'Give Me Just A Little More Time': Who Owns Kylie Minogue? [January 26, 1992]
Plus: 2 Unlimited, The Wonder Stuff, Kicks Like a Mule, and The Magnetic Fields
Hi, welcome to This Week in the 90s. Each week, we talk about music 30 years ago. Stick your email in here ↓ to get a new issue every Wednesday.
Welcome to the week of January 26, 1992, where the Top 5 looks like this:
= ‘Goodnight Girl’ — Wet Wet Wet
↑ ‘Give Me Just a Little More Time’ — Kylie Minogue
↑ ‘Twilight Zone’ — 2 Unlimited
↓ ‘Bohemian Rhapsody/Those Were The Days of Our Lives’ — Queen
↓ ‘Everybody in the Place’ — The Prodigy
We’ll be exploring some of the Top 40 and listening to our Album of the Week, but first, let’s listen to…
This week’s Number 2: ‘Give Me Just A Little More Time’ — Kylie Minogue
Celebrities aren’t real people.
It doesn’t matter how authentic they seem. Adele singing about her love life, Paul Rudd being an ageless everyman, Jennifer Lawrence being an adorkable ditz — none of that stuff is real.
They’re all fictional characters. They’re brands. They’re as real as a Big Mac or an iPhone.
Of course, there is a real human being behind the brand. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say they’re inside the brand. The brand is like a Halloween costume that the person can never remove.
(Except Dolly Parton. Apparently, when she removes her wig and makeup and the rest of the Dolly costume, she can walk around Nashville and nobody recognises her. Another reason Dolly is the greatest.)
The person behind the persona doesn’t always control it. For example, the Britney Spears brand has been a kind of prison cell for the actual Britney Spears, with first Disney and then the Spears family acting as her wardens.
So, if you want to understand any celebrity, you don’t ask “who are they, really?”
You ask, “who owns their persona?”
In the late 1980s, the whole world fell in love with a beautiful, feisty Australian teenager named Charlene Mitchell.
Two million Australians and twenty million British people tuned into Neighbours in July 1987 to watch as Charlene got married to her long-term boyfriend, Scott Robinson.
Of course, Charlene wasn’t real. She was just a character. And the person who played her, Kylie Minogue, was in the process of moving away from soap operas.
Minogue had enjoyed something of a surprise hit in Australia when her cover of ‘The Locomotion’ had hit Number One. That song caught the attention of British superproducers Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, and Pete Waterman, three guys who would do anything for a hit. SAW had already hit the charts with acts ranging from Samatha Fox to Roland Rat.
Clearly, all they saw Kylie was the opportunity for a quick cash-in. She flew out to London to meet them, and the three producers scribbled down some song lyrics in the space of ten minutes. Kylie laid down her vocal track in under an hour, and was then back on a plane to Australia.
‘I Should Be So Lucky’ exploded into the UK charts, remaining at Number One for five weeks and turning into pop sensation.
Mike Stock had a meeting with Minogue where he got on his knees and begged her to forgive them for treating her so badly. She signed a three-album deal and agreed to their strategy.
And so, a new character was born: Kylie.
Who is Kylie?
Kylie is small, bubbly, wholesome. Kylie is an unthreatening kind of pretty. Kylie is your friend’s big sister. Your parents would let Kylie babysit, and they would come home to find Kylie and the kids singing into hairbrushes.
“Kylie”, the persona, was wholly owned by Stock, Aitken and Waterman, and the crown jewel of their late 80s music empire.
But then the 90s happened, and the empire started to crumble.
Bubblegum dance-pop with its synths and hi-hats began to sound stale compared to the increasingly sophisticated loops and breakbeats of the rave scene. All of the Hit Factory acts struggled in the 90s. Rick Astley quit in bitter circumstances and recorded an angry solo album. Mike Aitken quit, citing burnout.
Even Kylie faced a challenge—from her own sister. Dannii was younger, cooler, sexier, and used the hip-hop and house music beats that had made the Hit Factory sound obsolete.
Everything was changing.
And this is when there was a huge change in the direction of the Kylie brand, as Kylie Minogue herself stepped in to take control. Stock and Waterman agreed to credit her as co-writer on the new album, which is something that they refused to do for most of their other artists.
The resulting album, Let’s Get to It, is Kylie’s worst-performing record, barely scraping into the Top 20. It’s not great. There are some real low points, such as the closing track, ‘I Guess I Like It Like That’ which samples ‘No Limits’ by 2 Unlimited.
It’s beneath Kylie.
The biggest hit from the Let’s Get to It is a cover of 1970 hit ‘Give Me Just a Little More Time’ by Chairmen of the Board.
‘Give Me Just a Little More Time’ was Kylie’s last Top 10 hit for The Hit Factory, and the final Top 10 hit for the classic roster of Stock, Aitken and Waterman acts. Stock and Waterman went back to novelty acts; their next Top 10 hit was ‘Slam Jam’ by the stars of WWF.)
The Stock Aitken and Waterman era of Kylie was over. It started with a cover version; it ended with a cover version.
But, in this video, we get a glimpse of Kylie’s future.
It’s a sexy video, but sexy in a different way from videos like ‘Shocked’. Confident, womanly, mature. And there’s a sense that Minogue is the one calling the shots here.
Minogue was also calling the shots elsewhere. Little known fact, but in 1992 she released white label dance 12”s under the name Angel K. This identity allowed her to create music that DJs could play without clubbers going, “ew, is that Kylie?”
The 90s are going to be a hell of a decade for Kylie. There’s SexKylie, IndieKylie, Kylie and Nick Cave, G.A.Y. Kylie, and gold hotpants Kylie; all before she evolves Pokemon-like into her final form: National Treasure Kylie.
But right now, in 1992, only one thing matters. The Kylie brand is back in the hands of Kylie Minogue.
Related reading: Dannii vs Kylie [April 8, 1991]
Elsewhere in the charts
Number 3 (↑ from 9): ‘Twilight Zone’ — 2 Unlimited
‘Twilight Zone’ is probably one of the most recognisable riffs of all time, right up there with ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘Seven Nation Army’. Like those songs, ‘Twilight Zone’ gets played often in sports stadiums when something exciting happens (especially in the NHL).
You may also feel tempted to shout “Mortal Kombaaaaaat” while listening to this riff. The similarities have been pointed out many times, but the Mortal Kombat people swear that they didn’t rip it off, and 2 Unlimited decided not to sue.
Number 7 (↑ from 26): ‘I Wonder Why’ — Curtis Stigers
Michael Bolton and Curtis Stigers were very much the Dannii and Kylie of long-haired 90s crooners. Stigers was sometimes referred to as a poor man’s Michael Bolton, but he was also perhaps slightly cooler and edgier than his rival. Plus, Bolton can’t play the sax like my man Curtis.
Number 8 (↑ from 11): ‘Welcome to the Cheap Seats’ — The Wonder Stuff
There was a mini-British Invasion in the early 90s, with indie bands like EMF making a serious dent on the Billboard Charts.
‘Welcome to the Cheap Seats’ didn’t do quite as well, but it got The Wonder Stuff on the David Letterman show. It’s a great song, although the critics turned their noses up at it because of all the fiddles and diddly-eye stuff.
Kirsty MacColl does backing vocals again, which surely makes her one of the most prolific chart performers of the early 90s.
Number 13 (New Entry): ‘The Bouncer’ — Kicks Like A Mule
I always thought it was “your name’s not Dan, you’re not getting in.”
Number 26 (↑ from 35): ‘Love Your Money’ — Daisy Chainsaw
KatieJane Garside from Daisy Chainsaw vanished from the public eye in 1993, which sparked a lot of chatter about her wellbeing and mental health. There were rumours throughout the 90s that she was dead.
But good news (for a change), Garside is actually fine and still making music. She reemerged in 2000 with a new band and now records folk music as part of a duo called Ruby Throat. She has the same number of Instagram followers as Curtis Stigers, but I think she’s probably happy enough with that.
Album of the Week
The Wayward Bus — The Magnetic Fields
What do we do with the great art of terrible men?
But his work is great. Not just great — his work is elemental. If rock’n’roll had a periodic table, then the opening drum solo of ‘Be My Baby’ would be right at the top next to hydrogen and helium. Spector forged the building blocks of our pop universe.
Lucky for us, these same building blocks have been used by nicer people to make great records, like The Magnetic Fields on The Wayward Bus.
Stephen Merrit’s The Magnetic Fields are your favourite band’s favourite band. Since 1989, they’ve been quietly doing their own thing, conducting experiments in indie-pop with moderate success.
1992’s The Wayward Bus saw them tackle the Wall of Sound with a selection of Spector-esque songs, beginning the wonderfully catchy ‘When You Were My Baby’ an absolutely spot-on pastiche of 60s girl bands.
It’s not just Spector either, as The Wayward Bus takes us on a journey through Merrit’s childhood record collection. The album plays out like a glimpse into the musical multiverse, like a lo-fi indie version of Marvel’s recent show What If?
What if Phil Spector had produced Nico and The Velvet Underground? Listen to ‘The Saddest Story Ever Told’.
What if The Jesus and Mary Chain had a string section? ‘Just Like Honey’ might have sounded more like ‘Candy’.
Or what about if Nick Drake had moved to California in 1968? Check out ‘Summer Lies’.
The spectre of Spector hangs over this album, of course. And yet, something about this music seems to banish him. Perhaps it’s Merrit’s lack of a killer instinct. Spector had a maniacal obsession with hits, but a Magnetic Fields record is just a bunch of musicians vibing together. There’s no pressure in these songs. Nobody cares if they get to Number One.
The Wayward Bus features the band’s original vocalist, Susan Anway, who departed the band shortly afterward. Her voice is versatile, shimmering, and sits nicely into each of the compositions.
Susan Anway passed away in 2019. She was widely mourned by fans and friends.
The best-selling song of 1992 and an autocorrect nightmare… Get ready for a bit of
Shakespeare’s Shakspears Sister.