After over 30 years of bothering charts around the world, Kylie Minogue is one of those rare things: a pop star with longevity.
Key to her ongoing success is her constant reinvention, which has helped her clock up 50 UK Top 40 singles, bag multiple awards from Brits to Grammys, sell out tours across the globe and earn National Treasure status in the process. Not bad considering she’s not even a Brit.
But when it comes to her musical output, Kylie often doesn’t get the credit she really deserves.
Her triumphant 2019 Glastonbury set - in front of a record crowd - was testament to how much love there is for the 53-year-old star.
But it also illustrated just how many pop bangers she’s gifted us over the years - and how she’s pushed pop’s boundaries - which is why she’s still topping charts three decades since her first hit.
Here’s 10 times Kylie reinvented herself - and redefined the pop genre.
1. The ‘Rhythm Of Love’ singles
With her Neighbours character Charlene having upped sticks to Brisbane, Kylie became a full-time proper pop star in 1988.
After two mega-selling albums penned entirely by Stock Aitken and Waterman, the 20-year-old Kylie went from girl-next-door to the-girl-everyone-wished-lived-next-door, thanks to a seriously sexed-up image overhaul.
Kylie has credited her relationship with INXS frontman Michael Hutchence, who she had begun dating, as being hugely influential in giving her the confidence to take more control of her image and music. The result saw (ahem) SAW up their game with what is arguably Kylie’s best collection of singles from one album. Rhythm Of Love spawned Better the Devil You Know, Step Back In Time, What Do I Have To Do and Shocked. What a time to be alive.
2. Confide In Me
After enjoying years of success as part of PWL’s Hit Factory pop conveyor belt, Kylie craved more creative control and credibility. When she signed to dance label Deconstruction, she got both, and gifted us with the stone cold classic Confide In Me in the process (UK No.2, 1994).
The first single from her eponymously titled fifth studio album was a huge departure from her previous Stock Aitken and Waterman-penned hits, both musically and visually, and signalled the moment Kylie was embraced by the cool kids and fashion mags.
3. Where The Wild Roses Grow
Aussie goth rocker Nick Cave has always been a huge fan of Kylie (or to quote the man himself, he’s “obsessed”), so all of his Halloween’s came at once when she agreed to duet on Where The Wild Roses Grow in 1995. The ‘murder ballad’ is essentially a dialogue between a killer (Nick) and his victim (Kylie) and culminates with her getting her head bashed in by a rock. Spinning Around it is not.
They continue to be great friends, with Nick declaring Kylie as “the greatest thing that has happened to Australian music”. He repaid the favour by joining her on stage at last year’s Glastonbury to duet on this very song. Chills.
4. Impossible Princess
Kylie’s ‘difficult second album’ (for Deconstruction at least) is by far her most daring and experimental. There’s rock, there’s trip hop, there’s electronica, there’s even flippin’ drum and bass.
Portishead, Bjork and Massive Attack were all enjoying huge success when this was released in 1997, and Kylie was evidently a fan. However, the album failed to light up any chart outside of her native Australia, and Kylie, whilst acknowledging the important part it played in her career, says she wouldn’t create another album like it again. But it wouldn’t be long until she bounced back…
5. *Those* gold hot pants
With her career teetering on the edge of the pop dumper, Kylie returned to her pure pop roots after signing a new deal with Parlophone in 1999. Her comeback single Spinning Around was shiny, smiley Kylie at her best, and with a little help from a now legendary pair of very short, very sparkly gold hot pants, returned her to the summit of charts around the world.
6. Can’t Get You Out Of My Head
Iconic song. Iconic Video. Peak Kylie.
7. The Fever Tour
The moment Kylie proved she was more than a match for Madonna in the live stakes. Kylie made her appearance on stage encased within a silver cyborg suit, setting the scene for a flawless show.
See also her show-stopping performance at the 2002 Brit Awards where she debuted a mash-up of Can’t Get You Out Of My Head with New Order’s Blue Monday atop a giant Kylie CD (remember those?).
Possibly Kylie’s most left field single, it showed she isn’t averse to pushing the pop boundaries and taking a risk. It paid off, rewarding her with a seventh UK No.1 single. The stripped back electronic jam still sounds as fresh today as it did upon release 15 years ago, and we’ll never get bored of watching that gorgeous, sun-drenched video.
One of Kylie’s most recent incarnation was perhaps her most surprising yet: Country Kylie.
Golden’s lead single Dancing was a country/dance/pop hybrid, not a million miles from Aviici’s Wake Me Up with a little bit of Rita Ora’s Anywhere thrown in for good measure. Both surprising, but also distinctly ‘Kylie’, it’s also notable for the lyrics, which she co-wrote. On the one hand it’s an ode to shaking your stuff on the dance floor, but look a little deeper and could Kylie be singing about her own mortality?
The parent album, Golden, was recorded in Nashville, which Kylie described as a “collision of some elements of country and dance, made at the altar of Dolly Parton, standing on a dance floor”. It was declared “career-defining” upon release, and provided the star with her seventh UK number 1 album. Not bad, considering she’s now over 30 years into her musical career.
These days, nobody blinks a mud-crusted eyelid at pop acts like Beyoncé and Katy Perry performing at Worthy Farm, but when Kylie was announced as the headline act in 2005 it had the Glasto purists up in arms.
Sadly, Kylie never got to realise her dream when she had to pull out of the planned performance after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She made a brief guest appearance with the Scissor Sisters in 2010, but in 2019, her time finally came when she drew a record crowd of 100,000 for her Sunday afternoon Legends spot.
From the moment she arrived on stage - providing us with the gif of the year - even Kylie looked like she couldn’t quite believe it was finally happening. And boy, was it worth the wait. All the hits, four costume changes, rainbow glitter cannons, tears, one huge singalong and a star still very much at the top of her game.
Long may she reign.