Performances That Pop: Kylie Minogue at the 2002 BRIT Awards

What makes a great pop music entrance?

Theoretically, anyone could launch some pyrotechnics into the air or sit somberly at center stage with their guitar or piano. That’s not what it’s about. How a pop star arrives on stage sets the tenor for the rest of the performance. It can shape (or reshape) how an audience perceives an artist. A good entrance reflects an understanding of that intrinsic power. A great one takes it further. Michael Jackson jumping out from beneath the stage and standing still for 4 minutes during his 1992 Dangerous Tour conveyed an air of deification. Tina Turner strutting through the halls of the Beacon Theatre, the camera on her legendary legs, at VH1 Divas Live in 1999 was a proclamation of fierce, breezy confidence. The best entrances are extensions of a pop star’s central philosophy, what makes them matter.

Kylie Minogue in Can’t Get You Out of My Head (Courtesy: Parlophone)

The 2002 BRIT Awards were a pivotal moment for Kylie Minogue. The Australian pop star was riding high on a wave of success that started with 2000’s Light Years and exploded with its 2001 follow-up Fever. That album’s lead single, “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” became the year’s definitive hit, catapulting Minogue to superstardom. The obscenely catchy techno-pop song peaked at #1 in over 40 countries worldwide, including Australia and the UK. The music video, featuring Minogue in a white jumpsuit with a navel-deep neckline, was instantly iconic. By February 2002, she was close to cracking the US Top 10 for the first time since 1988.

The BRITs, where Minogue was up for three awards, offered her the opportunity to make a statement about her well-deserved reign on top. (And where better to do it than the country that had warmly embraced her since the “I Should Be So Lucky” days?) But what did she mean to say, and how would she say it?

To start, Minogue wasn’t going to follow the awards performance playbook. Even though she had released Fever’s second single, “In Your Eyes,” two days prior, she performed her mammoth signature hit-in-the-making instead. But this wouldn’t be the version of “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” that took the world by storm. The opening thumping beats of Minogue’s performance belonged to another song: “Blue Monday” by New Order. Had the performance order not been known prior, it would’ve been impossible that either the British rock band was making a surprise appearance or Minogue was covering the new wave club classic. 

An infinitely better alternative appeared mere seconds later. As familiar strands of “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” filtered through “Blue Monday’s” production, a silver panel pushed forward from the back of the set. Cameras from above caught what, or rather who, was inside: Kylie Minogue strapped to a giant CD with her name etched in hot pink. The CD lifted and revealed the diminutive diva to the audience, who preceded to lose their minds.

To be clear: Kylie Minogue, dressed in a white mini-dress and silver knee-high boots, emerged from a giant CD player. She literally became the music, a mash-up remix of the two most iconic club tracks of the past two decades. The entrance alone was a masterpiece of camp commentary. Alongside the glorious absurdity of seeing a pop star pop out of a CD player, Minogue offers herself as a vessel for the dancefloor. She is celebrating the pulsating sounds and British and queer listeners that sustained her 15-year career. Now that she sat atop the world, higher than ever, she wouldn’t forget who and what brought her there. In fact, they were coming along for the ride.

Minogue would follow that through for the entirety of the performance. The rework of “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” transformed the song into a clash of robotic seduction. The singer, with a sultry glint in her eye, clearly relished her role as chief temptress. Minogue and her army of skintight silver and helmet-wearing dancers moved through slithering and mechanical dance moves. The choreography and metallic aesthetics evoked an alien world where all that mattered was the music and the movements. With Minogue bending and twisting, staring intensely into the camera, that world was tantalizingly within reach.

Unfortunately, Minogue’s cosmic saucy playground couldn’t last forever. She stalked back to the elevating platform, crooning the famous “How Does it Feel” refrain from “Blue Monday,” departing for the disc drive that brought her to us for four blissful minutes. As brief as those minutes seemed, Minogue’s dominance of the moment was indisputable. She still had more heights: Fever would debut at #3 in America the following week. Fever would eventually go platinum in the States and sell 6 million copies worldwide. However, her BRITs performance solidified her status as an icon of pop, queerness, camp, sex, and survival. It was a decisive argument for everything Kylie Minogue brought to pop culture, which we frequently underappreciate.

And it all started with that entrance.

You can view more articles in the Performances That Pop series here.

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