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News November 18, 2020

Kylie, Courtney and the stink of Tall Poppy Syndrome [Op-Ed]

Senior Journalist, B2B
Kylie, Courtney and the stink of Tall Poppy Syndrome [Op-Ed]

Kylie Minogue is tiny in stature, a giant in the pop scene. And for some reason, on her impressive rise to the top, she took a flogging from many countrymen.

This week, Kylie lifts her status a notch with another No. 1 album in the U.K., this time with Disco. It’s her third in as many years, in one of the five biggest music markets on the planet.

Disco doesn’t suck. With 55,000 “chart” sales (using a methodology for combining streams with actual sales), it’s the biggest-selling first week for an album this year.

And with that huge start, Kylie becomes the first female artist to lead the U.K.’s Official Albums Chart in five consecutive decades.

It’s nutty stuff, even more so when you consider the years of serial bagging she took in Australia. The “singing Budgie.” “Can’t act, can’t sing.”

Kylie calls London home. That’s where the work is, it’s a couple hours from New York, Paris, Berlin. She’s a national treasure in the U.K. In 2007, she received the Music Industry Trusts Award, the top honour for a music industry professional. Other recipients have included Lucian Grainge, Elton John and Peter Gabriel.

ARIA Charts

Kylie Minogue

Until Kylie came along, the MITS was unofficially known as the “Man of the Year Awards”. Kylie changed that. She was the first woman to receive it, the first foreigner. And, at 38, the youngest recipient.

Kylie is a tall poppy. Hugely successful overseas, an artist who has evolved, taken risks in her career, put in all the hard work. And someone who managed to offend old mate.

Courtney Barnett is another Australian artist with the world at her feet. In the U.K., she can sell out the Brixton Academy with ease. Her debut album Sometimes I Sit and Think… went Top 20 on both sides of the Atlantic, and earned her nominations at the Grammys and Brit Awards. Her label Milk! Records has won Best Independent Label at the AIR Awards, twice.

Then, the backlash. Courtney was hammered on social media in Australia. I reached out to a hater some years ago for insight. The response, “there are better musicians out there who deserve her success.”


Tall Poppy Syndrome is a stain, a stink that should have dissipated back when Ansett was grounded. The idea that someone should be torn down because they left home, worked hard, and got their rewards. The smell lingers.

Celebrate in the success of Kylie. If you don’t like Kylie’s music, that’s groovy. We’re all entitled to our tastes.

If you find yourself fuming because Kylie got her eighth No. 1 in the U.K. Or that Delta Goodrem got the hosting gig at the ARIAs, and you can’t explain the years of anger, you can’t articulate the resentment, you just have to hate that singer, that band. It might just be because you’re a dick.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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