Kylie Minogue Has Always Been That Girl

kylie minogue photo collage from different eras

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What makes a legend? Admiration? Influence? Talent? Consistency? It’s all of those things. It’s Kylie Minogue.

With an almost 40-year career that includes 16 studio albums, over 80 million record sales and more than 10.1 million single sales, Kylie Minogue is the highest-selling Australian female artist of all time. 

As impressive as they are, it’s not Kylie’s numbers that make the star. It’s the brand she’s built for herself as someone who deeply cares about the craft of making music, who adores her fans — largely made up of the queer community — that crowns her the Princess of Pop. 

And yet, for someone with such a long, prolific career in music, it feels like the world is only just catching up to the power of Kylie Minogue — thanks, in part, to the success of ‘Padam Padam’. But it’s time to set the record straight. Kylie’s always been that girl. 

The Kylie Minogue Impact 

If someone tells you they’ve never heard a Kylie Minogue song they are absolutely lying. Living in Australia there is nowhere to escape from Kylie’s music. I, for one, think they should be played in every corner of the country but this is why I don’t run the nation. 

When a Kylie song comes on at the club — both straight and gay — it’s a safe bet that almost everyone is dancing. Bodies swaying, hands in the air, hips shaking as they mouth lyrics like “I’m spinning around, move out of my way” or the iconic “La-la-la, la-la-la-la-la” intro of ‘Can’t Get You out of My Head’. Kylie’s music translates seamlessly onto the dance floor as if she made it in the DJ booth. As if she’s studied what beat, what rhythm, what lyric will make people move. The dance floor is where Kylie’s music comes alive. It’s been her battleground for almost 40 years. 

Kylie feels like a giant walking among the pop girlies of today. Since ‘Spinning Around’ she’s been teaching all of us how to make pure pop records. You can hear Kylie’s influence in Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia, in just about every Ava Maxx song ever produced, in Kim Petras’ music, and in Katy Perry’s Witness and Teenage Dream. After their collaboration on ‘Real Groove’, Dua said that Kylie Minogue has always been an inspiration since she was a kid and that she’s “the queen” of pop music. That’s not an overstatement. Kylie has had at least one Number 1 album in the ‘80s, ‘90s, ‘00s, ‘10s, and ‘20s. The only female artist to achieve this. 

There’s an untouchability when it comes to the consistency of Kylie and her unwavering dedication to creating life-affirming music. Pop regularly pushes out older women for the new, flashy star but Kylie, like a chameleon, changes colour to match the backdrop of the current scene. At 55 years of age, despite having a career formed largely before social media and Spotify, she’s achieved what many pop stars long for — a viral TikTok sensation that translates to streams. ‘Padam Padam’ has had over 73 million streams on Spotify, topping the UK Big Top 40. It’s her highest charting single since 2014.

Proving people wrong has always been where Kylie Minogue thrives. After she was infamously called “the singing budgie”, Kylie broke through the soap actress mould with ‘Locomotion’ in 1987. Then she effortlessly traversed genres like country on Golden, R&B, trip-hop, and electronica on Impossible Princess, disco-pop on Disco, Brit-pop on Light Years, and of course the iconic dance-pop masterclass that is Fever, an album that I’m convinced holds the secret to world peace. 

I’ve long wished to have been born earlier so that I could experience ‘In Your Eyes’ and ‘Love At First Sight’ in a nightclub instead of in front of my bathroom mirror. But the perseverance of Kylie means I still can have my moment on the dance floor with ‘Tension’, ‘Supernova’, and probably every song from Tension

Building The Tension

Tension marks Kylie’s 16th studio album. This kind of longevity would see many others struggling to keep up with a new sound and look. But Kylie isn’t just keeping up, she’s dominating.  

I’ve mentioned before that I believe Tension will be one of the best pop records of the year and I stand firm in that conviction. ‘Padam Padam’ breathed fresh air into the Kylie brand, which had laid dormant since Golden in 2018. This kind of commercial success, however, hadn’t been seen from Kylie since 2010. The lead single stormed the UK Top 10, making her one of only four women to do so across five separate decades, putting her in the company of stars like Cher, Lulu, and Diana Ross. And it’s already been nominated for four ARIA awards

‘Padam Padam’ grew a life well beyond what Kylie had ever imagined. The queer community grasped hold of it for dear life (as we do anything Kylie-related). The most shocking success has come from the attention of younger generations on TikTok, many of whom had never heard of Kylie Minogue. “It’s funny because I see people who have discovered me through ‘Padam’ and they’ve never heard of ‘Locomotion’ or ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’, which is alarming but also exciting,” Kylie told AFP, “To have this new generation loving it, they’re so open-minded and accepting of me at my age, it gives me more energy.” 

Kylie has said that there isn’t a specific theme to Tension. Rather, she wanted to focus on “finding the heart or the fun or the fantasy of that moment.” To me, Tension feels like a culmination of what we’ve always loved about Kylie. Pop, disco, embracing sex and sensuality, and just being free and having fun on the dance floor. It’s a love letter to the people and spaces who have always lifted her up. 

Not Just A Pop Star, But A Fashion Icon Too

It would be remiss of me to not bring up the fact that Kylie is a certified fashion icon. Kylie uses fashion as a tool to elevate her music, paying homage to whatever era she’s currently in. A true pop star not only understands how to make good music but also how to turn a look. She’s worked with legends in the fashion industry like Jean Paul Gaultier, Stella McCartney, and Alexander McQueen. She also worked with emerging designers like David Koma, Gareth Pugh, and Richard Nicolls. 

To cement her fashion legacy, Kylie has donated over 1000 items to the Arts Centre Melbourne — including her early costumes. Yes, the famous gold go-go shorts are there. 

People forget how much Kylie puts into her overall persona. Pop is about being flirty, fun, sexy, and free. Kylie has always delivered just that. Her fashion, dare I say, has always been ahead of its time. You can’t tell me that what Kylie wore on stage in 2002 is not something Olivia Rodrigo would wear today. 

Kylie: The People’s Pop Princess

Kylie Minogue was a name I always heard growing up. Songs like ‘Spinnin Around’ and ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ were commonplace on my CD mixes, my iPod Shuffle, and my school discos. She appeared on my TV screen on Neighbours and Kath & Kim. But it wasn’t until I stepped into my queerness more as an adult that I found myself fully stepping into the world of Kylie Minogue. 

It’s not an uncommon pipeline in the gay community. It’s almost a rite of passage to fall into your queer celebration as you fall in love with Kylie’s music. Full of unbridled joy, passion, and charisma, Kylie exudes femininity that I yearn to embody — after being forbidden to for so long. When I listen to her music I feel safe in a world she has created. Free of hate and shame. 

Having a strong queer following should be a key metric of success in my eyes. We devour pop and disco music so when something’s a hit, we will let you know. And Kylie has done this better than many other artists. She has, quite uniquely, appealed to multiple generations within the queer community. She’s like a modern day Mother Theresa in that way. She has loyal gay fans ranging from TikTok teens to those who were there for her in the ‘80s. In contrast, Madonna certainly has an enormous legacy in queer history but she has struggled to resonate so strongly with younger LGBTQI+ fans. 

Although it may have started off as an accident, Kylie doesn’t shy away from her queer following. She always seems to be at Mardi Gras (I once saw her being followed by a group of Kylie drag queens and it was the closest thing I could imagine to what Jesus and his disciples looked like) and publicly campaigned for same-sex marriage in Australia in 2017. At the time, she vowed not to marry her then-fiancé until same-sex marriage was legal. Icon shit. 

I’m definitely guilty of throwing the term “gay icon” around with reckless abandon. But when I really look it, there are only a few musicians who have truly advocated and fought for queer people when it wasn’t cool to. Madonna, Lady Gaga, Cher, Dolly Parton, Janet Jackson, and Kylie. Their unwavering commitment to queer advocacy has allowed them to grow massive (and feisty) fanbases. I actually think I would go to war for Kylie Minogue. 

For queer people, we get to choose our families. Kylie will always be a part of mine. 

Ky is a proud Kamilaroi and Dharug person and writer at Junkee. Follow them on Instagram or on X.

Image credit: Kylie Minogue YouTube / Rankin Archive / Spotify / Ali Mahdavi