Author: Simon Sheridan
What They Say
2012 sees Kylie Minogue celebrating 25 years of pop superstardom. From the first time soap fans saw her dressed in mechanic’s overalls in Neighbours, to her current standing as an international icon, Kylie has enjoyed an untarnished love affair with the public. Kylie’s expertise at transforming her image – from fresh-faced teenager to sexy showgirl – has endeared her to successive generation of loyal fans around the world.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The fandom for popular music may not normally cross-over with that of anime, manga and comic books, but the two spheres do share several similarities. The hard-core fans of both tend to be detail-oriented and obsessed with every development and minutiae of the production process. Both also have a fondness for collecting, whether the end result is a shelf full DVD boxed-sets or an iPod jam-packed with MP3s. The Complete Kylie, part of a series of comprehensive books focusing on several different popular artists, helps to feed the fannish-ness of those who can’t get enough information about the Australian-born singer. It may also help non-fans gain an appreciation for the star, whose path to fame is surprisingly compelling.
The book follows Kylie from the very beginnings of her career as a child television star in Australia. Consigned to bit parts before her breakout role as Charlene Mitchell in ultra-popular Australian soap Neighbours, her early success resulted from the perfect storm of being a high-profile actress in her home country (and later, the UK), and being offered a recording deal by the “hit factory” songwriting trio of Stock Aitken Waterman. The book goes on to detail her ups and downs within the music industry, as well as Kylie’s occasional (and variably-successful) forays into television and film. It concludes with several appendices filled with information on several of Kylie’s alternate music releases, compilation albums and her lines of home-wares and perfume.
I mentioned that this book is a comprehensive look at Kylie’s career, a fact which cannot be emphasized enough; the book contains information on her every television and film appearance, as well as every album, single, concert tour and photo book released by the artist. This material is combined with behind-the-scenes production information, as well as interviews from Kylie, her collaborators and others with whom she’s known and worked. The text is intercut with black-and-white photographs of the majority of Kylie’s album covers and promotional images from her work in television and film, and also contains several sections of color photographs that feature concert stills, magazine covers, and appearances at various industry events. The book paints a very complete picture of its subject, both visually and textually.
The one aspect of the book with which some readers may take issue is the fact that the voice in which it’s written is far from impartial. Author Simon Sheridan, a journalist specializing in British pop culture, takes a very casual tone with the book’s subject matter. Though he himself chides the tabloid media for the often inaccurate portrait they’ve painted of Kylie, there are times when the book itself reads a bit like a gossip rag; he refers to individuals as “bitchy” and unappreciative several times throughout, and makes heavy use of hyperbole at others. With a book like this which, as a result of its informational content, does well enough to help the reader form a more informed opinion on his/her own, the strong, often overbearing authorial opinion distracts from the efficacy of the final product.
The book is presented in hardcover format which would make it a handsome addition to a fan’s shelf. It contains both black-and-white and color pages with several photographs in both sections. The one issue I had with this presentation format is the fact that the color pages are a significant difference in quality and texture from the paper used to present the monochrome portions of the book. The glossier paper used with the color photographs feels more suited to this kind of content, and if offered the choice to trade the hardcover for a more unified look and feel to the paper, I probably would. This is really a minor complaint, though, of a book which prides itself on the completeness of its information.
Early in the book, the author comments that his intent is not to delve into the sordid details of Kylie’s private life, but to celebrate her accomplishments and detail the road she walked to achieve them. In this sense, The Complete Kylie is absolutely successful. Despite a few missteps in tone, overall this feels like a love-letter to a multi-media superstar who, though perhaps not as well-known in the United States as she is in Australia or the UK (within fandom, she is probably most well-known for her appearance on Doctor Who), has had a compelling career and continues to make music to this day. Open-minded fans who are curious about what it takes to become a pop icon may find their questions answered here, and this is a definite “buy” for anyone who counts themself among Kylie’s legion of world-wide fans.
Content Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: A-
Released By: Titan Books
Release Date: May 29, 2012
MSRP: $24.95 (US)