored on Kick but moved them forward musically. The opening song and lead single “Suicide Blonde” certainly kicked things off right.

A Sexy, Not Scary Song

Despite the song’s title, “Suicide Blonde” was not about a despairing woman. The term first came to Hutchence’s attention when he was dating pop star Kylie Minogue. She had released two albums that had done exceedingly well in England and across Europe. They were an Aussie power couple for the time.

Minogue told Hutchence she was going to dye her hair “suicide blonde” and also cut it short. She debuted this new look alongside him at the Australian premiere for her 1989 movie The Delinquents. Minogue told Adelaide Now in 2014, “The girl who did the hair and wigs in The Delinquents made me familiar with the term ‘suicide blonde.'” Some people were likely thrown off by her new, shorter do.

INXS’ singer decided to conjure the lyrical idea of a desirable woman with the look that his girlfriend sported. The “death wish” invoked during the song’s intro seems to reference a man becoming seduced by an amorous femme fatale.

Suicide blonde was the color of her hair
Like a cheap distraction for a new affair
She knew it would finish before it began
Wow baby I think you lost the plan

You want to make her suicide blonde
Love devastation, suicide blonde

Funked Up

Like many of the cuts on their previous album, “Suicide Blonde” funked things up, including a trance-like harmonica pattern sampled from Charlie Musselwhite that guitarist Tim Farriss would perform live while also playing guitar. Written by Hutchence and keyboardist/guitarist Andrew Farriss, the upbeat song served up rock with strong dance vibes. This had been their musical trajectory in recent years.

“We left Australia to tour overseas more because we found that the Australians back then loved eighth [notes],” Andrew Farriss told me for Grammy magazine in 2022. “There was no funk in anything, and we were like, ‘What’s with the lack of groove here?’ That’s one of the reasons we started to experiment more and more and how we ended up working with Nile Rodgers [in 1983], how we ended up working with people who we admired that were more funky. Daryl Hall sang on ‘Original Sin’ because Nile asked him to come in as a special guest.”

These musical dividends certainly paid off, with mainstream audiences embracing this twist in their sound. The video for “Suicide Blonde” certainly played on the song’s sexy vibe, intercutting an energetic band performance with sexy “suicide blonde” models vamping and cavorting across the screen.

A Choice Cut

“Suicide Blonde” became the sixth of seven Top 10 U.S. hits for INXS, peaking at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. It shot to No. 1 in Canada and New Zealand, No. 2 in Australia, and went Top 10 in five other countries, The group performed it on Saturday Night Live. The song has 22 million YouTube views and 79 million Spotify plays. It became the first of two band singles to sell half a million copies in America, the other being “Pretty Vegas” in 2005 with singer J.D. Fortune, who stepped into the frontman role following Hutchence’s untimely death in 1997.

While X was not as successful as Kick, gradually going double-Platinum in America, it still hit No. 5 in America, No. 1 in Australia, and went Top 10 in 6 other countries. And the band remained a popular and potent live force. The Platinum-selling Live Baby Live captured their concert magic when they performed before 74,000 ardent fans at London’s Wembley Stadium in July 1991. “Suicide Blonde” was performed near the end of the set and got the whole crowd jumping along with Hutchence.

Despite its seemingly dark title, the single turned it to be a lively, crowd-pleasing hit for INXS.

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns

Leave a Reply

Singer Cat Janice Passes Away at 31

Singer Cat Janice, Who Dedicated Final Song to 7-Year-Old Son, Dead at 31