I have no shame in confessing that the first ever single I bought was Kylie Minogue’s Locomotion. I admit…..it was even on vinyl! The year was 1987 when perms, acid washed jeans and legwarmers were all the rage. I was young, impressionable and it was the monumental stage in my life when I finally discovered music!
But wait, there’s more, I’ll go one step further and say that I jumped on the Kylie bandwagon well before Locomotion hit the music charts. Prior to her foray into a singing career, it was Kylie’s successful role on Neighbours starring as Charlene Mitchell that first catapulted her to fame. Jason Donovan (who played Scott Robinson, the residential heartthrob on the highly rated program), was Kylie’s on and off screen partner at the time. The duo was my generation’s equivalent to RPatz and KStew’s ‘Bella and Edward’ of Twilight fame. The chemistry between Kylie and Jason set pulses racing and the pairing of Scott and Charlene was nothing short of genius, renowned as two of Australia’s most beloved characters in television soap history.
Kylie’s popularity on Neighbours resulted in her winning five Logie Awards (Australia’s version of an Emmy statuette in the United States), four of which were awarded in 1988; the most any entertainer has won in a single year1. Since her departure from Neighbours, Kylie hasn’t looked back. Her road to success has been nothing but an onwards and upwards climb to superstardom for the pop diva.
Kylie Minogue was instrumental in introducing me into the wonderful world of pop. Locomotion was Kylie’s breakthrough single, which topped the Australian music charts for seven weeks2. Her follow up single, I Should be So Lucky, also peaked at number one, along with Got To Be Certain. Additional songs were launched including Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi and Especially For you (her duet with Jason), both of which were smash hits in Australia. These ‘classic’ tracks, featured in Kylie’s eponymously titled debut album, defined my childhood!
Her second album, Enjoy Yourself, was released in 1989 and achieved similar success churning out singles like Tears on My Pillow, Hand On Your Heart, Wouldn’t Change A Thing and Never Too Late3. I’m having a flashback moment…dancing around in the living room wearing my frilly ra ra skirt, with crimped hair, listening to these tracks repeatedly on my tape deck, holding a brush to my mouth as if it was a microphone. Oh the memories! At the tender age of twelve, I could feel it in my waters that Kylie was destined for greatness. Sadly, critics thought differently.
Commercial radio stations refused to play her singles. Kylie was caned for her sugary, bubble gum pop style of music and even worse, her lack of vocal range. Minogue was branded “The Singing Budgie” by local and international media, she wasn’t considered credible by experts in the music industry and at that early stage in her career, Kylie didn’t command the respect or recognition that she’s famous for today.
However, by 1990, my world was shattered when Kylie moved on from Jason Donovan to rock star Michael Hutchence (the news was almost as profound as when the KStew cheating scandal leaked!). I didn’t quite understand the attraction to the scruffy INXS frontman versus the boy next door charm of Jason Donovan. But it also marked a pivotal moment in Kylie’s career, when she began to shed her innocence and express her sexier side. When her third studio album Rhythm of Love was released, Kylie was on the fast track to transitioning from her squeaky clean image to a racier persona. This was reflective in her more sexually charged music and video clips including Better The Devil You Know, Step Back in Time, What Do I Have to Do and Shocked.
Kylie was evolving, she was pushing the boundaries with her lyrics, fashion and identity, and the change was extreme. Well before Kylie launched her fourth and fifth album, Let’s Get To It and Kylie Minogue respectively, I had already jumped off the Kylie bandwagon with a thud! As much as I loved the sultry hits Confide In Me and Put Yourself In My Place, I wasn’t a fan of the over the top, trashy sex bomb Kylie had become. In hindsight, I was naïve. We see time and time again, from the likes of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Miley Cyrus – pop stars who achieve phenomenal success at a young age often take the giant leap towards an edgier, more adult persona to tap into a wider audience (or for shock value). Transitioning is all part of the creative process. Artists are like chameleons, developing their craft along with their image, whether it’s for publicity or to reach a broader market – evolution is part of the artistic journey.
Kylie’s sixth album Impossible Princess, was released in 1998 featuring the singles Some Kind of Bliss, Did It Again and Breathe4. The tracks exuded a more mature side to the singer, a rebellious vibe vastly different to the teenage poppy sounds of the Stock Aitken and Watermen era of the 80s. Although I didn’t have a strong connection to the music, my self-imposed Kylie snub began to wane. In 2000, the album Light Years was launched, generating a huge buzz with hits like Spinning Around, On a Night Like This and Kids (a duet with Robbie Williams)5.
It sparked a new awakening, a Kylie revival, the hype was reaching fever pitch and I was hooked – once again! Kylie’s follow up album, aptly titled Fever, was a phenomenal success with edgy dance tracks like Love At First Sight, Can’t Get You Out of My Head, In Your Eyes and Come Into My World, which continued with the pop, disco and house sounds of Light Years6. By this time, even the critics of the 80s finally embraced her music. Since 2003, Kylie has released a further three albums, Body Language, X and Aphrodite, all to critical acclaim.
“2012 marks Kylie’s 25th year in the music industry, but her career has spanned more than 33 years in the entertainment business. Kylie has launched eleven studio albums, two live CDs, eight live concert DVD’s, plus her Greatest Hits and the Ultimate Kylie double album and multiple video packages. This is of course in addition to over 50 singles released internationally. She’s received countless gold and platinum discs; she’s been honoured with numerous prestigious awards, sold-out nine record breaking world tours and in 2000 closed the Sydney Olympics. Kylie was also inducted into the Australian Record Industry Association’s Hall of Fame by the Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Julia Gillard, she was also named as an Australian National Living Treasure”7.
Looking back, I was in grade four when the class was given a project to write about Famous Australians. While most students chose traditional iconic Aussies such as Dame Nellie Melba, Sir Donald Bradman, Ned Kelly, I decided to focus on a modern contemporary artist …Kylie Minogue. The class sniggered with my selection and my teacher, I’m certain, was a little mortified. But I chose Kylie because she was a talented star, a star who continues to shine to this day. ‘The Singing Budgie’ ceases to spread her wings.
Image Source: kylie.com