Step Back in Time: tracing popular music, media, and memory through Kylie Minogue 2

Step Back in Time: tracing popular music, media, and memory through Kylie Minogue

It was October 1989 and I had just turned 11. Every Friday after watching Fun House, Rude Dog and the Dweebs, and Knightmare I would get ready for youth club, which was held in a local community hall, where we’d badly make Papier Mache pots, or dance to music. It was thrilling seeing people from school outside of it, and with it being a Friday evening, this gave the club so much energy and promise. Receiving it for my Birthday on cassette, Kylie’s second album, Enjoy Yourself, soon carved itself out as my soundtrack for getting ready for this evening out, with the songs ‘Wouldn’t Change a Thing’, and ‘Never Too Late’ injecting a certain excitement. Even today when I hear these songs, I’m transported back to memories of these moments and how it felt at the time – feelings that are so strongly imbued with the music they seem inseparable. 

One Friday at the youth club someone excitedly mentioned there were newly arrived sweets from the USA named M&Ms that were being sold in the café. I had seen these advertised in Smash Hits, and, thrilled at the thought of something from America, we revelled in buying packs of these and ate them on the dance floor, crunching away and dancing around to the latest chart hits by Kylie, Whitney Houston, Richard Marx and Bros. Kylie, Jason and Neighbours were deeply imbued with school, with break times allowing many to excitedly swap stickers from the popular Neighbours sticker album, and open new sticker packs bought in the shops together, holding their breath as they opened the packs, hoping for the elusive stickers they needed.

Fast forward to a year later and for Christmas 1990 I receive Kylie’s third studio album, Rhythm of Love, on cassette as a present from my parents, and I play this as we open our presents. The songs within, such as ‘Better the Devil You Know’, ’Step Back in Time’, and ‘Shocked’, gave a punchy excitement to the day. Even now, this album evokes strong memories for me of that day, and I often seek it out at Christmas to play, using it as a soundtrack to conjure old memories, and foster new ones.

And, of course, it always comes back to Smash Hits. It always will, for me. Kylie was frequently in the magazine, and I have vivid memories of her being on the cover, with my younger self reading the interviews with titles such as ‘”Corky O’Reilly! It’s Kylie!!!” (27 July 1988) and ‘It’s … Smylie Minogue!!!’ (19 October 1988). It was these media appearances that added further layers to the music – I would learn the lyrics to my favourite songs they printed, feeling the pages between my fingers – pages that offered such a gateway into music and a community with others to whom music mattered just as much. 

Although Kylie’s music continues to thrill and matter to me, her songs have been a constant presence through my life as it has unfolded. They have deeply burrowed into each changing decade, shifting as I have shifted through life. These reflections demonstrate C. Lee Harrington and Denise D. Bielby’s argument that “media texts and technologies help unite cohorts, define generations and cross-generational differences, and give structure and meaning to our lives as they unfold” (2010: 431). Jude Rogers’ moving and deeply impressive recent book The Sound of Being Human (2022) also beautifully observes that “songs make us remember all those details of who we have been and where we have been. We live with them and within them” (p. 284). And so it is, as we unfold, so does the musician, with the music transporting us both through decades, an invisible thread that binds us together, connecting music and memory through time. 

References

Harrington, C. Lee and Denise D. Bielby (2010) ‘A life course perspective on fandom’ in International Journal of Cultural Studies, 13.5, pp. 429–450.

Rogers, J. (2022) The Sound of Being Human. London : White Rabbit.

Step Back in Time: tracing popular music, media, and memory through Kylie Minogue

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.