Kylie Minogue: 'Enjoy Yourself' Revisited

Kylie Minogue: ‘Enjoy Yourself’ Revisited

Everybody everywhere on Earth (probably) knows about the Second Album curse. Lucky for Kylie Minogue – and us – that is very much not applicable here. As second albums go, this is probably one of my all-time favourites, not least because way back in the mid-to-late 1980s I was forever off school ill with everything from chickenpox, mumps, measles, and rubella, to the dreaded Tonsillitis of Doom that I had pretty much all of the time between 1986 and 1991. I think the longest I went without a tonsillitis diagnosis back then (not to mention the constant ear drops and a damn-near endless supply of that bloody awful bright yellow ‘banana-flavoured’ Amoxycillin. You know the stuff…) was only about three months.

There’s only so much daytime television anyone can handle before they can’t cope anymore, and I’m fairly certain I exhausted the Kids’ Section of the local video rental place. When even the enormous box of crayons couldn’t keep me entertained I turned to music, specifically, Kylie Minogue. I loved her and everything she did back then. And her second album Enjoy Yourself was my favourite thing to play. I don’t even know if it belonged to me or my sister, but it ended up in my possession most of the time anyway. I would play it on repeat while I was curled up on the sofa under a big blanket, or at the Big Table with the sleeve unravelled and spread out. I was determined to learn the words!

Enjoy Yourself is crammed full of tracks made for dancing and singing, and almost all of them are upbeat and fun. In short, the album is a great example of Classic ’80s Kylie. Released in the UK on the 9th of October 1989 (when I was mere days from turning eight years old), according to Wikipedia – the Font of Very Basic Knowledge, Enjoy Yourself is a “bubblegum pop, dance-pop, and disco album“. And while, yes, that’s probably true technically, what it is (or was) to a perpetually poorly little girl, was something sweet and fun and made everything feel better, even just for a little while. So, what’s all the fuss about?

Hand On Your Heart – As opening tracks go, this one is a belter! True, the video is a little sketchy, cheap, and a bit tacky, but Kylie makes the most of it. And, honestly, with such a great tune, who cares about a naff video? It was the first of four singles released from the album. ‘Hand On Your Heart’ is the epitome (if you’re asking me, that is) of a purely fun pop song.

Wouldn’t Change A Thing – The pop party vibes continue with ‘Wouldn’t Change A Thing’. It would make a pretty damn good choice for karaoke if you’re into that sort of thing. This was the second single taken from the album and it’s easy to understand why.

Never Too Late – It was here that I started paying closer attention to the lyrics. And it’s right around this point you might start to wonder how long the feel-good vibes are going to last. Is the inevitable breaking point – the pain and the suffering and the crying – imminent? Yes, pretty much all of the tracks are about relationships, but this is the fun part, isn’t it? When does the pain and heartbreak come in? I’m not ready for that yet! Hearing the lyrics as a 40-year-old, is it actually too late? Say it isn’t so! Even Kylie herself says “we’ve still got time.”

Nothing To Lose – Oh, Lord. Maybe things really are doomed. Then again, “Everything to gain and nothing to lose” are positive and confident lyrics, right? That has to be a good sign. But wait! “I won’t share you with any other girl” – Woah, hold on, there. They’re cheating? On Kylie?! “But I realised you may decide/Maybe you just don’t want me…” You know, for something that’s kind of bleak and sad (in terms of the lyrics), it’s upbeat and cheerful (in terms of the music). While the lyrics and melodies might appear to be at odds with each other, it does conjure up the idea of hanging onto hope and trying to remain calm and confident, hoping for the best outcome. Or rather, the outcome you want. I don’t know about you, but I’m not into the whole Be Positive No Matter What thing. It’s a cliché and I’ll be having none of that, thank you.

Tell-Tale Signs – Here it comes. The realisation that the love of Kylie’s life might be lost for good. The signs and the red flags were all there we just happily skipped by with our fingers in our ears and looking in every direction but at them and then BAM! There they are. Oozing and dripping emotion and loss and, damn it, now we’re all sad and full of regret. But the song is still lovely, so at least there’s that. Pass me the Haagen Dazs, though. And a spoon.

My Secret Heart – Ah, yes. The filler track. Almost every album has at least one. But when you’re a child, it’s nothing more than a cute song with a simple (and slightly boring) melody about having a secret crush on someone. It’s not quite ‘Secret Love’ by Doris Day, but it’s trying.

I’m Over Dreaming (Over You) – This ‘cheerful and upbeat even though everything sucks and the object of our affections is a terrible person’ thing is definitely a choice Stock Aitken and Waterman have made, but I’m not all that mad about it – though I probably should be. What I am mad at is the fact that Kylie is being far too polite. Just tell the piece of shit to bugger off once and for all. “Why am I waiting for you when you treat me like you do?” I don’t know, but it needs to stop.

Tears On My Pillow – As cover versions go it’s not a bad one. But come on, you’re still going to give this person another chance? Why?! WHY?! At the time of recording the album, Kylie Minogue was in her early 20s, so I suppose it’s not out of her range of experience with relationships and things back then. That said, the added benefit of being almost twice that age, it definitely makes things seem very different – and not in a good way. Anyone else looking in would be screaming for her to run far, far away from this toxic bullshit. Just because a partner or love interest shows you affection and a bit of attention, you absolutely don’t have to tolerate this crap.

Heaven and Earth“I don’t really need to be the one/To tell you things are going wrong/Because it’s obvious,” she says. Finally! I mean, that’s a start and a “step in the right direction”, I suppose. Enjoy Yourself – as an album, lyrically – seems like an odd choice to make for a title. These relationships (or maybe it’s just the one relationship, which is far worse) are not enjoyable. And they take up far too much time, effort and patience, and quite frankly, it’s not worth it, in my opinion.

Enjoy Yourself – Curiously, the title track comes at the very end of the album. The energy is very much the same as the first couple of tracks. Lyrically, it doesn’t seem to be about a relationship specifically, but it is full – to the point of almost being comical – of cliché after cliché… “Never let life get you down,”“Take your chances while you can,”“Don’t wait ’til tomorrow when you should be living for today,”“Nothing comes to those who will not try,”… It’s just relentless toxic positivity, really. They are the mantras of the broken.

What is clear – and increasingly so – is that adulthood and all of the bullshit that comes with it has definitely clouded this album from my childhood. Oh, to have even a small piece of that back again! Who knew that something that always seemed so happy and confident and uplifting would turn out to be sinister and sad?

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.