Although she’s only managed a few hits in the U.S. since her arrival as a singer in 1987, Kylie Minogue is both Australia’s and Europe’s biggest-selling female pop singer over that period and a pop culture icon in those areas. Her image on the cover of magazines is guaranteed to produce extra sales. But a singing career was never what Minogue had in mind for herself.
Minogue was born on May 28, 1968, in Melbourne. In 1979, she began her acting career in the Australian TV drama series Skyways, eventually gaining a starring role in a children’s series, The Henderson Kids, before achieving national fame in the five-days-a-week soap opera Neighbours. Around the time Minogue joined, Neighbours also started airing in the U.K.
A major celebrity on the basis of her Neighbours popularity, Minogue had agreed to give a charity performance in the company of other personalities, choosing to sing Little Eva’s “Loco-Motion.” Someone hit on the idea of submitting a tape of the performance to local record company, Mushroom, who didn’t think much of the demo but saw the potential in releasing a single by the extremely popular young TV star. In their wildest dreams no one imagined a national number one record with the recorded version of “Loco-Motion” (July 1987).
At that time, Mushroom Records had formed a business relationship with London hit factory Stock, Aitken & Waterman (Dead or Alive, Mel & Kim, Samantha Fox, Bananarama, Rick Astley), who also saw potential in working with the popular actress, but she wasn’t a priority. In fact, when Minogue turned up at their London studios they had forgotten she was coming and quickly wrote her a song while she waited. The result, “I Should Be So Lucky,” gave Minogue the second of her six Australian number one singles and the first of her five English number ones. Now she became a priority for Stock, Aitken & Waterman. As was their way, Stock, Aitken & Waterman wrote and produced her records and they controlled her video image. Their re-recorded “Loco-Motion” put Minogue in the Top Ten in the U.S. In Australia, the U.K., and Europe, Minogue was scoring hit after hit and quickly left Neighbours to meet the demand on her.
If she was ever just along for the ride, Minogue took her first step toward control over her career with her 1990 single “Better the Devil You Know,” not letting Stock, Aitken & Waterman see the video she was making for the song until it was completed. SAW insisted on casting her in a girl-next-door mode, while Minogue opted for a saucier Madonna-like image. It ensured her continued success and reputation as a celebrity beyond the pop charts. With her fourth album, Let’s Get to It (1991), the singer also insisted on lyrical input.
Kylie Minogue ended up leaving Stock, Aitken & Waterman and recorded two albums, Kylie Minogue and Impossible Princess, with London dance label Deconstruction. A romantic relationship with INXS singer Michael Hutchence had encouraged her to experiment musically. While the backbone of both albums was the Brothers in Rhythm team, Minogue was keen to work with a variety of people. One unlikely collaboration saw a duet with Nick Cave, especially written by Cave for his Murder Ballads album. “Where the Wild Roses Grow” featured a nude Minogue floating dead in the water for its video.
While Impossible Princess represented another major career turning point in Australia — Minogue’s transition to a concert performer — in Europe the album was not considered a success. In 2000, she was encouraged by the Pet Shop Boys to switch to their label, Parlophone, and she re-emerged as the pop princess of old with the critical hit Light Years. The single “Spinning Around” went number one in both England and Australia. Her reign in music continued in 2001. Minogue issued Fever in October on the heels of the successful single “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” Such hype around the song allowed it to become an global smash, earning Minogue two Brit Awards in February 2002 for Best International Female and Best International Album for Fever. Shortly thereafter, Fever was released in the U.S. on Capitol, landing Minogue her biggest U.S. hit in nearly 15 years with “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” Spots on MTV’s TRL and Saturday Night Live proved her power. Body Language appeared in 2004; Minogue won a Grammy that same year for Best Dance Recording.
In March 2005, Minogue began Showgirl — The Greatest Hits Tour in Glasgow, Scotland. Following 23 sold-out shows in the U.K. and 14 in Europe, she was forced to postpone her scheduled Australian dates due to a diagnosis of early-stage breast cancer. Minogue returned to the stage in November 2006 after a 12-month treatment and recovery period, playing shows in Australia as well as seven more dates in the U.K. She spent 2007 working on a number of projects, including her tenth studio album.
Without anything approaching Madonna‘s musical strength, like Madonna, Minogue ensured her survival with imaginative videos and by keeping fans guessing and intrigued with consistent changes of personal image. She also appeared in a number of movies over the years; 1999′s Cut with Molly Ringwald was her eighth film appearance. - Ed Nimmervoll