CULTURE

Kylie Minogue brings her prospering music career to Athens for first time

Ironically, Kylie Minogue, one of the biggest-selling female pop stars in Europe and her native Australia, originally had not set her sights on a singing career. As a child and teen celebrity actress, Minogue, who played in a number of successful Australian TV serials, was planning to further her career in acting. But Minogue, now in her late 30s, is currently touring Europe as a pop-music icon. Her first ever show in Greece, scheduled for May 22 at the Terra Vibe venue on the outskirts of northern Athens, ranks as a mega-size spectacle. In terms of scale and ambition, the petite Australian is nowadays putting on shows that are as big as they get on the international circuit. Minogue will be riding into town from neighboring Istanbul – where the Australian performs two evenings earlier – on one of her production’s eight touring buses for the performers and roadies, Didi Music, the local promoter, has noted. The entourage also includes a convoy of 14 semitrailers. All that for a pop music idol who once believed she was headed for the big time in acting. A sudden change in direction, however, came about just as Minogue’s acting career had stretched beyond her homeland’s confines and turned her into a celebrity in the UK. That was back in 1987 when the actress, who featured in the Australian soap opera «Neighbours,» a success at home and in the UK, agreed to sing at a benefit show for an Australian Rules football club in Melbourne. Minogue chose to do Little Eva’s «Loco-Motion» and it was decided to submit a recording of the performance to Mushroom, a prime independent label at the time in Australia. The label’s A&R team thought little of Minogue’s song, but saw potential in releasing music by one of the country’s most popular young TV stars. When the song was rerecorded and released officially, in July 1987, it exceeded all expectations by becoming a national number one. Not long after, more music success awaited her in the UK. Minogue, the daughter of an accountant father and former-dancer mother, pounced at the prospect of an international singing career. Once again, though, the success that came was not without a touch of irony. The Australian performer, whose Australian label had formed a business relationship with the UK hit factory Stock, Aitken & Waterman – a conveyor-belt hitmaker for once-hot pop stars such as Dead or Alive, Samantha Fox, Bananarama, and Rick Astley – arrived in London to collaborate with the songwriting and producing trio. Like Minogue’s label back home, the London-based trio also saw potential in the popular Australian actress, but she was not seen as a top-priority figure. When she turned up at their London studios, the trio had forgotten about her arrival. «I Should Be So Lucky,» a song written quickly for her, as the aspiring pop star waited, gave her the first of several UK number one hits and second of many chart-toppers in Australia. Not surprisingly, the track’s success established Minogue as a priority for Stock, Aitken & Waterman. But she parted company with the songwriting and producing trio in 1992 after her string of top hits reached a dead end. For several years, Minogue’s popularity waned as she searched for ways to inject credibility to a sugar-coated pop career. Her relationship, in 1990, with former INXS frontman Michael Hutchence, who lived a short and dangerous life, was widely interpreted as an attempt to gain acceptance as a mature performer. The late Hutchence, who wrote the INXS hit song «Suicide Blonde» in reference to her, had said his favorite hobby was «corrupting Kylie.» Several years later, a duet with fellow Australian artist and notorious underground rock figure Nick Cave for his 1996 album «Murder Ballads» injected more badness into her sweet image. The benefits were mutual. The duet, «Where the Wild Roses Grow,» a major hit, added clout to Minogue’s reputation and linked the more peripheral Cave with the pop masses. The unlikely musical duo also performed the song during a number of Cave’s shows in Australia and Europe. Cave later declared that he had been interested in working with Minogue since hearing her song «Better the Devil You Know,» a 1990 release, which he described as containing one of «pop music’s most violent and distressing lyrics» while adding that «when Kylie Minogue sings these words, there is an innocence to her that makes the horror of this chilling lyric all the more compelling.» By 2000, Minogue’s singing career had reignited commercially, as was highlighted by her performance at the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics. She has sustained this popularity and, these days, is renowned for putting on big-scale elaborate shows. A major health scare three years ago, when Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery and therapy, halted her career. Indicative of her appeal, fans poured in the sympathies. During her recovery period, Minogue wrote a children’s book, «The Showgirl Princess,» released in 2006. Just days ago, while in Paris to launch her European tour, French Culture Minister Christine Albanel awarded Minogue an Arts and Letters medal, the latest accolade in a long and prospering career.