I first met Kylie in 2000 when she signed to the record label I worked for as publicity director.
We’re still working together 21 years on. That’s a rare occurrence in an industry not always built on stability, consistency or even loyalty.
The news that she is to relocate to Australia came as a shock to those who have come to think of Kylie as British.
She has been a part of our lives and entrenched in our culture for so long.
But hers is an appeal that transcends borders and boundaries. No matter where she is in the world she is seen as one of us.
That’s a very hard schtick to pull off. For Kylie it’s easy because she is resolutely herself.
She is that person entertainers strive to be – a true national treasure.
Kylie is adored by Nick Cave, Chrissie Hynde, Rufus Wainwright, John Grant, the Manic Street Preachers, Prince Harry, the coolest young fashion designer and your granny.
She has achieved this without nastiness, stealth or blind ambition, never hitching her showgirl pony to a flyaway trend, never trying to catch a new wind that might take her too far away from a great pop song.
In the 21 years I’ve known her she has remained as normal and approachable as it’s possible to be when you walk into a room and the conversation stops.
Kylie bestrides fame by ignoring it.
My friend Helena remembers accompanying Kylie to major TV appearances when all Kylie would ask for was a toaster, a kettle and some crumpets (although Helena always turned up with a set of fairy lights to bring a touch of Hollywood sparkle to the dressing room).
A diva she is not.
Kylie makes the happiness happen
Quite simply, I will always think of Kylie as being like the best version of the girl next door.
The one you longed to be friends with who turned out to have enough talent and drive to power the national grid.
The writer Paul Flynn recently wrote that “she is the happiness in the room” and I can vouch for that.
In the face of adversity, she’s stoic.
In the face of cynicism, she’s upbeat.
And in the face of joy and celebration, she’s the free spirit who wants to dance on the table.
But she wants you up there dancing with her too.
Her Studio 54 themed 50th birthday party at London’s Chiltern Firehouse was one of the best parties I’ve ever been to.
We could all probably use some of that loving energy right now when our collective inner spark seems permanently dimmed by strife and worry.
I know I’m starting every day with a disco song and trying to channel my inner optimist.
I’m not saying we should dance our way to Armageddon. But the power of pop music – ephemeral, transient, cheaply potent and most other good things – can be as transformative and empowering as the most profound protest song.
The opposite of a one-hit wonder
Pop music can be a stifling arena, even for those with a talent that raises them high above the bar.
They are the exceptions. And they are few in number because some of the best singles in history have been one-off hits.
One hit wonders can often express the spirit of pop better than an artist trying desperately hard to attain longevity.
Kylie is one of the few who have eclipsed the normal rules of pop music. And she did this by releasing a stream of records that helped define their times.
The Fever music videos… where do I even start??? I’m grateful for the incredible directors, designers, dancers and ALL OF YOU for these videos (and a few versions of myself 😉) #KylieFever20 pic.twitter.com/YlYfb0Wu4r
— Kylie Minogue (@kylieminogue) October 1, 2021
Not for nothing are her older songs now appreciated by a new audience and reappraised by critics who were once dismissive.
Julie Burchill, the writer and controversialist who can eviscerate a victim with 10 barbed words, is someone who adores Kylie and who understands her unique power.
She writes that some of Kylie’s songs “bring back the events they soundtracked in my life with the pungency and poignancy of perfume – Better The Devil You Know, Shocked, Confide In Me and the majestic Can’t Get You Out Of My Head in 2001”.
I’m with Julie on that.
All hail Kylie, Queen of reinvention
Kylie rewrote the guidebook over and over again because she wasn’t stuck in an ivory tower watching her Neighbours reruns.
She was out there living life, from the gay bars of Dalston to the clubs of Manchester.
She was evolving amid the hedonism of 90s London into a person who believed in herself enough not to try to become someone else.
While some mocked her for being lightweight she was the one playing Scrabble with Salman Rushdie and recording with Nick Cave.
She was devising, financing and leading tours which would break records around the world.
She was in control.
So as we bid her au revoir, and wonder where our own lives will lead us next, I’m sure the woman who gave us I Should Be So Lucky won’t mind if I end on a touch of Camus:
“Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present”.