A blend of Lolita and Barbarella.
- Fashion designer John Galliano.
Kylie Ann Minogue was born on 28 May, 1968, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, the first child for accountant Ron Minogue and former dancer Carol (née Jones) who hailed from Maesteg in Wales, UK. Completing the Minogue family are sister Danielle Jane (Dannii), also a singer, and their brother Brendan, a news cameraman.
Kylie took tap and jazz dance lessons and learnt to play piano during her childhood. Her idols were Swedish group Abba, whom Kylie liked to emulate using a broom handle as a microphone. Attending numerous auditions for child actors along with her younger sister Dannii, Kylie won roles in The Sullivans, Skyways, The Henderson Kids, The Zoo Family and Fame and Misfortune.
Girl Next Door
Diminutive1 Kylie first came to the world's attention playing adorable but feisty teenager Charlene Mitchell on Australian soap opera Neighbours which began airing in March, 1985. The daughter of divorcée Madge Mitchell (later Ramsay and Bishop) was always getting into tomboyish scrapes and her appearances in overalls once she started a job as car mechanic didn't exactly show off her best attributes.
The characters' love lives were a little tangled, as in all the best soaps. Charlene's on-off relationship with Scott (Jason Donovan, Kylie's real-life boyfriend at the time) culminated in their filmed 'wedding' in 1987. Scott's best man was Mike Young (Guy Pearce), who was keen on Jane, Charlene's best friend and bridesmaid. Jane was secretly in love with Scott, which was revealed when Mike read her diary just before the wedding, in true soap 'love triangle' fashion. Would Mike spill the beans and spoil the big day? Would Jane recreate the vow-ruining scene from The Graduate or sing a chorus of 'It Should've Been Me' at the altar?
The sight of scrubbed-up and polished bride Charlene walking down the aisle wearing a dazzling smile completed an 'ugly duckling' to stunning swan transformation. Scenes from the wedding, especially those of sparkling bride Charlene, were kept under wraps by the producers for maximum effect. Charlene's emergence from grease-smeared tomboy to beautiful bride can be compared to the ending of the film version of Grease when Olivia Newton John morphed from pretty virgin to sexy vamp; it succeeded in delivering the same audience-jawdrop reaction. The caterpillar-to-butterfly emergence plot paid off handsomely: Scott and Charlene's nuptials has been voted 'Best Soap Wedding Ever' by television viewers.
Both Kylie and Donovan were budding singers and the song they recorded as a duet for their wedding episode, 'Especially For You', was specially-penned by Stock-Aitken-Waterman. The couple then 'moved to Brisbane' (Aussie soap-speak for left the show) and seemed destined to follow in other soapstar footsteps, attempting to carve out a different career in showbusiness for themselves.
Kylie worked hard in the recording studio to cash in on her media popularity and her debut album Kylie, which contained the chart-topping single 'I Should Be So Lucky', meant she became the first Australian and the youngest female to top the UK album chart. Kylie went gold in the US and sold seven million copies internationally. 'It's No Secret' and 'The Locomotion', also tracks from Kylie, both charted in the US.
In the UK Neighbours was shown very much behind Australia (as much as six months), so when 'Especially For You' was released in the UK to coincide with the viewing of the wedding episode, it was Kylie's fifth single. The duet with Donovan proved so popular that the single shot to number two in the charts, just failing to make the 1988 Christmas number one slot thanks to the perennial Sir Cliff Richard's seasonal offering 'Mistletoe And Wine'. 'Especially For You' then took over the coveted number one place for three weeks in January, 1989, only finally knocked off the top spot by the collaboration of Marc Almond and Gene Pitney on 'Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart'.
Churning out 'bubblegum pop' suited her image at that time. However, you can only chew something so long before it loses its flavour and the 'girl-next-door' image began to grate. Kylie's diehard fan base still bought her records but the generation that knew her as 'Charlene from Neighbours' were growing up fast and eager to branch out into other things. In 1989, Kylie's American record company, Geffen, dropped her after her second album Enjoy Yourself didn't sell as well in the US as it did in the UK and Australia. However, her decision to take on the role of Lola in the 1989 film The Delinquents helped ensure the film's box-office success.
At the request of Bob Geldof, Kylie participated in the re-recording of 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' to raise funds for the starving population in Ethiopia. Together with Marti Pellow, Bananarama, Bros, Cliff Richard, Jason Donovan and others, they recorded it as Band Aid II and the song reached Number One, where it stayed for three weeks over the festive season 1989/90.
By the time of her third album, Kylie was writing her own material to sing, and Rhythm Of Love, released in 1990, provided four hit singles: 'Better The Devil You Know', 'Step Back In Time', 'Shocked' and 'What Do I Have To Do?'. Rhythm Of Love was an attempt to be accepted as a mature artist, with sexually-charged videos accompanying the single releases. Further progress in leaving behind the girl-next-door image was her high-profile romance with INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence, whose comment to the press that his favourite hobby was 'corrupting Kylie' would have sounded caddish had it not been sanctioned.
The slower-paced album Let's Get To It of 1991 wasn't a commercial success and Kylie immediately released a Greatest Hits album, her last project for Stock-Aitken-Waterman. Although she remained under contract with them until 1992, astute Kylie realised a change of image was called for and chose not to sign up with the same producers again when her contract came up for renewal.
Kylie added a touch of realistic drama to Dawn French's popular sitcom The Vicar of Dibley when she guest-starred as herself in the episode 'Community Spirit'.
Even with new producers and under a new contract with Deconstruction Records, Kylie's 1994 album Kylie Minogue didn't do very well although some tracks from it were hits as singles. Kylie recreated the pose in the famous painting of Shakespearean character Ophelia by British artist Sir John Everett Millais on the promotional material for her collaboration with Nick Cave on the 'Where the Wild Roses Grow' single. The death of Polonius's daughter Ophelia was a suicide but in the 'Where the Wild Roses Grow' video, the young woman is murdered by her lover to preserve the image of her youth and beauty in his mind forever. The single was a number one hit in the UK, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, but some television music stations refused to play the video due to the murder enactment.
Trying her hand at acting again, Kylie played the role of Cammy in Street Fighter starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, but unfortunately her performance was panned by the critics. Undeterred, she took roles in Hayride to Hell in 1995, and Misfit and Bio-Dome in 1996. That same year, her old producer Pete Waterman launched an astonishing verbal attack on Kylie when he accused her of selling out by shedding her girl-next-door perception for a raunchier image.
Kylie's last album with Deconstruction Records was Impossible Princess, but it was only successful in Australia. The advertising, promotion and the album title2 had to be shelved after the shocking death of Diana, Princess of Wales on 31 August, 1997. Kylie's single 'Some Kind of Bliss' was released during the week of the Diana funeral build-up meaning it went up against the charity single 'Goodbye England's Rose', performed by Elton John, a reworking of his 'Candle in the Wind'. Elton's record outsold everything and commanded the number one chart position for over a month, taking the accolade of most copies ever sold from 'White Christmas' by Bing Crosby. 'Some Kind of Bliss' reached a lowly number 22 in the UK charts and a disappointing 27th placing in Australia.
On 27 November, 1997, Kylie attended the funeral of former lover Michael Hutchence, whose bizarre death aged 37 remains a bone of contention3. They were a couple for three years and had remained friends after parting. Michael's brother Rhett has publicly praised Kylie for her grace, discretion and respect for his brother since his untimely passing.
In the 1997 Comic Relief charity show, a sketch was presented which has become a legend. A popular British sitcom of the time was BAFTA-winning Men Behaving Badly starring Martin Clunes as Gary and Neil Morrissey as Tony. It ran from 1992 – 99 and a continuous plotline centred around Gary and Tony's lecherous appreciation of Kylie Minogue. The sketch began with the lads sitting on their sofa swigging from a lager can and chatting about Kylie this, Kylie that, Kylie the other. Then there's a knock at the door and into the famous living room steps a casually-dressed Kylie who explains that her transport has broken down. She then asks if she can use their telephone to call for a replacement vehicle. The visitor is unrecognised by the lads and while she's using their phone they carry on discussing Kylie's attributes, much to the amusement of the audience!
I've tried to imagine what it will be like when no-one cares who I am any more and it's quite scary.
- Kylie interview with Cosmopolitan, April, 1998.
After Kylie signed a new recording contract with Parlophone in 1999, Pete Waterman said he was approached to help produce Kylie's next album, saying: I would love to work with her again — she's the greatest artist I have ever worked with. However, when studio work began, Waterman was nowhere to be seen and he's not listed on the Light Years album credits.
The year 2000 was a good one for Kylie: she was chosen to appear at the Royal Variety Performance4; she sang at the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics, and also performed at the opening ceremony of the Paralympics. The worldwide television coverage coincided with the release of the first single 'Spinning Around' from her latest album Light Years. It debuted at number one in both Australia and the UK, thanks in no small part to the accompanying video featuring Kylie wearing a tiny pair of gold lamé hotpants. Kylie's bottom had long been revered and with the teeny material barely covering one of her most popular assets, the hotpants became a celebrity in their own right. In 2001 Kylie appeared in the mega-successful double Academy Award-winning Moulin Rouge! and her newest album Fever sold six million copies worldwide.
Can't Get You Out Of My Head
Aussie soap stardom seemed a long way off when the Fever lead single 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' reached number one in 40 different countries, including France, Germany, Macedonia, Estonia, Sweden and Spain, eventually selling over four million copies. The track was promoted by a raunchy video featuring red-lipsticked Kylie dressed in a white cleavage-revealing slashed outfit. The startling mix of heavy-beat background music, with sexually-suggestive lyrics performed by dressed-to-kill Kylie shot her into the stratosphere as a pop goddess, laying to rest the ghost of 'Charlene from Neighbours' forever. The video rapidly became the most-requested on television music channels, and was voted third best music video of all time by the Italian branch of MTV. 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' remains Kylie's biggest-selling single to date (February, 2008).
An Audience With...
In 2001 Kylie was granted the privilege of her own An Audience With... show, an honour reserved for entertainers who are hugely popular with the British public. The recording of this show is filmed in front of a high-profile audience of British celebrities consisting mostly of commercial television soapstars, Big Brother contestants, comeback-attempting popstars usually with forthcoming shows themselves, and friends and family of the host. Kylie performed her part with aplomb and broke the hearts of many women the length and breadth of the kingdom when she duetted with amphibian heartthrob Kermit the Frog. If the gossip columns are to be believed, Kermit has never looked at Miss Piggy the same way since, and Kylie has been careful not to cross paths with the jealous pig.
The Light Years album was another change of style for Kylie, and a massive commercial success. The album cover showed Kylie barely covered by a purple kite-shaped costume fixed at the hip by a tiny bow. The alternate cover used for the reissue which contained a second CD just for the Australian market was a little more daring. It had a picture of Kylie wearing nothing but a necklace, barely sparing her nakedness by holding a towel across her breasts. Light Years contains some tracks written by Kylie and three co-written by Robbie Williams. One which was released as a single was 'Kids' which was a duet with Williams. They performed it on stage at the 2000 MTV Music Award show, on Top of the Pops, and when Kylie appeared as a special guest at one of Williams' concerts in 2001. The track is also included on Williams' album Sing When You're Winning.
Kylie is very proud of her gay fanbase and has made many appearances at gay nightclubs, including the G-A-Y at the London Astoria. On 1 July, 2000, Kylie performed at the London Mardi Gras in Finsbury Park. She appears at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras as often as her commitments allow. On 5 January, 2007, Kylie was hailed as the greatest gay icon of all time.
On a Night Like This
Between March and May, 2001, Kylie performed in 43 venues; 23 in Australia and 20 in Europe to promote her album Light Years. The theme was Broadway shows from the days of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, and included reworkings of her old hits 'Better the Devil You Know' and 'I Should Be So Lucky'. New songs like 'Loveboat', 'Butterfly' and 'Your Disco Needs You' ensured the success of the tour.
Kylie undertook a gruelling worldwide tour between April and August, 2002 to promote her album Fever. Wearing exquisite Dolce & Gabbana costumes designed exclusively for the tour, Kylie performed 50 concerts: 25 venues in the UK, 13 in Europe and 12 in Australia.
The Showgirl tour was organised to celebrate Kylie's career to date, and it was elaborate in the extreme. Inspired by showgirls of the Moulin Rouge era and Las Vegas concerts, one outfit was a jewel-encrusted corset made especially for her by John Galliano. It had taken four months to create and gave Kylie a waist measurement of just 16 inches. Fashion designers Karl Lagerfeld and Julien McDonald also created outfits. The feathered head-dresses supplied by Lido of Paris were of such stature that they needed their own transport between venues. Kylie's 23 British dates kicked off in Glasgow, Scotland, on 19 March, 2005. Other concerts were in Birmingham, Manchester and Earls Court, London, which were all sell-outs. Kylie had completed the European leg of her Showgirl tour when fate stepped in.
Kylie was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in May, 2005, just before her 37th birthday. Breast cancer is the leading cause of death for women aged 34 to 54. The devastating news prompted Kylie to postpone the dates of the Australian part of the Showgirl tour, which saddened her: 'I was so looking forward to bringing the Showgirl tour to Australian audiences, and am sorry to have to disappoint my fans'. A scheduled appearance on 26 June at the Glastonbury Festival, where she had been booked to close the concert, was cancelled.
Upbeat from the onset, at least publicly, Kylie issued regular statements through her publicist, assuring her fans that she was 'going to be back with you all again soon'. The revelation created increased public awareness of breast cancer in younger women, encouraging them to practise breast-awareness and apply for check-ups. Kylie's personal battle became a crusade as thousands of her fans worldwide signed up to raise funds for cancer research.
The Kylie Minogue Breast Cancer Fund charity was set up almost immediately to accommodate fans wishing to donate in her name. Best wishes poured in from Kylie's worldwide fan base and from people who weren't even fans, but had just wanted to offer their support. Some of the tributes were collated in the form of a book, with the proceeds going to the Kylie Minogue Breast Cancer Fund.
Kylie's medical treatment, a lumpectomy, wasn't kept private. The outcome was described by doctors as 'successful'. Her surgeon Jenny Senior described Kylie as the 'perfect patient' and that she was 'feeling fine' and in high spirits. The doctor passed on the singer's thanks to all her friends and supporters, and stated: 'I feel confident that we caught the cancer in time and that she is now on the road to complete recovery'.
Even though some hair thinning was in evidence following chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Kylie didn't hide away under expensive wigs, but chose instead to wear headgear like scarves and turbans to accentuate the loss rather than cover it. Kylie was hardly ever out of the public spotlight even though there must have been times when she just wanted the world to go away and leave her alone. In June, 2006 there was a press release stating that Kylie's breast cancer was in remission. The following month Kylie appeared at Sir Elton John's White Tie and Tiara summer party to help raise funds for Elton's AIDS charity. Kylie called the bash her 'official coming-out party'. In December, 2006 Kylie restarted her Showgirl tour with a modified concert in London; decreasing the number of costume changes because Kylie found the 'quick changes really stressful'.
Kylie at the V&A
On 6 February, 2007, at a special opening party, Kylie launched an exhibition of her career at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Being one of the most photographed people in the world, images of Kylie in various formal or staged poses and guises were selected from just 25 prominent photographers for displaying. Included for public viewing were her old 'Charlene from Neighbours' overalls, the white outfit she wore in the 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' video, and those gold hotpants.
The Kylie Factor
Simon Cowell's popular television talent show The X-Factor received an added boost in 2007 when Kylie's sister Dannii Minogue was recruited to join the panel of judges. One of Dannii's protégés, Welsh baritone Rhydian Roberts, was hot favourite to win the competition and a one million pound recording contract. The live final was much-hyped with the promise of special guests whose identities were kept under wraps until the week before the final.
Around 12 million viewers tuned in to watch the finalists perform a duet with established artists in order to garner votes. Rhydian was teamed with Welsh diva Katherine Jenkins on 'You Raise Me Up', with underdog Leon Jackson's surprise singing partner turning out to be Kylie! They sang a jazzed-up version of her 1990 hit 'Better The Devil You Know' and performed a dance routine in front of a red grand piano. The audience went crazy and Leon ended up as the winner of The X-Factor, prompting a rush of complaints that Rhydian was robbed, and Leon only won thanks to the 'Kylie factor'.
The exhibition of Kylie's career moved from the V&A to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Scotland, boosting the annual attendance figure as over 165,000 Kylie fans passed through the doors within four months. Curators at the Kelvingrove were delighted to announce that their newly-refurbished establishment had knocked Edinburgh Castle off its number one Scottish tourist attraction position for the first time.
Where else could you explore the wonders of Ancient Egypt, enjoy the treasures of Dali and Rembrandt, see a Spitfire hanging from a ceiling and then wander down and view Kylie's hotpants?
- Spokesman for Culture and Sport Glasgow.
X and Astrid
On 27 November, 2007, Kylie released her tenth studio album, the fittingly-titled X. The track '2 Hearts', her first single since 2005, was sung by Kylie at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway. Another track from X, 'Wow', wowed the audience and television viewers when Kylie and dancers performed it live at the Brit Awards in February 2008.
Over 13 million viewers tuned in to watch 'Voyage of the Damned', the 2007 Christmas special episode of Doctor Who which was an adventure aboard the ill-fated space cruiser Titanic. Kylie's character was Astrid, (an anagram of TARDIS, the Doctor's space-time machine), a gutsy waitress who helps the assistant-less Doctor then sacrifices herself to kill the baddie and save the Earth.
- Silver and Gold Logie5 awards for her performance in the show Neighbours.
- Two ARIA Awards in 1996 for her collaboration with Nick Cave on 'Where The Wild Roses Grow'.
- 'Spinning Around' won Best Pop Release at the ARIA Awards in 2000.
- Showbusiness Personality of the Year Award in 2002.
- In 2002 the video for 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' won the MTV award for Best Choreography.
- Best International Female and Best International Album at the 2002 Brit Award show.
- Woman Of The Year 2002.
- 'Come Into My World' in 2004 won a Grammy Award for Best Single.
- OBE for services to music on 29 December, 2007.
- Kylie was named Woman of the Year at the Elle Style Awards on 13 February, 2008.
- At the Brit Awards on 20 February, 2008, Kylie received the Best International Female award from Doctor Who star David Tennant, who picked her up, swung her around and kissed her. Blushing Kylie thanked the audience and her fans for their continued support.
I am almost as surprised as I am honoured. I feel deeply touched to be acknowledged by the UK, my adopted home, in this way.
- Kylie's reaction to her inclusion in the Queen's 2008 New Year's Honours List.
Kylie's favourite food is prawns, but her infrequent naughty indulgence is chocolate. She started a lingerie brand called 'Love Kylie', and sells her own range of 'Kylie' dolls and 'Showtime' perfume. Madame Tussauds have created four waxworks of Kylie throughout her career, only HM Queen Elizabeth II has had more!