Happy 30th Anniversary to Kylie Minogue’s second studio album Enjoy Yourself, originally released October 9, 1989.
Kylie Minogue has worked incredibly hard for her “legendary” status that so many now happily use when speaking of the Australian singer. For many though, Minogue was destined to be legendary, either purely in her native Australia or on a more global scale. Minogue has gone on to achieve massive success on both levels across her 30-plus year career and she’s done so with humility and gratitude. She has been dissed and dismissed for being too “pop” and then again for being “not pop enough.” For much of the early stages of her burgeoning career, it seemed that she could do no right in the eyes of near-sighted critics.
With respect to debut albums, 1988 was a banner year. At the time, it was common practice for record companies to capitalize upon the success a debut album may have garnered by rushing out a sophomore LP so as not to undermine the artist’s momentum. Minogue’s debut album Kylie (1988) was a prime example of this phenomenon. So it therefore came as no surprise that Minogue would return to the publicity circuit in record time for the release of her 1989 follow-up album Enjoy Yourself.
At the time—and yes, I was there in ’89 and with open arms ready to receive my copy of Enjoy Yourself—you either loved or loathed Minogue and never would the two opposing sides meet. Well, in Australia anyway. I loved her. I still do. The album—written mostly by the powerhouse production trio Stock Aitken Waterman (excluding Minogue’s cover of Little Anthony & The Imperials’ 1958 ballad "Tears On My Pillow”)—embraced the same pop formula that had seen Minogue soar to the top of the charts in the years prior. It worked.
The album’s lead single “Hand On Your Heart” debuted at #2 in early 1989, moving the following week into the #1 position. The album’s following two singles “Wouldn’t Change A Thing” and “Never Too Late” both debuted in the top five, further adding to Minogue’s ability to prove the critics wrong, while reinforcing that there was a definite demand for “bubblegum pop” and she was living proof of this.
“Tears On My Pillow” was released as the fourth and final single to coincide with Minogue’s feature film debut in The Delinquents. The song, which was also featured on the film’s soundtrack, went on to secure yet another #1 hit for Minogue, proving again that she was much more than the “singing budgie” nickname her critics labelled her with.
Many of said critics panned the album at the time, citing “bubblegum pop” and “soulless pop” as their main concerns. When in fact, on closer and repeated listens, there most definitely is a maturity that was absent on her debut. “Tell Tale Signs” is a perfect example of Minogue’s growing maturity on Enjoy Yourself. Her balladry on this song, whilst not in the same vocal league of Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston, is most definitely executed very well. It is a known fact that Minogue had little to zero control over her work whilst with Stock Aitken Waterman, working in a very controlled, manufactured if you like, way. Given this and the beauty of hindsight, there most definitely is so much about this album this is quintessentially “Kylie.”
One could say that in her deliciously eloquent way, Minogue subtly raised a middle finger to the many critics that were not just brutal in their critiques of her work, but even went so far as to say she was “talentless” and “couldn’t sing to save her life.” Luckily for Minogue, she weathered this criticism, on the global stage no less, and her millions of fans ensured that the charts disagreed with the critics.
Enjoy Yourself is a great pop album and a daunting follow-up project that Minogue very clearly didn’t shy away from throwing herself into. Like her first album, Minogue was clearly given little opportunity to inject her own vision into this album. Yet she still managed to create an album that some thirty years later has flipped the switch and is now recognized as “classic Kylie.”
Minogue sums it up best on the album’s title and closing track “Enjoy Yourself”: When everything's too much / Don’t run and hide / For nothing comes to those who will not try / You may just as well have kissed / Your dreams goodbye.” Clichéd, yes. But luckily for us, Kylie has never stopped trying.