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Guilty Pleasure: Kylie Minogue – Light Years

on September 19, 2010, 8:00am

I suppose if you saw me on the street, you probably wouldn’t be surprised that I have a certain affinity for Kylie Minogue’s “comeback” album Light Years. Having begrudgingly won a Jessica Simpson look-alike contest back in the day probably only cements the fact that I look like your average pop-tartlet. But considering my music tastes are firmly planted in the Faith No More/Queens of the Stone Age/Deftones genre and I tend to eschew anything too generic or radio-friendly, it’s no wonder that this pleasure of mine can somewhat be described as “guilty”.

So how did a stubborn punk/metal fan first find herself surrendering to the crime of this Kylie love? Well, it took a trip of a lifetime to do it.

The year was 2000, and I had naively decided to put my education on hold and go on a solo backpacking trip to New Zealand and Australia. I’m not sure why my parents thought a travel experience would be better education than college, but I guess they knew something at the time. Lord knows, it started a pattern of travel over responsibility that has continued to this day.

Somewhere along the way of staying in hostels, spending hours on backpacker buses, and drinking in strange bars, I began to lose some of that old self, as if I subconsciously sent her back to Canada. My eyes were opening and, more importantly, my ears were expanding. I started to really listen to the music I was hearing. Alone, out in two countries where no one knew my name, I was able to like what I wanted to like instead of what I thought I should like (an aftertaste of high school, I guess).

Surprisingly then, it was the song “Kids”, the rambunctious duet by Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams, that made me realize it was okay to like something popular. It was fun, it was catchy, and most of all, it opened me up to the carefree Australian lifestyle. I snapped up Light Years, and it quickly became the soundtrack to my time abroad. Sure, I looked like a total doofus while dancing to Minogue’s hit single, “Spinning Around”, at the East Coast nightclubs, but it was just another lesson in not caring what people think.

When I finally left Australia six months later, I made sure to stick my copy of Light Years into my Discman (yes, Discman). But the listening didn’t stop there. At my “welcome back” party, I snuck the album into the CD changer amongst all the nu metal and grunge. At this point in time, though Light Years was a huge hit in Australia and the UK, hitting #1 and #2 on the charts respectively, it hadn’t even made a dent in North America. My friends were quite surprised, maybe even pleasantly so, to hear that this was the “Locomotion” woman from the 1980’s, and I’ll always remember one of my friends — who was known for his more rough music tastes — asking me to “put that Kylie woman back on!”

Looking back at the album now, I find it’s still as catchy and relevant as ever. Minogue had been in the music business for almost 12 years by the time the album came out, and it’s easy to see how she’s influenced many of the more talented pop stars of today. Lady Gaga could in fact be the love child of Freddie Mercury and Kylie Minogue. Minogue’s flamboyancy, if not that perfectly toned tush, has certainly been passed down. Minogue is still touring with her fabulously elaborate stage shows and has continued to be a driving force in pop music (despite her brush with breast cancer that sent her into the media spotlight in 2005 and sidelined a few projects). I even reviewed her newest album Aphrodite, which was released in July of this year and explores a lot of the dance and disco-themed songs that made Light Years such a standout.

I still don’t listen to the radio much, and I’ll admit I’m rather stubborn when it comes to the music that crowds my iPod, but Aphrodite has joined Light Years on steady rotation — guilt-free.

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