Kylie – The Ultimate Pop Survivor

24 09 2008

People will always debate Kylie. They’ll discuss the botox, point out how she will never sing like Beyoncé (she coos like Jane Birkin) and stress how she could never dance like Britney or Madonna (she barely moves). But as a pop superstar, Kylie is total and utter genius. Why? Because she’s remained relevant for more than 20 years, coming back from the dead more times than most (and more times than Madonna, the most obvious comparison).

Her first breakthrough hit I Should Be So Lucky is steeped in post-modern irony. Kylie turned up at Pete Waterman’s offices waiting to record a new song and Watermen, having forgotten the appointment, remarked “Kylie? She should be so lucky”. An hour later, they had recorded a hit that went on to sell millions. Sure, it’s dreadful, but, in retrospect, maybe it is so dreadful, it fits into the so-bad-its-genius bracket?

Subsequent Kylie albums made with Stock, Aitken & Waterman presented a sound so empty and vacuous it represented the decade of Thatcher without a trace of irony. Kylie was the likeable pop face of greed; she was cute and wholesome with songs built on pure chorus and commerce. She also retained a vital pop innocence in her videos.

The first credible artist to have a rethink of Kylie and SAW was KLF member and cultural raconteur Bill Drummond. Bill got SAW to produce his discoveries Brilliant and aped their own Kylie formula with his 1989 single Kylie Said to Jason, a record written specifically to be a Top 10 hit – it failed, but inspired The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way).

Kylie was ubiquitous in the 80s, from appearing in Neighbours and music videos, romancing Jason Donovan or a continual presence on the radio – she was the ultimate pop urchin. But behind the scenes, she was a business woman learning the art of the brand – as she herself stated: “Learn your lines … perform your lines, no time for questions, promote the product.” Her success came with so much ease that it almost seemed like the pop version of Malcolm McLaren’s Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle.

When SAW’s popularity began to wane, Kylie started to control her own image, rebranding herself as Sex Kylie, a stringent feminist who wanted to write and escape the pop ghetto of SAW. It worked. Sort of. What do you do when your music helped define the worse aspects of the previous decade? Obvious. You seek out Nick Cave.

Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue made an unholy duo – darkness and light – that gave birth to ironic Kylie. He persuaded her to recite the lyrics to I Should Be So Lucky at the Poetry Olympics at the Royal Albert Hall. Performing a duet with her on Where the Wild Roses Grow, Cave maintained an obsession with Kylie’s projected innocence, beauty and child-like naivety that he’d had since the early days of Pop Kylie. It became obvious nothing was going to stop this pop mutant. The team up was successful and a hit for Kylie. Her next project, Impossible Princess, co-written by Manic Street Preachers and herself, aligned herself as “Self-realised Kylie”. Self-realised Kylie portrayed herself in a mighty death battle with all the various versions of herself. Sadly, Kylie Minogue lost the battle and Impossible Princess bombed. She was written off again.

Kylie rebounded (of course) with the disco-kitsch-and-hot-pants success of Light Years, solidifying her comeback with the storming single Can’t Get You Out of My Head. Her subsequent album Fever saw Kylie reinvent herself as a sort of Daft Punk meets Gina X Performance of the Noughties. And she changed again with Body Language, confirming her success at the pop game. She altered the videos this time – instead of sex and innocence, the videos that accompanied these songs were reminiscent of Devo’s satirical pastiches. It was textbook comeback material.

X might have recorded disappointing sales and accolades but she’ll bounce back. Kylie is a stomping Godzilla of pop culture. Who else can say they mashed up New Order’s Blue Monday (with Can’t Get You Out of My Head), performed with Fischerspooner and Kermit the Frog, and got covered by Flaming Lips and Tricky (both times they pleaded for Kylie to be “understood”)? Who else has tallied up 30 Top 10 UK hits, won an OBE and still have time to be considered “too sexy” by Coldplay? The Kylie brand is omnipotent. She’s a postmodern, feminist, countercultural and mainstream hero. Everyone loves her. Why fight it?

Source : The Guardian

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8 responses

24 09 2008
naomi

this is a brill piece thanks for this

24 09 2008
The Impossible Princess

Hi Naomi,

I thought this was a really great article written by somebody who isn’t necessarily a Kylie fan himself, but can still appreciate what we all see in her.

It was also a good excuse to dig out some of my favourite Kylie pics!!

Dave 🙂

P.S. Sorry about the horrible look of the site at the moment, I had a bit of a disaster and lost a lot of the images used in the layout and had to knock something up quick. I’ll update it with something better very soon!!!

24 09 2008
Dennis

Yeah KYLie always comes back from the dead lol… but I have to say EMI did a horrible job on promotion and stuff X could’ve done a lot better :/

24 09 2008
Jen

Bravo Kylie! And, Dave, as well, for providing the article.

BTW, I think the new look is great. The One banner is classy looking, just like the lady herself. Rock on with your bad self!

24 09 2008
Samara is KylieKrazy

Thanks Dave! I enjoyed the article very much, i will never understand why Kylie isn’t huge in the States but i guess i like that she’s not in a way, i think here in America we love garbage and our Princess is definitely NOT that! I feel if she were huge here we’d try turning her into a puppet on a string like all of our newer pop acts. I feel very fortuanate to have grown up listening and admiring this amazing woman. She will always be number one to me.

24 09 2008
Michael

Why has Kylie done so well over the years? It’s simple. She was true to herself and as such she always comes across as someone you can connect with. Her audiences know this, feel it, respect it, and respond to it.

Here in the states, she not “big” because those who make “pop” music here could never figure out the best way to market her. And that was to simply market her. Instead they would create a false facade around someone to market them, and more often than not they were gone within a year or two. And someone real and grounded like Kylie never fit their bill. So, instead they would try to pass off someone “real” instead of going with the real thing.

Kylie is and has been a force all by herself and it is too bad for us here in the states as we have been cheated out of a great performer, talent, and person that is Kylie Minogue.

25 09 2008
Beth

Dennis, I agree with you.
They did like, nothing to advertise it!

And her tour too, I only found out about it from searching Kylie on Google!

25 09 2008
Dennis

Same thing for me too o.o

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