May 10

KYLIE MINOGUE – “I Should Be So Lucky”

Popular87 comments • 6,905 views

#604, 20th February 1988, video

They did their best work before her, and she ended up doing her best after them, but nonetheless Kylie Minogue was Stock Aitken and Waterman’s muse: the Dionne Warwick to their Bacharach and David, the Girls Aloud to their Xenomania, the point where their particular vision of pop and its place in the world found definitive expression. They’d worked out the basics – ordinary stars who embodied optimism and hard work, songs that were a distillation of everyday feelings, a pop that arrived quickly and left quickly, that courted its market shamelessly and gave a finger to the rest. But establishing the likes of Big Fun, or even Mel and Kim, with the public still took work. Ordinary wasn’t quite enough – people needed stories in their pop. That’s what Kylie brought.

Not her own story really – not yet at any rate – but a public profile based around her role as Charlene in Neighbours. The core PWL audience knew Kylie Minogue already, liked her and believed in her. The British audience for her on-screen wedding would outnumber Australia’s entire population. There was no real need to match the songs to the character – Kylie was on her way out of the soap anyway – but the alignment of PWL and the cross-generation pop culture sensation of Neighbours was exactly what Waterman and company needed. SAW’s singles would be like the daytime soaps – immediate but familiar, unmissable but regular, full of sunlight, lively and breezy and cheap.

Kylie Minogue was their perfect vehicle. Maybe it’s because “I Should Be So Lucky” comes after two bubblegum records whose singers strained for affect but her chirpy, thin voice, which I normally find irritating, cuts through “Lucky” with conviction and clarity. She sounds as unschooled and likeable now as she did back in 1988 – considerably more likeable if you’re me, who was exactly the wrong gender, age and taste for her and reacted to PWL with real venom.

Misplaced venom, though? I’m honestly torn. PWL worked to slash the mystery and theatre away from pop, and to reaffirm its connection with the (often much wider) audience light entertainment offered. They scorched British pop’s landscape, and the kind of fantastic, futuristic, preposterous groups I’d fallen in love with in the early 80s grew still thinner on the ground. 1988 was the nadir of my engagement with pop music, and while I never cut the cord entirely it was another decade before I got really enthused with it again.

Ideas like “mystery and theatre” are easy to invoke, though, and far harder to actually manifest: they begin to act as a wagged finger as much as an inspiration. By the late 80s there was a conceited laziness around much of pop and rock – we’ve seen plenty of examples of it in Popular and there’s more to come. PWL’s cheerfully functional records worked against that. The rot had set in on early 80s creativity long ago, no thanks to Stock Aitken and Waterman. So looking back on the start of their own “imperial phase” these records provoke mixed feelings. On the one hand they anticipate the clarity and craft of a lot of 00s teenpop – much of it also performed by actor-singers who knew how to sell a situation. On the other hand they’re a direct link to the gross cynicism of Simon Cowell, beside whom Waterman looks like Joe Meek.

“I Should Be So Lucky” has something of each. The first minute or so is an uncomplicated delight – thanks mostly to Kylie and how she pushes the song forward, but also thanks to the song itself. It’s first playful, then dreamy, then suddenly sad, and then it tumbles into the chorus and everything else in your brain is brutally erased. Then it does it all again – but the payoffs are smaller, the chorus more grating, and more grating still, and the chorus seems to become the whole world… and then there’s a deft instrumental break, another chorus, and the song ends. Every time I play it there’s that same progress from freshness to ruthlessness. But the freshness entices even though I know the ruthlessness is coming, so for now Kylie and SAW are just – just! – still on the side of good.



  1. 1
    wichita lineman on 19 May 2010 #

    Nicely put, but for me PWL’s best work was still to come, specifically Brother Beyond’s brace of top 10’ers, the Donna Summer singles and Big Fun’s Can’t Shake The Feeling. The PWL roadshows hadn’t yet started either, which cheerfully brought back the package tour/matinee performance aspect back to pop, and an opportunity for kids to wave banners that read “Jase is ace”. Could be seen as cynical, but no more than (continuing the Meek comparison) the Live It Up movie or adding then excising Heinz from the Tornados.

    As for this, I think I preferred all Kylie’s other major SAW-penned hits. Smash Hits’ first mention of it in Bitz said it was “not Every Loser Wins” which shows how no one was really expecting Kylie to have a pop career at all.

  2. 2
    lonepilgrim on 19 May 2010 #

    I can’t ever imagine wanting to choose to listen to this but I wouldn’t turn it off if it came on the radio so it’s a 5 at most for me.
    What’s interesting for me about the video (and very little else about it is) is how Kylie is not yet KYLIE. It’s just another acting job, a bit of fun, no commitment. Her blank grin reminded me of Betty Page at several points.

  3. 3
    Tom on 19 May 2010 #

    Nah, I’m not saying PWL were especially ruthless – though this single goes in particularly hard on the chorus – the “direct link” is as much a reference to Cowell and Waterman sharing a judging panel later in life, and certainly the production-line model PWL revived puts us further on the road to reality TV pop. They were cynical but not wholly gross, I’m trying to say.

  4. 4
    wichita lineman on 19 May 2010 #

    Yes, sorry, I twigged that and amended my comment : ) The chorus couldn’t be more ruthless.

  5. 5
    Billy Smart on 19 May 2010 #

    This single is – above and beyond else – a strikingly accurate description of unrequited love, especially as felt by a teenager. For once a relatively cheap and functional SAW production actually serves the song, placing the feelings in a context that feels ordinary and everyday, creating a sense of realism and verisimilitude – the unhappy would-be-lover is keeping going through what sounds like a life of homework and Saturday jobs. The charm lies in the gaucheness of the performance and arrangement. Put like that, it sounds like it should have been on Sarah Records – Pete Waterman was nothing if not indie!

  6. 6
    Billy Smart on 19 May 2010 #

    The reaction of my 16 year-old peers to this was aggrieved derision, tempered by sexually frustrated misogyny. Only simple-minded girls liked this pap, not like the omnipresent U2 gods. And that blankly-grinning Kylie girl wasn’t even sexy, it was agreed.

    Myself, I quite enjoyed it whenever it came on the radio and could empathise with it a lot more than most peer-approved rock (Morrissey excepted), the verses quickly becoming as memorable as the chorus. But I never thought of buying a copy – the song just seemed to be around all the time, anyway. And the ubiquity of Neighbours in 1988 UK teen life was a continual source of irritation to me.

  7. 7
    Billy Smart on 19 May 2010 #

    Number 2 Watch: Aha! Two weeks of Bomb The Bass’ ‘Beat ‘Dis’ a single that divided reaction absolutely, only loved or hated by my peers – ‘that’s just noise, he’s taking the piss, listen he’s just recorded an alarm clock’, etc. I thought that was fantastic and wished it could have got to the top.

    Then two weeks of Rick Astley’s ‘Together Forever’ which was rather less exciting. It’s no ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ that’s for sure.

  8. 8
    MikeMCSG on 19 May 2010 #

    22 years on and I’m still utterly indifferent to Kylie. I don’t fancy her – too small, no boobs – and her music, apart from the Nick Cave duet, just washes over me probably because her voice is so blank. I appreciate that she’s got that Aussie no-nonsense niceness about her but that’s as far as it goes

    The song itself has become so ubiquitous it seems pointless to comment any further.

    One for Rory here. Did Oz actor Daniel Abineri actually commit his parody “I Can See Her Nipples ” to vinyl or was it just a TV joke like Bernard Manning’s Smiths covers album ? I’ve never been able to find it on youtube.

  9. 9
    MBI on 19 May 2010 #

    As an American, this is my first exposure to this song. I’ve never been much of a SAW fan, but I’ve got some admiration for songs like “Never Gonna Give You Up,” “You Spin Me Round,” and I pretty much love everything they ever did with Bananarama.

    But “I Should Be So Lucky” is fucking abominable. The worst thing we’ve had on here since “Star Trekkin'”, and possibly worse than “Every Loser Wins” — Tom mentioned that he sometimes finds the SAW sound lazy, well, it doesn’t get much lazier than this. “I should be so lucky, lucky lucky lucky” is not a hook, and the SAW sound couldn’t possibly seem more tired than it does here. I would have to stretch to give this more than a 2.

  10. 10
    wichita lineman on 19 May 2010 #

    Re 7: As punishment for denying Bomb The Bass, Kylie’s next three singles stalled at no.2, including the odd chords and affecting melancholy of Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi (smashing video, too).

  11. 11
    Billy Smart on 19 May 2010 #

    Re 10; Those Kylie runners-up in full;

    Got To Be Certain – An underrated gem – Very much a sequel to this song – the unlucky girl’s next move, discovering a little self confidence. I find this record very touching.

    The Locomotion – however, really is quite toxically bad.

    Je Ne Sais Pas Porquoi – carries the narrative of the Kylie character forward with a lost love, trying for a grown-up sophistication that she almost but doesn’t doesn’t quite pull off. But don’t be too sad, kids – It will all come gloriously right for her in episode five when Popular rejoins the story!

  12. 12
    abaffledrepublic on 19 May 2010 #

    Coming after MARRS and before a forthcoming act who I can’t mention, Bomb the Bass’s Tim Simenon can consider himself unlucky to have been competing against Kylie. A fine effort for his debut single, but he bettered it a few months later with the fantastic double A side Megablast/Don’t Make Me Wait.

  13. 13
    JLucas on 19 May 2010 #

    Je Ne Sais Pas Porquoi was ruined for me when somebody pointed out that Kylie’s voice blatantly cuts out on the “I’m wondering why” line before the chorus, to be replaced by a session vocalist (Presumably Miriam Stockley, the unsung heroine of SAW).

    Anyway SAW undeniably churned out a LOT of crap around this time, but this record has a very very strong melody. If anything the production is what kills it. When she performs it now with more organic backing it really stands up.

    It’s a shame none of her quartet of incredible Rhythm Of Love singles hit the top spot. ‘What Do I Have To Do’ ‘Better The Devil You Know’ ‘Shocked’ and to a lesser extent Step Back In Time are all among the best work SAW ever did.

  14. 14
    Kat but logged out innit on 19 May 2010 #

    I adored Neighbours from the Scott and Charlene era onwards – my friend K had a Neighbours BOARD GAME where you had cards with different characters and plot lines and locations and had to make up a convincing storyline, a bit like Cluedo: [Mrs Mangle] sees [Daphne] snog [Shane] at [Lassiters] and [accidentally treads on Bouncer] etc. We all swapped Neighbours collecting cards too! I had loads of swapsies for Mrs Mangle’s rubbish boring niece Jane ([Jane] goes to [the prom] and [sits in the corner being emo while her best mate snogs Mike]).

    But despite my infatuation with early doors Neighbours it’s still hard for me to remember that Kylie’s main occupation was once ‘actress’, 22 years of pop vs 22 months of acting takes some dislodging. ISBSL is ok, very entertaining in terms of playground substitution of ‘rubber ducky’ and ‘mucky’ (she’s in the bloody BATH as well!). But at the time I have to say I preferred ‘Locomotion’ which had a DANCE. You’ve got to swing your PANTS now!

  15. 15
    thefatgit on 19 May 2010 #

    The last Thatcherite upswing before that dramatic fall from grace. If you were lucky, lucky, lucky enough to live in the South, have a job, get yourself on the housing ladder with one of those Right To Buy deals, then life was sweet. If you didn’t fit the Tory mould, then you were forgotten. A scared and lonely shadow in an underpass near Waterloo station where an IMAX cinema now stands. A jobless statistic trapped in benefits purgatory FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. A freezing pensioner unable to eat because you turned on an extra bar on the electric fire that day. Or you lived in the North.

    I’m just as conflicted as Tom, when it comes to this. In purely pop terms, this is an IMPORTANT RECORD. So much of what has followed on from this can tip their titfers in deference to Kylie and SAW and “I Should Be So Lucky”. Why? Well I can’t think of another late ’80s record that could engage so much of the after-shool crowd. Kylie was the “girl next-door”. Tomboy mechanic with the cute smile and the blonde bubble-perm from Neighbours. 5:30 pm time slot. Perfect. Pete Waterman could see it. The raw, malleable Kylie with an army of teenage fans, family friendly, Thatcher friendly, non-threatening persona…and she can sing. Perfect. Pete Waterman’s one size fits all brand of pop. Perfect. A combination that could not fail.

    So ISBL can be seen 2 ways: Perfect 80’s pop or the focal point for all that it stands for. Manufactured? Yes. Aspirational? The video sees Kylie in yuppie apartment setting, so…yes. The chorus seemed to attract the ire of every rockist with a pair of ears, but the kids. Oh, the kids loved it didn’t they? The song then, becomes this divider of opinion. Your judged on your appreciation of Kylie as if you’re down with The Evil Empire if you like her, or part of the Rebel Alliance if you hate her. No inbetween…black or white, Tory or Labour. Miss Minogue was the litmus test. In hindsight, that’s a little unfair on the poor girl. Hearing ISBL then, it’s placed somewhere in my memory as the backdrop to intense arguments and debates over Strongbows and Hedgehog crisps in a smoky pub. Hearing it now, it’s that far removed from those earnest conversations, all that remains is what PWL originally intended…a perfectly crafted pop song, from a production team at the top of their game. It’s an 8 from me.

  16. 16
    LondonLee on 19 May 2010 #

    I was going to say what JLucas did at #13. Her early singles with SAW were shrill, tinny crap to my ears (though catchy obviously) and it took that little layer of sophistication I heard on ‘Better The Devil..’ and ‘What Do I Have To Do’ for me to warm to her, the latter is easily my favourite SAW record. Perhaps not coincidentally that was also the first time I found her mildly fanciable.

  17. 17
    Hofmeister Bear on 19 May 2010 #

    It would be another 10 months before Scott and Charlene’s wedding went out in the UK as well. It’s already been said but the fundamental elements of ISBSL are textbook pure pop, it’s the production which lets it down. Nearly everything from SAW suffered the same problem – the production was either JUST the right side of cheap and cheerful, or just plain naff.

    Combined with the fact that the enduring popularity of Kylie has always baffled me means this is sub 5, No better than 4.

  18. 18
    Billy Smart on 19 May 2010 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: Oh what a career! Kylie’s UK TV appearances include;

    ANT AND DEC’S SATURDAY NIGHT TAKEAWAY: with James Pallister (Little Ant), Dylan McKenna Redshaw (Little Dec), Mark Evans (Voice Over), Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, Liberty X, Kylie Minogue, Lorraine Kelly (2003)

    AN AUDIENCE WITH…: Kylie Minogue (2001)

    CHRISTMAS MORNING WITH NOEL: with Gorden Kaye, Kuan Lee, Margaret Thatcher, Danny La Rue, David Steel, Kylie Minogue, Neil Kinnock, Harry Gration, John Leslie, Elton John (1987)

    THE CLIVE JAMES SHOW: with Kylie Minogue, Alexei Sayle (1995)

    DES O’CONNOR TONIGHT: with Tony Curtis, Jason Donovan, Vince Hill, Kylie Minogue (1988)

    DES O’CONNOR TONIGHT: with Michael Aspel, Kylie Minogue, Spike Milligan, Jim Bailey (1989)

    DES O’CONNOR TONIGHT: with Neil Sedaka, Kylie Minogue (1990)

    FRIDAY NIGHT WITH JONATHAN ROSS: with Kylie Minogue, Rob Brydon, Tenacious D (2002)

    FRIDAY NIGHT WITH WOGAN: with Gloria Steinem, Kylie Minogue (1992)

    THE HIPPODROME SHOW: with Eartha Kitt, Kylie Minogue, Brother Beyond, Gloria Estefan (1989)

    HORNE & CORDEN: with Mathew Baynton, Kellie Bright, Seroca Davis, Vilma Hollingbery, Kwame Kwei Armah, Nick Mohammed, Brendan Patricks, Tony Rohr, Kylie Minogue (2009)

    THE KYLIE SHOW (2007)

    LIVE FROM THE PALLADIUM: with Shirley Bassey, Robert Palmer, Kylie Minogue, Anita Dobson, Mike Reid, Tim Flavin (1988)

    THE NATIONAL LOTTERY LIVE: with Bob Monkhouse, Alan Dedicoat (The Voice of the Balls), Kylie Minogue, Paul O’Grady (1997)

    THE O ZONE: with Kylie Minogue, Luther Vandross (1994)

    THE O ZONE: with Kylie Minogue, Puff Daddy, Louise (1997)

    PARKINSON: with Bob Monkhouse, Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe, Kylie Minogue (2002)

    PARKINSON: with Kylie Minogue, Paul O’Grady, Robson Green, Peter Cincotti (2004)

    SATURDAY ZOO: with Kylie Minogue, Lenny Kravitz (1993)

    THE SMASH HITS POLL WINNERS PARTY: with Bros, Pat Sharp, Jason Donovan, Phillip Schofield, Kylie Minogue, Neneh Cherry, Big Fun, Soul II Soul, The London Boys, Sonia (1989)

    THE SMASH HITS POLL WINNERS PARTY: with Phillip Schofield, Bros, Jason Donovan, Kylie Minogue, Neneh Cherry, Big Fun, Soul II Soul, The London Boys, Sonia, Transvision Vamp (1990)

    THE SMASH HITS POLL WINNERS PARTY: with Louise, Marky Mark, Simon Mayo, Jordan Knight, Take That, Gloria Estefan, Kriss Kross, The Farm, Kylie Minogue, Right Said Fred (1992)

    STEVE WRIGHT’S PEOPLE SHOW: with Ivana Trump, Lulu, Kylie Minogue, Paul O’Grady (1994)

    STEVE WRIGHT’S PEOPLE SHOW: with Kylie & Dannii Minogue, Kermit, Rory Underwood (1995)

    SUNDAY, SUNDAY: with Bill Wyman, Alan Alda, Patrick Moore, Kylie Minogue, Michael Ball, Sue Carpenter, Craig Ferguson (1990)

    T•F•I• FRIDAY: with Cher, Ronald Fraser, Damon Albarn, Blur, Mick Hucknall, Kylie Minogue, Happy Mondays, Shaun Ryder, Simply Red (1996)

    T•F•I• FRIDAY: with Will Macdonald, Andrew the Barman, Echo & the Bunnymen, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Griff Rhys Jones, Melinda Messenger, Kylie Minogue, Ocean Colour Scene (1997)

    WOGAN: with Jason Donovan, Helen Lederer, Kylie Minogue, Mickey Rooney (1988)

    WOGAN: with Stuart Bell MP, Cleveland Family, Valerie Howarth, Kylie Minogue, Olivia Newton-John (1988)

    WOGAN: with Gareth Davies, Mark Duncan, Basil Farrer, Frank Finlay, Michaela King, Donna McGrath, Kylie Minogue, Jennifer Roachford, Frank Sumpter (1989)

    WOGAN: with P. J. O’Rourke, Kylie Minogue, Laurie Pike, Richard Ingrams, Gloria Hunniford (1991)

    THE WORD: with Keith Deans, Lindy Layton, Ellie Lane, Jesus Jones, Kylie Minogue, Alexander O’Neal (1991)

  19. 19
    flahr on 19 May 2010 #

    The backing track here is a constant pulse, much like “Don’t You Want Me”. In that song, everything was cold enough that it probably benefited; here it’s enough of a contrast with Kylie’s voice that it’s actually quite grating after a while. It is an insanely catchy song, though; a 6 is probably about right.

  20. 20
    Rory on 19 May 2010 #

    So here we are!

    I turned twenty in 1988, an uncomfortable age for a pop or rock music fan: an age when you can no longer ignore the fact that half of your musical heroes were recording their first big singles and albums when they had as many birthdays behind them as you. And what are you doing at 20? Buying their records (or CDs for the shiny new player you bought this very year) and reviewing them for the student magazine at uni, words to be read by a handful of your peers and then forgotten, when you should be writing scholarship-winning essays and award-winning first novels. If you have even the slightest ambition to do something creative with your life, but haven’t yet figured out how to pull it off, it can be hard to contemplate those who had it all figured out and were on their way at your age – let alone those who seemingly stumbled into their success.

    In 1988, Kylie was the most glaring example in the charts of My Age Group Made Good. She was only six months younger than me, yet by her 20th birthday had already had two massive hits in Australia, the second of which (i.e. this) was also massive in the UK. Yet she really did seem to be – to an Australian listener, particularly – the Girl Next Door. She sounded like our girls next door, looked like them, and seemed as unlikely a success as any of them would have been. The mythology surrounding her first hit, “Locomotion”, only underscored it: her impromptu performance of Little Eva’s song at an Aussie Rules charity event led to a signing by local label Mushroom Records, seven weeks at number one, and Australia’s biggest-selling single of the decade. Her Neighbours profile must have helped convince PWL to sign her, but they already knew they had potential chart gold on their hands; the SAW re-recording “The Loco-Motion” (with restored hyphen and definite article) duly reached the top five in the UK, US and Canada (rather contradicting the popular notion that Kylie was never able to crack the American market).

    Neighbours didn’t mean much to me – I was spending so much time on that student mag in 1987-88 that my TV-watching plummeted, not that I ever watched much soap – and a starring role in it, no matter how significant to its fans, didn’t seem like much basis for Pop Hugeness. The success of “Locomotion” (the non-SAW original) seemed instead to be a female counterpoint to another 1987 Australian number one, “He’s Gonna Step on You Again” by The Party Boys. The latter were a pub-rock supergroup, the musical equivalent of the footy players who cheered Kylie and her fellow cast-members on at that charity event. Both songs were covers, both seemed like one-offs, and both gave little indication of what was to come. (“He’s Gonna Step On You Again” will be better known to many as the version recorded by the Happy Mondays a few years later, under the snappier title “Step On”.)

    So when Kylie became properly huge, which in 1980s Australia meant internationally huge, it was hard not to feel a tinge of envy – a tinge which would have been so much worse for an aspiring musician instead of writer/cartoonist like myself, but still a tinge. I’m sure I never thought it at the time, but there had to be some reason Kylie’s success seemed so objectionable compared to all the other naff pop of the day – some reason over and beyond this annoyingly catchy, very average song. (How much worse it must be today for Stefani Germanotta’s peers to contemplate her equally meteoric rise, with songs that are so much better – but I definitely sense something similar in some people’s reactions to the Gaga phenomenon. Forty-somethings like me, on the other hand, seem to warm to her easily, even having their dormant love of pop rekindled, perhaps because we’re no longer thinking “huh, what makes her so special?”.)

    If that unfocussed envy was ever there, it didn’t last; after “I Should Be So Lucky”, Kylie’s SAW hits seemed to blend one into another, and if duetting with Jason Donovan was success I figured she was welcome to it. It wasn’t until her post-SAW Australian number one “Confide in Me” that I started paying attention again, and looked beyond the bubbly image… but there’ll be another chance for Later-Kylie discussions.

    Meanwhile, I did have a brief flirtation with Neighbours a few years after Kylie’s tenure. In 1991 I spent a couple of months sharing a flat in Canberra with a friend who was a serious Ramsay Street addict, and caught several episodes despite myself. Later in the year, living in England as an international student, those episodes were just starting to screen on BBC1, and for a fleeting moment my advance knowledge of their plot points was small-talk gold. But did it translate into lasting social capital? Did Neighbours Knowledge score with the chicks? I should be so lucky.


    P.S.: Sorry, Mike, never heard of that one.

  21. 21
    lockedintheattic on 19 May 2010 #

    While this is obviously a significant record for various reasons, it’s also possibly my least favourite Kylie singles, I never really liked it at the time (and that’s as a big pop fan). Kylie has obviously never been truly happy with it either, presumably seeing it as an embarrassing start to her career – whenever I’ve seen her play live, this is always the one she does in a dramatically different arrangement (often as a ballad) as if she can’t quite acknowledge that this tinny little number was the one which launched her

    #13 – yes, I feel the same – Shocked, Step Back in Time, Better the Devil you Know & especially What Do I Have to Do are the highpoint of both SAW & Kylie’s careers, such an awesome run of singles.

    Also re. those number 2s – Kylie has been incredibly unlucky in her career, she’s managed to have more songs peaking at number 2 than any other artist, if she’d sold just a few more of each of her 10 number 2s we’d be seeing an awful lot more of her here over the next few years

  22. 22
    lockedintheattic on 19 May 2010 #

    #12 – I think ‘Beat Dis’ did make it to number one on the Chart Show chart, which was richly deserved, it was very much the next stage in the evolution of British dance music post MARRS.

    Another song that sadly just missed the top spot while Kylie was at number one was Vanessa Paradis’s Joe Le Taxi (although she may also have topped the chart show chart I think). That would have been quite an achievement – she’d have been one of the youngest ever number one singers, and in French too (have we had a foreign language number one yet? I know we have one coming up soonish….)

  23. 23
    swanstep on 19 May 2010 #

    Despite some good efforts at #8 and #9, clearly nobody’s hating on this record enough. Does The Sound of A Bright Young Britain (say in Rick from The Young Ones voice) mean nothing to you?

    In related news, the Wall Street Journal call you a ‘lucky ducky’ if you’re too poor to pay much if any income tax. Discuss!

    A 4 or 5 from me (but I really don’t want to talk about it either. if only we could just jump ahead to Ride on time/Vogue/The Power etc. – watching SAW lay pipe is too gruesome).

    Enjoyed Rory’s comment at #20.

  24. 24
    Garry on 20 May 2010 #

    I’m with Tom as this was around the time I started turning off pop – it would take a couple of years to fully make a break, but Kylie and Jason were both the start. I was only 11 but I remembered the radio on the fridge being tuned to pop for as long as I remember.

    I couldn’t stand Kylie, with the exception of the later Confide With Me. I especially couldn’t stand her duet with Cave. It may have been easy for me to dislike her as, being in a regional Australian area, we didn’t get Neighbours on the box. For me she was a whiny Aussie girl who didn’t deserve to stand next to the likes of Paul Kelly, Gangajang, The Church and other pop/rock on Austrlaian radio at the time.

  25. 25
    anto on 20 May 2010 #

    This review accurately sums up the mixed feelings this particular record induces.
    I marvel at the tracks sharp, glistening hit-single-ness, but it also makes me retrospectively sympathetic towards those who didn’t care for S/A/W and their ubiquity in 1987/88. You can hear them getting really cocky here. High on the success of their previous number one I Should Be So Lucky playfully treads that line between the immediacy of an undeniable hook and outright repetetive innanity.
    It stays in the right groove and it says a lot for the personality with which Kylie infuses it that by the end of its lengthy stay at the top we already thought of her as a pop star rather than a soap star who sings a bit. A privelege we correctly, and understandably did not grant Nick Berry.
    Just as an aside – a case can surely be made for Neighbours as being the non-musical tv programme that has had the most effect on the UK pop charts.

  26. 26
    anto on 20 May 2010 #

    Re 14: My sister had that board game as well. Teriffic fun.

  27. 27
    weej on 20 May 2010 #

    I was 8 years old, and this period unfortunately coincides with my following the charts, watching TOTP etc. At the time I knew this song was bad – everyone I knew from extended family to classmates to TV comedy was telling me so – but I couldn’t seem to get myself worked up about it in either direction, and the feeling hasn’t shifted in the following 22 years. I did have the parody record (Morris Minor & The Majors’ “This Is The Chorus”), which was hilarious at the time, grave doubts about how well it will have aged though.
    As for Kylie, there are only two of her singles (both post SAW) that I would give more than a 6 or 7 to – both of them unfortunately unbunnied – “Put Yourself In My Place” and “I Believe In You”.

  28. 28
    swanstep on 20 May 2010 #

    Kylie’s (unbunnyable)’Come into my world’ is niftily metronomic and precise, almost Kraftwerk-like (or perhaps DAF/Robert Gorl/Chris and Cosey-ish – anyhow *that* minimalist wave) in its control. Then Gondry’s video kicks things up to pop art of a v. high order indeed. This one thing was *so* great IMHO (and perhaps others feel the same way about the overall packages of Spinning around or Can’t get you outta (or its fusion with Blue monday)) that there is a sense in which Kylie has to get a (surprising to me) ‘lifetime pass’ as pop royalty. I used to think that the Beasties were the biggest surprise for a v. nice, long career coming out of the ’80s, but I now think maybe Kylie is.

  29. 29
    Snif on 20 May 2010 #

    “this is always the one she does in a dramatically different arrangement (often as a ballad) as if she can’t quite acknowledge that this tinny little number was the one which launched her”

    IIRC she used to be hugely embarrassed by this number, until Nick Cave (a self-confessed Kylie fan) convinced her to embrace her past and proudly throw it in back into the face of any pop doubters.

  30. 30
    TomLane on 20 May 2010 #

    Frothy Teen Pop, which sadly is not very memorable, even by SAW standards. But I wonder if it’s possible to separate this Kylie with the one who started making good stuff a decade later? This peaked at #28 in the States.

  31. 31
    MikeMCSG on 20 May 2010 #

    The talk of Aussie soaps reminds me that it was around this time that Granada started broadcasting “Prisoner Cell Block H” to which I became addicted. Are there any other Wentworth devotees here ?

  32. 32
    Hofmeister Bear on 20 May 2010 #

    #31: My late Grandmother, who was also a lover of ‘Crossroads’ and early Jackie Chan movies.

  33. 33
    Billy Smart on 20 May 2010 #

    Re 22: Beat Dis was number one in the other (NME/ Capital Radio) chart for two weeks. The most surprising anomaly between the two charts in 1988 happened in October when sinister drug anthem ‘We Call It Acieed’ was number one for a week in the non-Popular chart.

  34. 34
    punctum on 20 May 2010 #

    She was already in the car driving towards the city, even if she wasn’t herself driving, in one of two videos made for “I Should Be So Lucky.” She is cruising through the bright, yellow city of Melbourne, gleefully giggling her song of unattainable fantasy to camera, mounted on the back seat. In this imagination her adulthood is no complication.

    The other, more widely circulated video, however, seemed determined to keep her as the overgrown child star she strenuously didn’t want to be. She flips herself around a teenager’s boudoir, with crudely chalked “LUV”s and flower stems on a blackboard. “But dreaming’s all I do/If only they came true,” she sings, another frustrated teenybopper (then already pushing twenty) who knows she’ll never get to meet…Rick Astley?

    Some commentators at the time accused Kylie of not singing on her hit, and that it was in fact a speeded-up Astley; while one dimly saw the logic behind that at the time, her subsequent vocal history leaves no doubt that this is Kylie singing – Pete Waterman has confirmed that they had barely 45 minutes to get the song recorded and mixed, and indeed when she arrived at SAW’s Southwark studios directly from Heathrow they professed to have little idea about who she was, or of Neighbours, despite the latter having scored record audiences for the BBC, even in its daytime slot. Perhaps they wanted to deny the concept of Charlene Ramsey, sassy auto mechanic, in favour of…an Australian Mandy Smith? Even notwithstanding this, there is a strong case for arguing that the child in Kylie has never been truly eliminated; rather than being sensually attractive, she has tended to come across as a best mate, an upbeat sister, someone who’d nod sagely at Madonna’s grey-green Abbess and carry on munching crisps regardless.

    “I Should Be So Lucky” bounces with confidence and logic, fizzes with the anti-anatomical ecstasy which comes from the foreknowledge of being yet young and alive, right down to its subtle motivic quotation from “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” in its brief instrumental break; it senses that a past may have been lost, that a future is attainable (though “I Should Be So Lucky” might still be the lobby to the antechamber leading to her final freedom) but that the present, this early, still wintry 1988, was precious and had to be seized with hands of fervent, fragile grace (her downhill glide of “And I would come a-running,” knowing that she doesn’t give a damn about Captain Wentworth’s bank balance, only that it is so absolutely RIGHT!).

    There would be more cities for her car to approach, drive through and exit; some flimsily bright, some blearily dark, gates of gold, suburbs of setbacks, avenue of triumphant comebacks. It will be one of the strangest and most drawn-out stories to be told in Popular, but for now let us preserve in our inner eyes Kylie in her first car, enthusiastic and not yet defeated; and that “I Should Be So Lucky” defies its subject matter, and perhaps even its writers and producers, to bring tactile hope. The world should be so lucky.

  35. 35
    Billy Smart on 20 May 2010 #

    I’m sure I’ve heard Pete Waterman tell a version of that story where SAW weren’t expecting Kylie to arrive and they wrote the song in half an hour while she had a cup of tea, recorded it in half an hour and mixed it in half an hour! That’s such a great pop myth that I feel inclined to believe it, however implausible.

  36. 36
    Pete Baran on 20 May 2010 #

    Kat @14 – My friend Sef still has the Neighbours game and it gets pulled out quite regularly (last time in the Cask in October). We all spend about ten minutes writing a few extra cards (gets knighted, invents cold fusion) and it goes down well with a club sandwich and some Porter.

    As for Kylie, I have an almost identical arc to Tom in my appreciation of the song, I don’t turn it off when it rocks up of Kylie’s Greatest Hits but it reminds me of a diffident pop hating period. Kylie in particular allowed my rockest Debbie Gibson love in the manufactured actress vs pop genius viewpoint which would probably end up in my buying a Bruce Hornsby album the same day I went to an M25 rave and finally getting my head on straight.

    (Note I didn’t like the Hornsby or the rave that much, but it put me back on the path of liking what was easy to like. Even if that was occasionally the Senseless Things).

  37. 37
    will on 20 May 2010 #

    For me this is the second of SAW’s twin peaks (their first being Respectable).

    Why do I like it so?

    That third line ‘My heart is close to breaking’, where the production sounds off-kilter and literally delirious before Kylie pulls it back from the brink of insanity with ‘I’m Dreaming/ Like you’re in love with me…

    The way the verse aurally skips to the chorus on the lines ‘but dreaming’s all I do/ if only they’d come true.’

    It takes a certain kind of genius to know that rhyming ‘lucky’ with ‘lucky lucky lucky’ will work.

    The BRILLIANT stutter effect after the second chorus.

    The fact that it takes a dark subject matter – a young girl suffering delusional unrequited love – and fashions something joyful and ecstatic out of its misery. Unlike their other clients, SAW always seemed to put the work in with Kylie’s singles, but they never again pulled off something as perfectly executed and brilliantly arranged as this. For me, it’s worth nothing less than a 10.

  38. 38
    Mike Atkinson on 20 May 2010 #

    Oh, how I loathed and despised this record at the time: SAW’s ultimate betrayal; a cheap knock-off vehicle for some here today, gone tomorrow soap star with naff hair, naff clothes, a tinny voice and an annoying “everything is wonderful!” perma-grin; the most irritating chorus known to mankind, etc etc. The usual snooty hipster response, in other words – but I was a newly re-politicised 26 year old trendy club DJ, how could it have been otherwise?

    And speaking of trendy clubs – oh, the horror of witnessing the DJ at our city’s newest and trendiest club, dropping “I Should Be So Lucky” into the middle of his set on the opening night, while it was still at Number One! I nearly choked on the lime wedge that had been shoved into the top of my bottle of Sol.

    Despite all of this, I somehow knew that “Lucky” would be fondly remembered in twenty years’ time. So there were occasions in the intervening period where I tried to make myself like it – after all, it wasn’t as if I was SAW-averse, far from it indeed – but I always ran aground on That. Bloody. Chorus. And it wasn’t even as if Kylie was helping me much; if she performed “Lucky” at all, it was in an ironic supper-club style, or even (as I witnessed at Birmingham NEC in the early 00s) in an Ibiza trance version. Anything rather than sing it straight. “I know I’ll always be a little bit naff”, she once wisely observed – but not quite that naff, thank you.

    It wasn’t until, ooh, maybe four or five years ago that the scales finally fell from my ears – but then context is everything, and nostalgia is a powerful force. So I can now enjoy “Lucky” as a wistfully optimistic reminder of other people’s carefree youth – if not my own.

  39. 39
    Hofmeister Bear on 20 May 2010 #

    I see your ‘Respectable/Lucky’ and raise you ‘This Time I Know It’s For Real’, a song which sadly won’t be on this list by the time 1989 comes around (#3 in the UK charts). Summer allegedly refused to appear in the video to the follow up single ‘I Don’t Wanna Get Hurt’ because of a superstitious dislike for songs whose lyrics have a less than positive outlook.

  40. 40
    punctum on 20 May 2010 #

    There’s a chapter on “This Time I Know It’s For Real” in my upcoming book, The Blue In The Air, to be published by 0-Books in November. The perfect Christmas gift, even if the author does say so himself.

  41. 41
    thefatgit on 20 May 2010 #

    I’m glad there are a few more champions for this. I was beginning to feel like a lone voice for a bit there. The fact that I have warmed to it after so many years, simply put, is that I value the optimism of ISBSL more now, than I did then. And Kylie herself, was sugary sweet and bad for you then, but like many nostalgic conversations that drift into the realms of favourite childhood confectionery, it’s the sherbet dip-dabs and CurlyWurlys we remember most and with most fondness, even if they were incredibly messy to consume. So girl-next-door, innocent Kylie vs sophisticated, mature Kylie? It’s not really as simple as that. There are strong arguments for both.

  42. 42
    Rory on 20 May 2010 #

    My score of 4 represents warming to it after many years. I even considered a 5, but it’s still a record I endure more than find pleasant, so 4 it had to be. I don’t mind the first minute or so, but the bright shiny repetition soon outwears its welcome. Quite a feat, really, for something under three minutes long.

  43. 43
    vinylscot on 20 May 2010 #

    I’m rather surprised at the negativity surrounding this one. To me, it’s one of SAW’s crowning glories, and is closer to “You Spin Me Round” than to their later cr*p.

    I can only think that this negativity has more to do with what KM was to become, than the song itself. It’s as if this was not worthy of Dame Kylie, and it would have been more convenient for everyone of she had just skipped the first few bubble-gummy tunes…

    … but without this (and Locomotion) Kylie wouldn’t have had the chance to progress; she would have carried on being a middling Ozzie soap/tv star and we’d probably never have heard of her (in UK anyway) after she left Neighbours. There would have been no recording career; no gay “iconism”; no fairytale princess with the country (world?) willing her through yet another doomed personal relationship, or getting behind her during her (admittedly life-changing and totally not trivial) illness.

    Although Tom marked it one point higher, this seems less popular than its predecessor Tiffany’s rather poor bubble gum. I think if you strip away the “what came after” from this, and just concentrate on the song and the performance, it’s well worth a seven at least.

  44. 44
    MBI on 20 May 2010 #

    Again, speaking as someone who never ever heard this song before being exposed to it here, it’s mighty amusing to see people speak about this song in such weighty terms. I would never have guessed that this was Kylie’s “Like a Virgin,” — but again, that’s largely because I hate it so much.

    Gotta say that I don’t hear the “strong” melody everyone’s talking about; in fact, my main objection to this is the melody, particularly the chorus, is extremely sloppy and weak, and Kylie sounds terrible singing it. Moreover, it just sounds EXHAUSTED. Compare this to something genuinely effervescent (say, Bananarama’s “I Heard a Rumour”) and it feels to me like the difference should be stark and obvious. “You Spin Me Round” and “Never Gonna Give You Up” are nothing but energy from the first notes; meanwhile, “I Should Be So Lucky” is just a tired, limping slog of a song.

  45. 45
    David Belbin on 20 May 2010 #

    I seem to recall that Robert Plant (of Led Zeppelin) once covered this – or at least a snatch of it – but I can’t for the life of me remember what song he dropped it into. Probably not ‘Stairway To Heaven.’

  46. 46
    Rory on 20 May 2010 #

    Speaking only for myself, vinylscot, my “I Should Be So Lucky” animosity was fully formed at the outset, not developed in hindsight (and has softened because of what came later). “Locomotion” had been harmless party music, but “Lucky” was actively annoying. The response to the Kylie phenomenon I described above was based on her first two singles, not her subsequent pop career, which we had no inkling of. SAW by 1988 were seen as a musical sausage factory churning out a succession of disposable singers, and there was no reason to suspect that Kylie would be an exception.

    That’s another reason “Lucky” felt so significant in early 1988, even if you didn’t like the track itself. Which way was the Kylie phenomenon developing? Would SAW’s involvement be the end of her? Given their track record, that seemed quite plausible. Kylie was already on course for a pop career; “Locomotion” was huge in Australia before SAW had ever heard of her. (You can compare snippets of “Locomotion” and the SAW-produced “The Loco-Motion” at Wikipedia; they’re hardly worlds apart.) Who’s to say that her parallel-universe non-SAW career wouldn’t have ended up with some kind of UK success? On the other hand, she could equally have been Australia’s biggest one-hit wonder. Luck is such a large element of success, and Kylie was fortunate, fortunate, fortunate.

    If she hadn’t become a pop star, Kylie might have translated her soap stardom into a lasting TV or movie career. If there’d been no “Locomotion” and “Lucky”, critics might have hailed her 1989 movie The Delinquents as a breakthrough into serious acting, and I might even have gone to see it. But instead it was overshadowed by a pop career that was already far more successful than any small Australian movie could hope to be.

  47. 47
    FC Ljubljana but logged out innit on 20 May 2010 #

    The Locomotion is amazing. “My little baby sister can do it with ease!” AND KYLIE ACTUALLY HAD A LITTLE SISTER OMG. In the playground for some hilarious reason we swapped ‘come on baby, do the locomotion’ with ‘come on kiddies, do the the heavy metal stuff’ despite it not scanning very well.

    Pete @36 – I must play this game again! [Des] finds [magic door to Narnia] in [the Coffee Shop] and [takes this opportunity to shove Jane through it and throw away the key].

  48. 48
    Snif on 21 May 2010 #

    “There would have been no recording career; no gay “iconism”

    That’s something I’ve occasionally wondered: how does one get to be a gay icon? Who decides? What are the necessary criteria?

  49. 49
    LondonLee on 21 May 2010 #


  50. 50
    swanstep on 21 May 2010 #

    Garland and Monroe died v. young. Survival’s definitely optional!

  51. 51
    Mike Atkinson on 21 May 2010 #

    What are the necessary criteria?

    They’re best exemplified by Diana Spencer. As someone once noted, she passed through the following key stages:

    1981–1986 Fairytale princess
    1986–1992 Femme fatale
    1992–1997 Diva
    1997– Icon

  52. 52
    wichita lineman on 21 May 2010 #

    Judy Garland was a ‘survivor’ before she stopped surviving, if that makes sense. She survived Louis Mayer’s busy hands and decades of pill popping, but the show went on. Her final wedding was only attended by a very small number of gay friends – Johnnie Ray was best man because he just happened to be in town.

    Other gay icon ingredients: showgirl trappings – feathers, sequins, ie dressing like a proper pop star. But not being haughty. And having a camaraderie with fans. Kylie is but Laroux isn’t.

    Is Britney a gay icon since her breakdown?

    Is Geri Halliwell is the only singer I can think of who has tried REALLY HARD to be a gay icon (ticks most of the boxes above) but, as far as I’m aware, hasn’t become one.

  53. 53
    Mike Atkinson on 21 May 2010 #

    You need a certain vulnerability, masked with a certain attitude – most usually Tough Sassy Diva or Little Miss Sunshine. We respond to the tension between the two.

  54. 54
    Mike Atkinson on 21 May 2010 #

    And also neediness, of the your-love-will-validate-me variety. Although this doesn’t really apply to Kylie, admittedly.

    Triumph over adversity also scores well – failed marriages, battles with addiction, etc.

    And we also like it when an artist transcends their limitations, i.e. I know I’m not the most talented, but I am MAKING AN EFFORT. Again, it’s the tension that we respond to. This definitely applies to Kylie, and I’d say it also applied to Madonna circa Like A Prayer/Blonde Ambition.

  55. 55
    JLucas on 21 May 2010 #

    Rufus Wainwright pefectly described how Kylie has risen to the higher echelons of gay icon status.

    “[Madonna] subverts everything for her own gain. I went to see her London show and it was all so dour and humourless. She surpasses even Joan Crawford in terms of megalomania. Which in itself makes her a kind of dark, gay icon… I love Kylie, she’s the anti-Madonna. Self-knowledge is a truly beautiful thing and Kylie knows herself inside out. She is what she is and there is no attempt to make quasi-intellectual statements to substantiate it. She is the gay shorthand for joy.”

    I would add to that. Kylie makes high-quality, aspirational pop music and seems to genuinely enjoy it. Dozens of ageing female singers from Madonna and Cher to Sheena Easton and Geri Halliwell have recorded what might be described as ‘gay pop music’ but in a very deliberate attempt to score a hit. It comes across as patronising and joyless, something Kylie never is.

    Love At First Sight is in my opinion one of the most wonderful pop performances of the last decade. The song could have been middling in lesser hands, but Kylie’s performance enfuses it with pure unbridled joy. She loves what she does and she loves her fans. Anyone who has attended one of her concerts can attest to that. You never sense that she’s merely going through the motions (With the exception of her last days at SAW, but frankly who can blame her?)

  56. 56
    JLucas on 21 May 2010 #

    Geri Halliwell is an interesting example of somebody who attempted to announce and fashion herself as a gay icon. It worked at first, her early solo hits capture the cheeky charm of the best Spice Girls material. But it very quickly became laboured and irritating. It’s Raining Men was paradoxically her biggest hit and the song that killed her career, if you ask me.

  57. 57
    swanstep on 21 May 2010 #

    Kylie’s performance enfuses it with pure unbridled joy.
    I fail to hear any special performance quality on that track. Or any other really – she’s just not that sort of artist is she? Isn’t that the force of Wainwright’s observation? She’s the ultimate sunny, uncomplicated, unthreatening, disco dolly. Almost anyone else of note would bring bring more performance quality, but those extra colors and shadings and psychodramas and concepts are precisely what K. represents temporary freedom from.

  58. 58
    Billy Smart on 21 May 2010 #

    One of the things that makes (the best of) Kylie’s eighties hits so attractive is her gaucheness, like she’s stumbling into grown-up life. Madonna, however, sounds hard as nails and worldly-wise (Like A Virgin!) right from the off to me, even on Borderline and Holiday, which are probably her youngest songs.

  59. 59
    LondonLee on 21 May 2010 #

    Re: #50 Marilyn Monroe is a gay icon? News to me. I know she had the requisite tragic life but I’ve never thought of her as that.

    And, as said above, Judy Garland died relatively young but she was around a long, long time.

  60. 60
    lex on 21 May 2010 #

    I never know what to think about the “gay icon”: on the one hand, there are plenty I identify with, from Mariah to Tori to Madonna, but every time I see people try to define it, it feels a bit reductive, or not encompassing enough of the complexity that draws me to those figures. And similarly, there are “gay icons” who leave me cold – I utterly reject any taxonomy that requires me to give a shit about Princess Diana, for example – and I really hate the way that many third-tier pop stars presumptuously pitch their personae as the quintessential fag hag. Geri’s been covered, but it’s also present in a more subtle, and thus more actually irritating way with people like Sophie Ellis-Bextor. The kind of girl who goes “oooh I love gay men!” gets air from me.

    I’ve never understood why Kylie is a gay icon (let alone Dannii (pre-X Factor), for heaven’s sake – there’s rooting for the underdog and then there’s degrading yourself as well). I like a fair number of her songs, even love some, but in terms of what she herself brings to the table in terms of personality (vocal or otherwise) or charisma or, you know, anything distinctive at all, there’s absolutely no more reason she should have sustained a two-decade career than Rachel Stevens.

    As for this one, it’s sort of unhateable, but why or when I’d ever actively want to listen to it is beyond me. It’s actually one of the first songs I remember – not hearing it, but knowing about it, knowing how the chorus went because it was all over the primary school playground without necessarily knowing who Kylie was. Even that is not enough to make me feel active affection for it though, so 5.

  61. 61
    Erithian on 21 May 2010 #

    Not often one gets the chance to correct Punctum, but if you click from Tom’s video link to something called the “footage version” you’ll see the alternative video that he referred to at #34, and that definitely looks like, not Melbourne, but Sydney Harbour Bridge she’s being driven across by someone who looks a little bit like “Ooh” Gary Davies. I certainly agree, though, with Marcello’s implied comparison of the two videos. The footage-in-car version is the one I remember seeing first, and the one that created my image of Kylie.

    I’d never seen an episode of Neighbours – to this day I’ve seen maybe a handful when I’ve been off work or at my mum’s (does anybody else recognise that dangerous moment when you find yourself starting to care what happens to the characters next?!). But it seems that just as in the UK we huddled in the grip of winter and watched the loveable loser Eddie the Eagle in Calgary (Kylie reached number one in the middle of the Winter Olympics), a large number of us were taking the tonic of watching a soap set in a perpetual summer where troubles were never all that dark (set against Enders at least) and the sports teams usually won – although ironically England held the Ashes at that point, but were about to lose them for 16 years.

    And if I didn’t fall for Neighbours, I certainly fell for Kylie – the healthy good looks, the optimism, the joie de vivre. You wanted to be in the car with her, you wanted to be soaking up the sun, you wanted to be waving at her in that park. It might be a simple pop song she was singing, but who cares, life is fun and that was a concept everybody could buy into: Kylie spearheaded the next wave of Aussie-philia after Crocodile Dundee. A few years later I worked with a Melburnian and found her captivating company – she also frequented the Subterania club in London and was in no way as squeaky clean as Kylie. I’ve met a good few since, but I can honestly say I still haven’t met an Australian I didn’t like.

  62. 62
    Rory on 21 May 2010 #

    I thought “bright, yellow city of Melbourne” sounded a bit odd. Should have checked the alternative video myself – you’re absolutely right, Erithian. If the opening shot of the Centrepoint Tower (as it was then known) and the many views of the Coathanger don’t do it, there’s even a glimpse of the Opera House at 2.38…

    One point I meant to make in my earlier posts, and which leads on from Erithian’s, was that the timing here was significant: 1988 was Australia’s bicentenary, and all things (and people) Australian were getting more than the usual amount of international attention that year. Kylie couldn’t have chosen a better moment to put out her travel-promo video.

  63. 63
    thefatgit on 21 May 2010 #

    “I still haven’t met an Australian I didn’t like”

    Funny thing is, you’re OTM! They’re some of the friendliest people I’ve met. Not wanting to over-generalise, but they’re like the English without the repression and the Americans without the arrogance. And VB’s not a bad tipple either.

  64. 64
    Erithian on 21 May 2010 #

    Although when I made that comment to one Aussie, she said “God you’re lucky, I’ve met plenty…”

  65. 65
    swanstep on 22 May 2010 #

    #59 LondonLee. I dunno, I’m not an expert… but back when I’d go to gay mardi gras in Sydney there was always boatloads of Monroe cross-dressing going on. And Elton/Warhol etc. have their Monroe obsessions…. But, I agree, it’s all a bit murky. I have a vague sense that there’s a point in some artists careers *after* they’ve had some mainstream success when that same wider culture spurns them as too silly/frivolous/pop etc. that *then* they (may) get ‘claimed’ as the gay community’s own, and sometimes literally sustained by that sub-culture of fans. For a few years in the ’80s, Abba almost disappeared from mainstream cultural consciousness, and the only place you’d hear them out was gay dance-clubs. Abba came roaring back in the ’90s somewhat elevated/made cooler by that period of sub-cultural attention (or something). Something like that seemed to happen with Kylie in the ’90s (certainly in the US where I was). By the time she started having big crossover mainstream hits again in ’00s she had that base in the coastal gay metropoles locked in. (I’ve never really known a time when Billie Holliday has been unavailable/out of fashion but I’ve had knowledgable people assure me that appreciation of her has had some of the same arc.)

  66. 66
    DietMondrian on 22 May 2010 #

    I seem to recall Pete Waterman telling some unlikely tale of how the song title came about: realising he needed to write, record and mix a song for Kylie in a matter of hours, he supposedly said, “Yeah, I should be so lucky.” Yeah, right, Pete.

    The song? Tinny, cheap-sounding. Three out of 10 (would have scored less but it’s got a certain earwormy quality and I need to reserve the ones and twos for some forthcoming SAWness).

  67. 67
    23 Daves on 23 May 2010 #

    I realise I’m a bit late to this thread (and I’m also new here – hello!) but I was hoping somebody might be able to verify a fact about this record.

    I seem to remember that one of the criticisms which was fired at the single at the time was that it wasn’t actually as popular as its stretch at number one suggested. Apparently (if my memory is working properly) its fourth week at the top saw the lowest sales ever registered for a number one prior to that point, and the first, second and third week’s sales were also slight enough to only just nudge above the competition (hence “Beat Dis” being number one in various rival charts). Can anyone verify this? The track has certainly had an enormous amount of longevity for a low-selling number one if those reports are true.

    Personally, as a newly transformed indie kid I harboured a lot of ill will towards Stock Aitken and Waterman at this time and would regularly dismiss Kylie’s work to anyone who would listen. On relistening these days, I’m actually slightly surprised that my opinion hasn’t changed one jot, since I’ve left an awful lot of my snobbery behind for other singles of this period. I still find it tinny, irksome, and above all else rush-recorded (I can well believe those myths about SAW quickly writing and recording it in a few hours – it certainly sounds plausible, and it’s a mystery to me why they’d brag about it). Having given this some thought for the first time in years, I have to wonder if they weren’t really sure about Kylie’s potential at this point, and decided not to waste an enormous amount of studio time on her. Certainly, later Kylie productions sound a bit more considered and careful.

    This would have to be a 3 from me, I’m afraid.

  68. 68
    Alan on 23 May 2010 #

    my entirely un-authoratative (sp?) and heat-and-booze-shot recall is that the late show special ‘The 80s’ shown on NYE 1989 had Never Gonna Give You Up as the 80s song that sold the least in a week to get to #1.

    This wikip article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_Singles_Chart_records#Lowest_selling_number_one only mentions tracks starting in the 90s – but does mention another (obv bunnied) Kylie track

  69. 69
    Snif on 24 May 2010 #

    I see Pete Waterman wrote and produced this year’s UK entry for the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest…

  70. 70
    Tom on 24 May 2010 #

    #67 23 Daves – hello and welcome first-commenting person!

    #69 Yes he did – it has a few PWL-ish touches buried in a sea of slop

  71. 71
    lockedintheattic on 24 May 2010 #

    #69 – Not sure that fact about low weekly sales is correct, I don;t remember hearing it at the time, and this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Should_Be_So_Lucky states that it was the third best selling single of the year, so I doubt it’s weekly sales were that low. I do however definitely remember that her next but one number one did hit a new milestone in low sales for a number one (apols if that’s a bit too much info on a bunnyable song).

  72. 72
    23 Daves on 24 May 2010 #

    #71 – Thanks. I probably am getting muddled with a certain other Kylie single then, unless ISBSL’s fourth week at the top was an abnormally poor one. It seems surprisingly difficult to call these facts up online, actually – you would think that an authoritative overall sales list would be uploaded somewhere.

  73. 73
    rosie on 25 May 2010 #

    This is what I think of as the “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep” of the 1980s – not necessarily a damning comment because CCCC is a track for which I have a great deal more fondness and respect now than I did at the time, not least following Tom’s insightful fresh look in these pages. Its infectious, naive jolliness seemed to catch something of the spirit of the time, of a country growing increasingly tired of Thatcherism and looking for a new way through whimsy.

    It still irritates me though.

  74. 74
    loomer on 31 May 2010 #

    I’d give this 8 as it sparks some serious nostalgia and was when I first really got into music. Unsurprisingly, the backing track is identical to Sinitta’s “Toy Boy”, which I liked even better.

  75. 75
    Dave Roberts on 30 Jun 2010 #

    #71- I think you are correct. ‘Lucky’ sold by the bucket-load, and had sold well in excess of 500k by the time it had spent four weeks at number one. In it’s fifth week, it clung on to the top with quite low sales (c. 30k, I think?) which was very low for the top selling single in the UK at that time, although in overall terms I believe it sold over 650k and was in the top 4/5 best selling singles for the year (behind Cliff Richard, Yazz, and the Kylie/Jason duet.)

  76. 76
    auntypizza on 25 Jul 2010 #

    She should be so lucky . . . nasal tones (as per usual) and an unrelenting fakeness, mixed with boring “music” and an “I can’t put my finger on it” unnaturalness. A continiung ability to flash arse cheeks on all videos. Not a muscian or artist – it’s a carefully cultivated product. Get it off the shelves ASAP. I read the label and it’s all processed junk.

  77. 77
    MyopicFlashbulb on 24 Aug 2010 #

    Ive grown to like this over the years. The best version of this, is the inspired house version mashed up with Dreams, performed in the Fever tour in 2002. Spine Tingling..

    There is a certain naivety in the lyics, but in its simplicity it is also so real.

  78. 78
    Billy Smart on 23 Sep 2010 #

    Mike Stock defends ISBSL in today’s paper: “Anyone who thinks Kylie Minogue’s I Should Be So Lucky is easy should try to play it,” he says of the SAW number. “It’s in four keys, all of them really awkward, and you can’t even strum it unless you’re a really good musician.”

  79. 79
    punctum on 23 Sep 2010 #

    I thoroughly recommend Mike Stock’s memoir The Hit Factory: The Stock, Aitken & Waterman Story as a ribtickling read; it almost completely contradicts the account given by Waterman himself in I Wish I Was Me. Remember, folks, if you want to make it big, don’t listen to your friends down the pub!

  80. 80
    Patrick Mexico on 7 Jun 2013 #

    This is okay, I’m no Kylie expert but gave it a slightly guilty 6.

    As we don’t get to talk about the Loco-Motion here, just wanted to put it out there that it was the first pop song I ever remember, along with Tiffany’s “I Saw Her [Him] Standing There” and.. good God.. Sam Fox’s “I Only Want To Be With You.” For many, many years, I believed they were the originals. Probably a bad start in life. The Smiths/JAMC/Primal Scream/Talulah Gosh/Stone Roses lineage, I guess, despised the eighties seen through a lens of sixties nostalgia. I’d call that mostly harmless, but when it’s those who embraced and succeeded from the eighties (well, Thatcher/Reaganism) plundering sixties “innocence”.. it’s a trap.

    (The first pop song I actually remember liking was Squeeze – Cool For Cats, but any hip credentials are somewhat diluted by the facts I was five, and liked it because it was on a Milk Marketing Board ad.)


  81. 81
    Billy Hicks on 8 Jun 2013 #

    80 – As a fourteen year old I thought ‘I Love Rock and Roll’ was one of the best things Britney Spears had ever written. Couldn’t understand why everyone hated it…

  82. 82
    swanstep on 8 Jun 2013 #

    @81, Billy Hicks. If it’s any consolation, not one person in a thousand is aware that the Joan Jett version is a cover (of the Arrows’ original).

  83. 83
    PurpleKylie on 18 May 2014 #

    My birthday #1! At least in the UK it was, over in NZ (where I was actually born) my birthday #1 was MARRS “Pump Up the Volume” (seems that they were quite late on that one).

    I have a bit of a soft spot for this one, which may or may not be due to that fact, yes its really cheesy and quite cheap, but it’s the right side of cheesy and brings a smile to my face.

  84. 84
    hectorthebat on 16 Feb 2015 #

    Critic watch:

    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Gary Mulholland (UK) – This Is Uncool: The 500 Best Singles Since Punk Rock (2002)
    Toby Creswell (Australia) – 1001 Songs (2005)

  85. 85
    thefatgit on 9 May 2016 #

    RIP Reg Grundy. The man who brought Neighbours into the world, among his many other achievements.

  86. 86
    Phil on 9 May 2016 #

    Looking at the chords and decoding the relative minors as best I can, it looks as if the first verse is in E, the second’s in B, the little “dreaming’s all I do” pre-chorus section is in D (the saddest of all keys) and the chorus is in C, as major-key as a major key can be. And Mike Stock’s right – at least two of those are tough, whatever your instrument is (AIUI guitarists are unreasonably happy to work in E, but presumably that means they find modulating to D a bit of a stretch – and nobody mention capos, unless you’ve worked out how to put one on between one bar and the next!). Perhaps Stock & Aitken came not to kill prog but to realise it in a higher form…

    Listening to this song again I thought they’d tried to make Kylie’s voice sound full-bodied, even throaty in places – listen to that first line – but that the effect was undermined slightly by the fact that they’d obviously achieved it through multi-tracking. My only other thought – apart from nodding along to all those chord changes – was why does it have to be so tinkly? Did it always sound like that? It was irritating me royally by the end.

    Oh, and RIP Reg. Always got him mixed up with Bill, who I believe left us some time ago.

  87. 87
    Mostro on 26 May 2016 #

    MBI @44; “It’s mighty amusing to see people speak about this song in such weighty terms. I would never have guessed that this was Kylie’s “Like a Virgin,””

    It’s not that the song itself was really ever considered particularly remarkable. If anything, it’s almost always been dismissed as being utterly, lightweight fluff. (And I do agree that there’s something slightly lethargic about the backing despite its fast pace).

    The reason for its iconic status is that it manged to both hit and sum up so many points of late 80s popular culture in the UK. Kylie’s first hit. The fad for Neighbours and everything Australian. Production-line-era S/A/W manufactured pop- for good or for bad. Even for those that hated this sort of thing, Kylie and “I Should Be So Lucky” were the archetypal, go-to examples of it.

    Coincidentally, that’s pretty much the conclusion I came to recently regarding “Like a Virgin”. It’s a song I’ve never cared for; didn’t like it when I was nine or so and it first came out, and thirty years on it leaves me as cold as ever. All I hear is a mediocre song with Madonna’s studio-assisted(?) helium vocals warbling annoyingly over a backing track obviously aiming for minimalism, but ending up sounding gratingly underproduced and synthetic. (That bassline… ugh.) Not Nile Rodgers’ finest hour.

    And yet, it’s still an iconic 80s track. Having wondered what the big deal was, I realised that this was missing the point. “Like a Virgin” wasn’t Madonna’s first big hit, but it *was* the point at which she jumped from being “merely” a successful dance pop star to a pop culture phenomenon. The point at which the aspects of her personality and “controversial” image people now associate with her were first established in the public mind. In short, it was the point at which Madonna became Madonna.

    The song itself? Well, I guess you could say that it’s Madonna’s “I Should Be So Lucky”…. or maybe not.

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