(The Diary of a Pop Defender)
It’s hard to remember a time when Kylie wasn’t in my life. Maybe when I was a dribbling, moth-mouthed baby, a skinless prawn with roaming fish-eyes that cared more about what bit of fluff I was going to ingest than what perfectly formed pop music was ringing about my ears.
For the past 25 years Kylie has been a pop constant in my life. My love for Kylie has evolved just as the lady herself has. Nowadays it manifests itself in the untainted, unparalleled joy I feel when I hear her music. It’s a joy wrapped up in liberation, in the freedom and ease of the best pop music and its innate ability to raise you above the dim, dingy normality of life into a place of unadulterated bliss. From midway through my teens mixing my love for pop at its purest with its supposedly mutual exclusive ‘indie’ bands , defending her choices and revelling in every turn her music took (well maybe, apart from If You Were With Me Now..)
My initial love for Kylie formed in the days after primary school where my Mam would watch the goings on in Ramsey St as I pretended to be interested in the latest Ladybird book. The only remotely glamorous person in Neighbours in those days was Gayle (the interior designer and large ‘ethnic’ earring wearer) but she didn’t count because she was ‘old’ and married to Paul, so my interest remained vague until the arrival of Charlene.
As Charlene in Neighbours Kylie was young, squeaky and sweet in a way that porridge-faced Michelle in Eastenders could never be. She evoked sundrenched glamour in terrible overalls and a bubble perm. She was the teenager we all wanted to aspire to be not the one the tabloid headlines told us we were going to turn into. She didn’t make me want to be Australian or a mechanic or kiss boys, she just made me want to be HER.
By the time I’d gotten my tiny mind round the fact that Charlene was Kylie Minogue and she was now singing that song I Should Be So Lucky that I loved I was properly obsessed. That one video electrified my young life. You got to see REAL Charlene/Kylie at home! Kylie in an assortment of eye-popping outfits, In all her different rooms, in a bath! Filing her nails! Looking at a picture that was not of Jason Donovan! I sometimes blew all the suds around in the bath before Howard’s Way came on …surely soon I would grow up to be Kylie?!
I misspent a freakish amount of my youth under the bizarre, misguided notion that one day I would eventually ‘turn into Kylie’. I don’t know why. I just believed that one day I would look in the mirror and see a face like hers staring back.
I can half blame my granny on this as she used to spend Sunday lunchtimes confusing me by saying she knew a woman called ‘Mary Minogue’ I tuned out when it got to the part about bingo rows and general OAP business… Soon ‘knew’ was replaced in my crazed head with ‘related to’ imposing and almost transfixing my bizarre child’s brain with the notion that I must be somehow be a distant relative of Kylie.
I needed to collect more information for my growing-up-to-be-Kylie mission. My middle name is Ann as is Kylie’s although that meant nothing as my older sister’s favourite singer was Whitney Houston and they shared the middle name Elizabeth and there was no way she was turning into her anytime soon. Constantly asking my poor Whitney- loving sister did I look like Kylie didn’t fill me with confidence either as she barely looked up from her Smash Hits to view my suet blob of a face before robotically replying ‘Yes’. Still I was unsure…
So I decided to become Kylie I had to do things in a more Minogue way obviously. This transformation consisted of dragging my Kylie annual out and picking the correct poses to do in front of the camera for family photos. Thus creating the series of infamous Christmas pictures of a front-toothless girl with a bowl haircut in an itchy jumper doing the standard head to the side, hand to the cheek Minogue pose like a misguided Barnardo’s ad.
Luckily my delusions ended with the development of said pictures or fast forward 11 years and the sight of my pale goose pimpled arse trying to negotiate some miniscule gold hot pants would have been the stuff of nightmares.
Thankfully I realised that all my poster swapping, dungaree wearing, constant replaying of the album, devotion to the idea of Jason Donovan (if not love of the real person) waking up early every Saturday morning to religiously study and mimic my Kylie video to the point of warping was never going to make my face change.
With this youthful psychosis out of the way I could get on with the fun business of just loving Kylie like an average obsessed fan. This included cooing over the parade of primary colour dresses in the Hand On Your Heart video. The transcendent glory of seeing her live for the first time, kitted out in my purple dungarees, drinking chocolate milk and waving frantically at the spangly dressed blur in front of me. Bursting into tears at mass one Sunday upon hearing the crusty old priest say he’d accidentally been to see The Delinquents. The tragedy of spinning too quickly upside down on the monkey bars in the People’s Park and losing my beloved Kylie pendant in the woodchips below.
As I got older I weathered the storms such as Virgin radio banning all Kylie songs in a misguided attempt to be credible to heterosexual, knuckle dragging males (what an audience!), obviously completely missing her Deconstruction age heralded by the arrival of sex-pop wet dream Confide In Me. I defended (and still do) the misunderstood melancholy genius of Manics penned Some Kind of Bliss even after its authors all but disowned it. I avoided the irate stares when I soundtracked most of my days working in a music shop to Light Years and Fever. I was the girl who sneaked out of Pavement’s ATP indiekid convention to locate the nearest internet cafe so I could hear the debut play of All the Lovers.
Kylie-love even introduced me to a fantastic, life changing friend who along with his group of mates hosted many a hot sweaty party in his Kylie sized flat that would usually culminate in him being forced to use the oven extractor fan to halt the condensation dripping off the walls as we all went mental to Made of Glass.
Yes, I may have grown up to just look like myself but through all the tough times, travails, celebrations and drama I’ve had an almost faultless supply of fizzy pop gems by Ms. Minogue to soundtrack it all. Here’s to the next 25 years of perfection.