Responsible for some of the catchiest choruses in history, Kylie Minogue, the Princess Of Pop, has also given us some of pop music’s greatest stylistic reinventions. In the 80s, however, the prospect of a life in music may have surprised even Kylie herself. She’d begun her showbiz career as an actress on the Aussie TV soap Neighbours. This introduced her to UK audiences before she burst onto the music scene with her debut album, Kylie, in 1988, which showcased her vibrant and playful brand of pop and featured her breakthrough singles I Should Be So Lucky and The Loco-Motion.
Since playing the coveted “legends”’ slot at Glastonbury in 2019 – turning in the most-viewed performance in the festival’s history – she has released a greatest-hits compilation, Step Back In Time: The Definitive Collection, and even her own brand of rosé wine.
With a career that’s lasted three decades – and counting – here are some highlights and stunning reinventions that have seen the Princess Of Pop make a huge impact on pop culture.
90s Kylie: the Princess Of Pop flexes her creative muscles
Kylie Minogue marked the beginning of a new decade with 1990’s Rhythm Of Love – another pure pop record that was notably more mature and fully formed, in comparison to her previous efforts. It included the soon-to-be-hits Better The Devil You Know, Step Back in Time and Shocked.
The 90s was a hedonistic decade during which underground music began to receive more mainstream attention, with artists such as Björk and Massive Attack breaking through with their trip-hop sound. During this period, Kylie may have felt some pressure to prove that she also had the potential to be experimental, and, in 1993, she signed with the UK indie label Deconstruction – a partnership that would lead to the production of two of her most alternative-leaning albums.
In 1994, she released her self-titled album, Kylie Minogue, which features some of her career-best vocal performances. Her creative risk paid off, as the album’s lead single, Confide In Me, reached No.2 on the UK Singles Chart.
With 1997’s Impossible Princess, Kylie continued to make boundary-pushing pop music influenced by dance, techno and elements of Britpop. It was also one of her most personal albums, inspired by her travels around the world. While none of the Impossible Princess’ singles (Some Kind Of Bliss, Did It Again and Breathe) managed to reach the Top 10 in the UK charts, the album debuted at No.10 (six places lower than Kylie Minogue’s peak). Despite being a stunning record, Impossible Princess’s commercial performance pushed Kylie back towards a more accessible pop sound.
2000s Kylie: a return to pure pop
The new millennium saw Kylie returning to her pop roots with a fresh perspective and a greater willingness to incorporate different sounds into her music. 2000’s Light Years was pop with a splash of disco, while Kylie rebooted herself as a sex siren for the new millennium. The album featured two of her most successful singles to date, Spinning Around and Kids (featuring Robbie Williams), the music video for the former easily being one of her best, with Kylie challenging anyone to rock gold hotpants as confidently as she could.
In 2001, Kylie served up yet another killer pop record filled with bangers. Fever featured the incredible singles Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, In Your Eyes and Love At First Sight, all three of which charted in the UK Top 3.
After this hat trick, Kylie was firmly back in the game and, in 2002, she had one of the biggest nights of her career, at the BRIT Awards. Winning the Best International Female and Best International Album awards for Fever, she gave an iconic, futuristic performance of Can’t Get You Out Of My Head while wearing a custom Dolce & Gabbana outfit. Appearing onstage lying across a giant silver record, Kylie killed it in a pair of amazing knee-high silver boots.
In 2003, she received her first Grammy nomination in the Best Dance Recording category, for Love At First Sight, and kept the momentum going with the album Body Language, a seductive pop record which featured the hits Slow, Chocolate and Red Blooded Woman.
Sadly, in 2005 Kylie was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to cancel several tour dates, including a headline appearance at Glastonbury. All of a sudden, her career was on hold – but she would soon begin the process of another reinvention…
All the lovers: from X to Aphrodite
Kylie has been a long-term ally to the LGBTQ+ community, who have embraced her bold sense of style and consistent ability to serve up dancefloor anthems. Though her music has always captured the interest of her gay fans, it had a noticeably queer spirit during the Xand Aphrodite eras, spanning 2007 to 2011.
“I remember being picked up from school one day, getting in the car and hearing In My Arms,” recalls Kylie fan Aaron Downing of the first time he head the X single. “The opening lyrics are, ‘How do I describe a feeling?/I’ve only ever dreamt of this,’ and for me at the time, as someone who was in the closet, it felt quite personal. Also the lyrics ‘’Cause you and I could find a pleasure/No one else has ever known’ was sort of like young gay love, like something neither of the two had experienced before.”
While Kylie is singing from the perspective of a heterosexual woman, the lyrics clearly strike a chord with queer people whose first feelings of same-sex attraction can sometimes be difficult and confusing to process. The track, produced by Calvin Harris, was also accompanied by an intoxicating music video brimming with vivid colours and sleek, futuristic outfits.
X was regarded as a comeback album, despite only being released four years after Body Language. It was certainly a spicy, eye-catching return to form: a hard-hitting, proudly pop record with clear influences from dance and electronic music. It still sounds fresh today – even more impressive when you consider that the album was created around the challenging period of the singer’s breast cancer diagnosis and recovery.
Kylie built an even deeper connection with her LGBTQ+ fanbase during the Aphrodite era, especially through the music video for All The Lovers, which showed couples of various sexualities, genders and ethnicities making out in the streets. It’s a triumphant declaration of free love and the sign of a true ally.
2011’s Aphrodite: Les Folies tour was a highlight of her career, as it featured some of the most impressive staging to ever grace the world’s arenas. Kylie superfan Luke McWilliams thinks that “the whole first segment of the Aphrodite tour is one of the most amazing things in live music history… that entrance in the clam shell! Her performance of Everything Is Beautiful on that tour is one of my favourite live performances by her.”
Intergalactic dancefloor diva
Fast-forward to 2020 and the Princess Of Pop’s intergalactic incarnation in Say Something, the first single from her 15th studio album, Disco.
Kylie Minogue’s charisma and catchy tunes have led her to become a national treasure – not just in her native Australia, but all over the globe. She’s constantly evolving, giving her fans something new and always being her true, authentic self. We cannot wait to see what she does next…
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