Why Kylie is (and Will Always Be) Queen
by Lucas Witherspoon
When examining Kylie Minogue’s popularity, it’s really easy to simplify her excellence by deeming her “the fucking queen,” but in today’s world, it seems pop stars are as disposable as Sarah Palin’s political career. Few pop singers last more than a few years before fading into either mediocrity or altogether obscurity, and the ones who do last are persistently fighting to stay relevant and subject to excessive criticism. Whether it’s Beyoncé being labeled anti-feminist or Britney’s oft-demeaned lackluster vocals, the biggest so-called “divas” in the music business aren’t immune to the acerbity.
Except for, that is, Kylie Minogue.
Don’t get me wrong, Kylie has experienced her fair share of criticism, but the critical pervasiveness between her and her contemporaries isn’t comparable. It’s easy enough to explain away her likeability: she’s gorgeous, amiable, and makes fantastically catchy music. That being said, those are qualities found in other big-name, mainstream pop artists as well: Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Rihanna, Mariah Carey, etc. So what is it that seemingly makes Kylie immune to the same sorts of criticisms that these other women experience? She’s loved by men and women ranging from homos to feminists.
I think that, as with someone like Madonna, part of Kylie’s longevity has been due to her ever-morphing image; each album brings about a new era. Unlike Madonna, however, Kylie as a person has never changed. While Madonna’s progression has brought us a faux-British accent, grill, and overall aura of pretension, Kylie has never strayed from the personality that made her such a likeable public figure to begin with. Of course she’s matured in age (flawlessly so) over the years, but her cultivation hasn’t resulted in a complete loss of sense of self, as has been the case with certain other iconic musical figures.
From the beginning, Kylie’s been consciously headstrong and decisive concerning her musical career. Initially, she went the prepackaged pop star route of the 80s, but it didn’t take long for Kylie to make others realize that she was not that girl. She couldn’t just be gussied up and packaged as a pedestrian sex symbol, à la Madonna–she actually had conviction, musically and in terms of her image.
That sentiment made itself present in her third album, Rhythm of Love. It produced the infamous gay anthem “Better the Devil You Know”, but more importantly marked the transition between what was expected of Kylie by her record company and what Kylie expected of herself, which was a desire for self-artistry.
Kylie released Rhythm of Love, as well as her prior two albums, under the PWL label before transferring to Deconstruction and eventually Parlophone. From a musical standpoint, Parlophone has been where she flourished. The label has unofficially garnered a reputation for allowing for creativity among its artists, particularly in terms of its most notable and profitable artist: Kylie.
Outside of her musical genius, though, Kylie’s managed to fine-craft an image that spans a singular classification. She’s not just a pop artist, she’s a cultural figure. Her status as a pop singer would stereotypically reap aspersion, but she’s somehow managed to supersede classification, and, as such, ignominy.
The feminist argument that’s been lodged against Beyoncé and the like isn’t applicable, because Kylie has never induced herself as being one-half of a man, nor has she ever sexually pandered specifically to a straight, male audience like her counterparts; rather than using her sexuality to her advantage, she embraces her sexuality. The lack of vocal excellence isn’t applicable, as is the case with Britney, and she doesn’t have to be vocally acrobatic like Christina, because she’s proven she has the vocal chops (see: “Your Disco Needs You” live). Her longevity hasn’t driven her to desperation, like Madonna. She has nothing to prove, other than the fact that she’s perpetually paradisiacal.
Oh, did I mention she also beat cancer?
That is why Kylie is and will always be the Queen of Pop.