Random thought I had just now. As those of you who know me know, I’m one of those guys who is *always* thinking. Like, non-stop thinking. Olympic marathon thinking. And it’s fine for me because it’s something that is second nature to me – my brain works fast, it takes no effort and I’m normally at the end of a puzzle before everyone else has finished reading the instructions. And I don’t mean this in a boastful way, but just it what it is – everyone is good at something, and that’s a thing that I got born with. The frustrating part for me is that it’s often quite alienating – both for me because I’m constantly waiting for people around me to catch up and, even more so, because it genuinely upsets me to see how exhausting I can be for people I care about. I may be borderline Hawking-like in the brains department, but I’m lucky enough to be either hyper-empathetic or just unnaturally adept at intellectually deconstructing human psychology. Either way, the net result is about the same.
Anyway, the point is that it just occurred to me that – I wonder whether the reason that I think so much is something I was born with, or whether it’s a direct byproduct of how I grew up? I mean, without rehashing all the gory details, I learnt very clearly at a *very* young age EXACTLY how unpredictable adults could be, both from things I saw them do around me and things I saw them do to me. And not even the general tedious TV Movie Of The Week shit you see on basic cable, but really unfathomable, weird stuff that most people even as adults don’t truly understand exists outside of independent cinema or Aronofsky films. But, for me, it was just how I grew up.
And, to be perfectly honest, I’ve never even really cared. Sure – there are things that happened to me that I don’t think any child should ever be exposed to, ever. But I’ve never really understood the impulse to sit around and mope about things that are done. Like – you can’t change the past, so what’s the point of making the time you have left even shittier than the time that preceded it, ya know? Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big believer in always remembering things, and analysing situations that happen. But only because that’s the only real way you can ever learn from something. Or, even better, learn how to make sure it never happens again. And, looking back, I had such a long, random, weird ass laundry list of childhood traumas and teenage tragedies that fell across my path that it’s almost comical at times. But that’s why I have such a grounded perspective in life. I learned so early on that real serious shit really fucking happens, so I learned not to take so many mundane things seriously. And that sense of perspective is what opened me up to being able to experience such pure joy in so many ordinary, little things that most people around me never even notice.
But I guess the thing that I’d never thought about before was the whole nature vs nurture aspect of my MENSA-ness. I appreciate and am truly grateful for how nimble and practical and emotionally astute my mind is every single day, but I wonder if I would even have that had things been different growing up. My ability to so astutely psychologically profile someone within a minute of meeting them is one of my favourite things I can do, and yet I wonder if that is purely a by-product of learning the full spectrum of human behaviour by the time I was in grade school. If I didn’t so innately understand exactly what people are truly capable of – both bad AND good – would I have ever developed the ability to be a mere birthplace away from being an FBI Profiler or something?
The problem is, once you’ve learned fully that people are literally capable of any random unpredictable action or thought as a reaction to any situation ever, it because near impossible to ever stop running numbers, crunching variables and imagining twenty seven potential outcomes to any given mundane interaction. Which is a great life skill if you were in an emergency, or playing Survivor, but it’s just exhausting sometimes in day to day life, because I basically understand the people around me incredibly well but also find them just completely baffling and illogical. I might always end up being right, but I also end almost always being by myself, even in a room full of everyone.
I guess I’ve always been someone who truly believes in finding the good in anything, not because I’ve read too many self-help books, but because I’m an inherently practical person. And I’m just curious I guess how much of this particular skill I owe to certain people. And wonder if there is a way to better socially streamline it so I don’t keep hurting the handful of people I truly care about. Because it’s wonderful to be able to know someone better than they know themselves, but it’s lonely as hell too.
i’ve got sinead o’connor on
i’m listening to the saddest songs
i’m crying in the shower on my own
my friends are blowing up my phone
they’re making moves since you moved on
but it’s the time you mourn that lets you know it’s love
and i know it sounds stupid to believe in a cupid who fires an arrow straight away
but i’d rather be stupid than be afraid of losing something that i’ve got to give away..
and i’m gonna live – with a wide open heart
cuz i’d rather be the guy who falls apart
than the one whose too afraid to start
get hurt – fall down again and again, again
cuz someday someone will make it all seem worth it
staring blankly at my phone
nothing’s changed since you last called
i’m just being anxious because this could be love
they say don’t speak these thoughts out loud
but i’m gonna sing them anyhow
cuz it’s better losing than risk missing out
and i know it sounds foolish to believe i could do this, to go and make you feel the same
but i’d rather die trying than live life while i’m lying with every single breath i take..
so i’m gonna live – with a wide open heart
cuz i’d rather be the guy who falls apart
than the one who’s too afraid to start
get hurt – fall down again and again, again
cuz someday someone will make it all seem worth it
someday someone could make it all be worth it..
and i’m not afraid
of what people say
about the tears falling from my face
because it’s brave
it’s just mistakes
and nothing great came from someone afraid to break
and i was never afraid to break..
and i know it sounds stupid to believe in a cupid who would fire an arrow straight away
but you know what is stupid, being afraid to do this because a fire is worth the pain..
so i’m gonna live – with a wide open heart
cuz i’d rather be the guy who falls apart
than the one who’s too afraid to start
get hurt – fall down again and again, again
cuz someday someone will make it all seem worth it..
someday someone could make it all seem worth it..
maybe one day you’ll make it all be worth it .. to me
Sometimes I wish there was, like, a Support Group for people whose friends have had shitty things happen to them. Like, a safe space where people who are accident adjacent could go to and vent and deal and process all the second hand residual feelings that are left from when something shitty happens to someone you love. Because you can’t talk about it like you normally would. It’s not cool to discuss second hand pain. But it’s a real thing. And not like in some narcissistic Hannah Horvath way where you’re just kind of making someone else’s tragedy all about you either – but a real legit thing. Because, honestly? It’s draining as all fuck. Watching crappy things happen to people you care about is horrible, but you can’t talk about it because you have to be supportive and strong because you want to help them and support them and distract them. But it’s draining. And it’s depressing.
Like yesterday – my flatmate, who is one of my top tier best friends for life, got hit by a car. And not just a love tap/glove slap kind of thing, but a legit, neck fractured, bike totalled, lucky to be alive kind of deal. And it only just hit me now – after spending two days in hospitals and doctors appointments and dealing with insurance companies and lawyers and the like – that, once I dealt with all the logistical and practical stuff, I legitimately almost lost one of the people I love most in my entire life. The reality that he was a split second either side of being someone’s permanent hood ornament (through no fault of his own – the error was 100% the drivers fault) is just draining in a totally different way to all those other things I outlined. It’s horrifying beyond words to think about. But you can’t talk about it in a traditional way, because it sounds selfish, or narcissistic, or just inappropriate. But these aren’t feelings I’m consumed with at the expense of caring about my friend – they’re feelings that exist on a secondary or tertiary level, in their own little self-contained bubble. And yet there is no forum to really talk about them because, as I know as well as anyone else, they’re not important. Or at least not in the grand scheme of the situation. But it’s so WEIRD.
And it leads to me to think of how many times I’ve been in this situation – trauma adjacent. And suddenly being aware of the emotional toll it takes, constantly propping up other people in their time of need. It’s not something you do (or should ever do) for thanks, but it *is* something that is incredibly exhausting. But you can’t talk about it out loud – ESPECIALLY not to the friend that it involves – because that is a completely garbage thing to do.
I guess it’s just part of the deal these days, part and parcel of what goes along with choosing to truly care about someone. And that’s fine. If anything, it’s really nice to do – probably the only genuinely satisfying experience I can think of in life sometimes, to know that something that’s inherently easy for you to do can make someone else’s world a better place for a couple of seconds. I’ve always thought it just makes mathematical sense, you know? But it also creates this strange disconnect sometimes. Because you hand over these giants chunks of your life force and your soul to someone, but you can’t even objectively mention the toll it takes on you because even just verbalising it kind of makes you sound like a c**t. And it’s weird because, for me at least, it’s not complaining. At all. I just find it such an interesting concept. I guess maybe that’s part and parcel of being a writer – these moments of dissociative observation. But for as long as I can remember, I’ve always just kind of known that you can never be truly connected and effective with someone at the same time, and I don’t know how to always be able to deal with that, because it’s kind of lonely.
Going over the past year alone, I think back on all these second hand life traumas I’ve been present for. And it makes me truly happy that I was able to be be around and be able to genuinely help these people, because I think anything that can makes someone else’s life better is always worth the effort. But this last year or two, there’s really been a lot. The car accident yesterday, my best friends relationship breakdown, my grandmothers slow descent into dementia, my Mum losing her job, my 2014 list just goes on and on.. Sometimes I feel like I can’t turn around without seeing someone I care about in the most acute kind of pain, and I don’t know how to not feel every single drop of it. And I just get exhausted. But I don’t really know how to ‘half-care’. I have no problem at all with openly not caring and being able to stand up and admit it, but this weird kind of ‘selective caring’ that I see so many people do in the real world just skeezes me out – because I think that, if you’re being true, you either care about something or you don’t, and anything less than 100% is just kind of disingenuous, or hollow.
But it’s also strange for me because I’ve never really been one to just throw my own pain in other peoples faces. I’ve always found it kind of gauche. And I don’t mean that as a slight to everyone else – because I truly don’t – but it’s just not the way I’ve ever really been. Since I was a little kid, I’ve always just found it strange to dump your problems into someone else’s lap unless there is something specific that they can do to help with them. In those cases, I think it’s totally fine and, if anything, a very smart and practical thing to do. But the concept of dumping an unsolvable problem on someone else just seems kind of mean – why would you want to torment someone else if it’s something there’s no solution to? Like – why drag two people down? And so, with my own problems, if I know what the solution is, I just go and do it. And if I can’t work it out, then I kind of compartmentalise it away until the universe nudges me towards the answer sheet. And, honestly – it’s really kind of worked thus far.
Anyway, there was no real point to this I guess. It’s just weird. I’d never thought of it like that before. It’s strange to think of how many people in the world are walking around with these kind of secondary injuries, like invisible pieces of debris, just floating around the crowds. It’s such a strange thing to be aware of suddenly. There are so many strange Social Laws that govern what feelings we can discuss and what we can and when, and sometimes I worry that all they do is help redistribute the problem by breaking it down to more easily shareable pieces that are harder to notice. But it’s interesting to watch I guess, to watch what makes the world turn.
So, once again – Halloween is basically upon us. And, like last year, I’m eschewing getting my ghoulishly goofy self AWN in favor of staying in and finishing any one of the six screenplays and two tv shows that I’m currently actively working on. I’ve always said – “Halloween is for people who achieve their life goals. And for people who like to dress like whores”. That being said, this year is particularly tough to stay in, mostly because of the fact I’ve managed to attain a pretty wicked bod and thus have the kind of physique that lends itself to ALL SORTS of sexy costumes. Although, if we’re perfectly honest, all I really want to do is dress up in my Tigger onesie because, well, OBVI.
So, while I stay in like a good boy and write, drink and occasionally post naked photos of myself on Twitter, I thought I would pay tribute to some of the best lesser-known modern horror movies (aka ones you probably HAVEN’T already seen) that have helped shaped me – both as a writer and as a cinema fan. These are the kind of movies that make me not just defend the whole genre on a regular basis, but aspire to contribute to it and, one day, become it’s impossibly abdominated King. They’re not just movies I want to equal, but ones that motivate me to want to do even better, both as a writer and a full-time scare-ntertainer.
ANYWAYS, without further ado, here are ten slices of post-1990 horror that you really MUST SEE. Not just if you consider yourself not a fan of the genre, but of cinema itself :-
10 – THE STRANGERS (2008)
PLOT - Young couple vacationing in isolated country cabin find themselves stalked by a trio of masked intruders, for no discernible reason (TRAILER).
WHY - When people ask me to name one movie that makes me want to be a genre writer, this is IT. In eighty-eight short minutes, this tale of two semi-estranged suburbanites holidaying in the countryside manages to encapsulate everything that is both great and poorly done in modern horror cinema. Now, don’t get me wrong, the good FAR outweighs the weak, but we mean it when we say this movie is only a few narrative tweaks from being MUCH higher on this list. Honestly, it’s almost frustrating to say so because The Strangers really, truly does so many things just RIGHT. Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler (particularly the latter) give incredibly engaging and relatable performances, delivering just the right amount of nuance and gravitas (abetted by an impressively well paced and structured screenplay) that makes you honestly care about them and their plight, as you’re so fully invested both in their relationship and the situation they find themselves in. And that’s what makes it all the more heartbreaking that the final thirty minutes is kind of undone by the two characters making increasingly stupid decisions that seem more concerned with furthering the plot than with anything someone with a triple digit IQ could conceivably do. There is only so many “splitting up/going back into the house/not running for help” moments that a viewer can take before they inevitably just stop caring about whether a character lives or dies. That being said, the way The Strangers not just amps up but maintains the tension throughout the picture is nothing short of phenomenal – even on a second viewing, this is a movie too scary to watch by yourself. Believe us – we’ve tried!
BEST BIT - The Masked Intruders. Besides the next entry on the list, we can’t think of a single movie in modern horror that has utilized an anonymous mask so effectively and terrifyingly. Also, the Barn scene is just perfect. For a movie built on silently escalating tension in long, deliberate takes, this scene takes the cake. And the soundtrack is just PERFECT – scariest use of Country Music since Gwyneth ‘Country Strong’ herself!
IF YOU LIKED THIS, THEN TRY – VACANCY (2007). Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson take a similar ‘couple against the odds’ scenario and play it out to seat-squirmingly terrifying effect. A brutally simple but ingenious concept played for maximum thrills, without ever feeling cheap. The movie may have some minor flaws, but the suspense sequences pack nail bitingly visceral thrill that is on par with the greats.
09 – SCREAM 4 (2011)
PLOT - Modern scream queen survivor Sidney Prescott releases a self help book, and finds that the demons of her past aren’t quite as dead and buried as they seem (TRAILER).
WHY - Social Commentary and Cinema Critique disguised as a Self Referential Slasher Reboot., this 11 years in the making four-quel/reboot to the almighty franchise (see our countdown of the Top Ten Reasons the Scream Franchise is pretty much GOAT *HERE*) is as maligned as it is loved by serious horror fans. Now – we’re not going to argue that Scream 4 is perfect – it’s NOT. But take away the 10% of the movie that needs major retooling (the second ending in the Hospital should be completely cut, and the hastily reshot third part of the opening scene is SO completely trite and unengaging that you really wish they had’ve kept the more cerebral, affecting and disturbing original concept instead), and you’re left with an incredibly smart, well acted horror movie that not just works as a How To Guide for modern horror sequels, but is brimming with some of the most exciting and challenging ideas seen this decade. Neve Campbell in particular gives a genuinely bravura performance and puts in some beautiful finishing touches on what just might be the single most three dimensional heroine in horror movie history. All in all, Scream 4 is the rarest of horror sequels, in that it manages to not just honour all that is great about the original, but truly build on the concept, instead of just regurgitating it.
BEST BIT - Honorable mentions go to the scene where Neve’s years of survivors guilt lead her to not just run directly INTO the house, but to go full blown Sigourney Weaver (because, when you think about it, the best defense is often a good surprise offence), as well as pretty much any scene Hayden Panettiere or Courteney Cox are in. But, it’s impossible to go past THAT ending, which (Hospital malarkey notwithstanding) which is both intellectually exciting and as bursting with ideas bananas as we’ve seen in memory. It’s just THAT GOOD.
(Bonus Points to the scrapped opening scene, which was a slight rewrite away from being the most gut-wrenching opening since Drew Barrymore’d herself – WATCH HERE).
IF YOU LIKED THIS, THEN TRY – WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE (1994). If the original Scream was the moment the mainstream Horror Movie became self-aware, then this little seen meta-gem is where that seed got planted. Not just reuniting the original cast of his 1984 Elm Street opus, but ingeniously recasting them as themselves in the modern day, Craven single-handedly invents not just the self-referential horror movie, but establishes it as a go-to genre for the thinking cinema fan. Worth seeing just for original Nightmare On Elm Street star Langenkamp’s vunerable tour de force performance alone.
So, in case you’ve been living under The Rock for the past 16 hours, you’re probably aware that semi-famous, fully-infamous octogenarian Joan Rivers passed away today. The irony that this was the result of a surgical procedure that was NON-cosmetic is not lost on anyone. Not even on Alanis Morissette. And most definitely not on Joan of Arc(h Comedy) herself, who is almost surely taking time out from zinging Saint Peter about the cut of his gowns to fully appreciate the gallows humor to be found in all of this.
Now, the internet is already overflowing with outpourings of think-pieces about the cultural relevance of Miss Rivers who, lets be honest, is probably torn between enjoying the attention and getting vaguely pissy about the fact 78% of those people weren’t writing about her when she still had enough of a pulse to revel it. I mean – that’s the odd thing about celebrity deaths in the internet age – there seems to be more appreciation in passing than there is in those dark last years of living, which is both sad and as perfect a summation of the ridiculousness of the human condition as you’ll ever find. SO, why am I spending the final hours of my Friday Night (AUSTRALIA TIME) sitting naked on a Swiss Ball, drinking Red Wine and writing about Joan Rivers instead of doing the dozens of other things available to a semi-handsome chap in a semi-big big city? Because, my dear friends, to me – Joan Rivers matters.
There are a lot of great articles today celebrating the life and times and zings and rhymes of ol’ Joan – honouring her place as not just a trailblazer in television (as both the proud host to a vagina and as a comedienne in general) but as a feminist icon and all-round pop culture great, so I’m not going to cover any ground that others have already covered more thoughtfully, comprehensively or eloquently than I ever could (Peter Taggart’s wonderful piece on how she taught a young gay man how to use humor to not just survive but thrive is a particularly beautiful and thought-provoking tribute – read it HERE). The one thing I do feel compelled to commemorate though, that hasn’t really been mentioned enough in life OR in death, is how important her complete and utter sense of no-bullshit total honesty was and still is.
I’ve always very much enjoyed Joan Rivers. Growing up in buttfuck nowhere Australia in the 80’s, she was mostly that woman who had all the plastic surgery who made fun of the women who wore bad dresses, and she was pretty great. But what always stood out to me was how, no matter what, she made fun of herself just as much as she did everyone else. Now, anyone filled with even a moderate amount of self-loathing (let alone one who works full time in comedy, which is a field ripe with it if there ever was one), knows that all the greatest self-deprecating zings come from a darker place than most publicly care to admit. But the thing that always stood out to me was just how HONEST hers were. Here was a woman who spent her time making fun of herself and those poor saps who stumbled into her orbit with with equal aplomb. It never felt mean or hypocritical, because she treated everyone the same way she treated herself, and it was always rooted in making the people laugh, not in the ugliness or ego that drags down a lot of mean-spirited comedy these days. For as long as I’ve been aware of Joan Rivers, she’s been the easy go-to target for any joke a rag could ever make and yet, even at her commercial nadir, no one was shooting arrows at Joan that she hadn’t already slung at herself ten times earlier. And that was always really admirable to me. Because it wasn’t self-deprecation born out of self-defense, but one that comes from a genuine sense of revelling in the completely ridiculous nature of her own existence. You could never make a joke about Joan Rivers that she wasn’t already well and truly in on, and that kind of genuine self-awareness and the joie de vivre that came with was something I always found so admirable and aspirational.
There’s a great quote I stumbled on today, where she said :-
“Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.” Joan Rivers.
There, in one sentence, she sums up the beauty of life so much better than many great philosophers ever could. Because, you see, the beauty of Joan Rivers’s jokes wasn’t her particular sharpness as a comedian (while a trailblazer for sure, her jokes often had more in common with the workmanlike beauty of a Bob Hope-style pro than they did of any modern day Silverman-style social commentator, and I truly mean that as a compliment), but her complete and utter fearlessness to both denigrate and celebrate herself in the same sentence. So much of the celebrity world in rooted in ego and there were a lot of days where Joan Rivers was the only man alive willing to revel in the complete and utter ridiculousness of it all. And that, my friends, is one of the most beautiful things in life. She mocked it not because she was above it, but because she was just as much entrenched in it as anyone else, and she took great joy in how hilarious that fact could be. There’s nothing worse than the posthumous deifying of celebrities, and she’d be the last person to expect us to ignore she very much had as many demons and personal problems as any of her more ubiquitous targets, but there was never a day that Joan Rivers was not just aware but in awe of her own personal absurdity as anyone in her orbit. And she was fucking A-OK with that.
And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the most important personal legacy she left for kids today. That it’s not just okay to make fun of yourself, but it’s pretty fucking awesome fun to do. And it’s okay to not be so goddamned serious all the time. Have a crack, make a joke – and if you happen to offend The Jews or The Gays or The United League Of Former Hispanic-Lesbian Church Ministers, just be an adult, own it and move on. Because making people laugh isn’t an exact science, and it’s better to occasionally offend than live a life hamstrung by fear, even if it isn’t always as appreciated in life as it is in death.
“Screw kindness. You have to tell the truth, that’s what comedy is all about..” Joan Rivers
Which brings me to my other point. It’s easy to get sad because the world lost one of its most irreverently acerbic voices – but why not take joy in the fact that this workhorse of a woman went out at the top of her game. I mean – I’m not glad she’s dead (we’ll save that for Annie Duke) – but I personally derive great joy from the fact that she went out at 81 one years old and at the very top of her game. For someone so open and candid about how her work was her life, there is a real beauty in the fact that she passed away suddenly and very much appreciated by many right up until those final moments. No one can know what was going through her head in her final minutes, but you can rest assured they weren’t clouded by all the fears and doubts of obscurity that she so beautifully and admirably laid bare in her utterly perfect and wildly successful award-winning documentary A Piece Of Work (which is basically the gold-standard of artistry as far as artist documentaries ever – read more HERE. Or, better yet, legally rent it on iTunes because she’s fucking worth it and it’s really that damned good). And you see, that’s the thing – death is never easy, not at any age. But there is a real joy to be found in someone having the good fortune to go out having every single thing in life that they ever wanted, in that very moment. And while I’m sure Joan would rather be there on the Red Carpet getting to make fun of Anne Hathaway in person next Oscar Season, she probably still has a pretty good seat from where she is. And she’d just be happy that she’s not forgotten. Because all Joan Rivers every really wanted was to stay relevant and to make people laugh, in whatever order that happened to be. So, as I sit here alone and naked aloft a giant inflatable blue ball, I raise my glass and remember her – because it’s the most ridiculous and true thing I can possibly do..
PS - If you’re looking for something to watch to remember Joan, obviously the aforementioned A Piece Of Work is the GOAT of all Joan-related media (her daughter non-withstanding, obvi). However, a lesser known highlight is her outstandingly poignant and self-refential turn playing herself on the season two season finale of Nip/Tuck (aka the last great episode of a once great show). In a non holds barred performance, she anchors the episode by enlisting the Doctors to reverse all the plastic surgery she’s had over the years in a last-ditch bid to stay relevant. It’s an extraordinarily meta and thrillingly clever affecting hour of television, and she’s just great in it (read more HERE).
After you’ve watched that, feel free to join us while we finish this bottle of red and spend the rest of the evening watching her and Melissa call Annie Duke and Brande Roderick “Whore Pit Vipers” and “PO-KAH PLAYAS’, over and over again. BECAUSE. <3 <3 <3
“I’ve had so much plastic surgery, when I die they will donate my body to Tupperware.” Joan Rivers, Queen of Fucking EVERYTHING. Rest In Peace, you amazing amazing Piece Of Work.
Unless you’ve been living under a virtual rock the past few weeks, you may have noticed that Australia’s Premier Pop Export and long time Home Perm Pioneer Kylie Minogue is EVERYWHERE at the moment. Not only is she the new female face of The Voice (in, ahem, more ways than one), but she’s managed to release her 12th studio album of her 27 (TWENTY SEVEN) year recording career. Lets take a moment to let that sink in. Twenty Seven Years. Think about it – that’s as long as other music legends like Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin managed to live in their entire LIVES. Heck, it’s older that most of her current FANS (and boyfriends). So, how exactly does someone in this day and age, let alone one (somewhat) affectionately dubbed the “Singing Budgie” last that long, especially as commercial viable mainstream artist?
Take a moment and ask yourself what is your favorite Kylie Minogue song. It probably takes most of you longer than you’d expect for a star of her stature (figuratively speaking, OBVI). Like, at what point did the woman who spent all of the late 80’s and most of the 90’s as a walking (inter)national punchline become one of our most beloved cultural musical treasures? Pretty much everyone has a point where their love of Kylie went from being some sort of guilty pleasure to a complete and utter unironic delight. Was it when she got into INXS? Or those infamous Gold Hotpants? Maybe it was that time Can’t Get You Out Of My Head conquered America and the rest of the free world? Or are you a late in life fan, suckered in by her latest venture as the official Spokesvagina of the UK and Australian editions of The Voice? Whatever it was, there is no denying that, somewhere inside, pretty much everyone these days is Team Kylie. But what exactly has she released to earn her this place of eternal pop ubiquity? I mean – most of us remember the 80’s and those songs were all pretty awful, right? So, lets take a walk down Musical Memory Lane (note – not a real place) and look at Miss Minogue’s Top 27 Contributions to the Music World at Large…
27. I SHOULD BE SO LUCKY
Year of Release - 1987
Album - Kylie
Australian Chart Peak - 1
UK Chart Peak - 1
US Chart Peak - 28
Type of Kylie - Poodle-Permed Pop Princess Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – You really can’t go past the impossibly earwormy “I should be so lucky – LUCKY LUCKY LUCKY” hook of the chorus. It just gets you, every damned time.
So here it is, the little song that started it all. Well, yes – technically THAT was The Locomotion, but it was more of an anomaly, a freak accident, the very definition of a One Hit Wonder (where in the US, for the better of two decades, it was). Rather it was this, a Stock Aiken Waterman tune hastily penned in 40 minutes after Minogue showed up for a meeting they’d completely forgotten about, that went and cemented Kylie as a legitimate chart force and smashed sales records (for both Vinyl Singles and Hair Scrunchie Sets) worldwide. So, what is it about this three minute long string of leftover bubblegum that created such an enduring pop behemoth? Sure, the vocals are kind of abysmal and the “I should be so lucky – lucky lucky lucky” hook has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, but all the other hooks throughout the song (the spectacularly crafted “in my imagination, there is no..” key change springs to mind) help keep it in your head, even 27 years later.. And the video is just so damned ADORKABLE that it basically paved the way for Zooey Deschanel’s entire career.
26. LOVE AFFAIR
Year of Release - 2001
Album - Fever
Australian Chart Peak - N/A
UK Chart Peak - N/A
Type of Kylie - Sultry Poppers O’Clock Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – The “close your eyes – so you can see..” bridge is still one of the sexiest and most commanding come ons in the history of music, ever.
Then, on the other hand, we have the smash hit single that never was. While Come Into My World will always be remembered as both one of the greatest videos of Kylie’s career (watch it HERE) as well as being her very first Grammy win, it was this dark dancefloor stormer thats lack of release is a blackest mark on her career. One of the standout tracks on career peak Fever, it was absolutely SCREAMING for a commercial single release, before everyone apparently chickened out and went with watered down Can’t Get You Out Of My Head retread Come Into My World instead. To think there was a time in Kylie’s career when THIS wasn’t good enough to be a single is just astounding, especially when you consider that she’d pretty much sell Dannii’s firstborn for anything even remotely this commercially appealing these days..
25. SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY
Year of Release - 2014
Album - Kiss Me Once (Special Edition)
Australian Chart Peak - N/A
UK Chart Peak - N/A
Type of Kylie - Electroballad Kylie
Defining Minogue Moment – The whole entire chorus is spine-tinglingly heartbreaking, but the “what is it she does that I don’t do / was it not enough that I loved you?” second verse is just DEVASTATING.
Speaking of Team Kylie’s endlessly fascinating and increasingly baffling attitude towards her own material, we come to THIS little number from her latest release. A sparkling, mid-tempo slow-burner that manages to be both haunting, emotionally affecting and blessed with a hook so catchy that even the world’s most inept angler could land with it, it somehow managed to be deemed worthy of no more than a lowly Bonus Track berth. Much of the criticism hurled in the direction of Kylie’s career this past decade or so isn’t to do with the quality of her material per se, but with the fact much of it is so clearly unsuited for what the public at large wants to hear from a fading 46 year old former popstrel. This doesn’t mean her time in the mainstream sun is over by any means, just that there needs to be more care taken with what material is selected. So the fact that something this mature, catchy and creatively satisfying can’t even make it onto the official tracklisting, but tuneless and age inappropriate tripe like Sexercise can, is just mind boggling. THIS IS WHY YOU CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS KYLIE!
Having just crowned our 28th (28th!) Champ mere hours ago, what better time to stroll down Survivor Memory Lane (N.B. Not a real place, although probably the working title for a majority of the seasons we’ve had this decade) and update our Epic countdown from last few years (see previously editions HERE and HERE).
Now, we’re the first to tell you that there is genuinely no one set way to win the game – besides getting to the end and receiving a majority of the votes (are you listening Russell?) – and that’s what makes coming up with an objective and definitive ranking a hard task indeed. Every player comes from a different deck of cards, so we’re assessing them on how well they played with the hand they were dealt. We’re grading them on their individual winning game so, while Parvati may overall be considered the greatest female player of all time, only her winning game in Micronesia is deemed relevant to this discussion.
Points will be awarded for various things, for example :-
- CONTROL - How much control contestants had in getting themselves to the end and how much of that winning journey was actively planned.
- GAME AWARENESS - How well the contestant read the game and tribal dynamics over 39 days and made deliberate and informed choices, versus stumbling ass backwards into a win.
- DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY - How many obstacles were on their road to victory (whether it be game structure, fellow competitors or even their own personal limitations).
- CHALLENGE WINS/IDOL PLAY - While Terry Deitz-ing your way to the Final 3 may look impressive on the surface, the elite players never need to rely on an Immunity Idol or Necklace in order to survive a vote unscathed. Now, being able to work one or both into your overall strategy is a different story, but a truly great game isn’t defined by something as arbitrary as how good one is at glorified carnival games..
- JURY MANAGEMENT - As stated above, the only single way to win Survivor is to convince a Jury of your previously eliminated peers to give you a majority of votes at the end. How much of this factored into their gameplay and how many of these eventual votes were *for* them, versus just being the lucky recipient of BJS (Bitter Jury Syndrome).
- SHEER LUCK - Whether good or bad, luck will always play a factor in the game of Survivor. How a player maximises or minimises their own is the real testament to their overall skill.
So, without further ado, lets start from the bottom (and no, for once we DON’T mean Sash)..
28. NATALIE WHITE – SAMOA
Hands down the most maligned Survivor winner OF ALL TIME, due to her shocking (SHOCKING) defeat of Russell Hantz a few years back. Whilst her social game was approximately one million times more impressive than said bandy-legged troll (on account of her actually, ya know, HAVING ONE), she loses major points because going into the Final Tribal Council, not one single person from that jury was even planning on voting for White (they were split between Hantz and apparently feckless Dr Mick) – but she won them over with her thoughtful and honest answers.
Plus, she beat a rat to death with a stick. I mean – what’s not to love? :-
BEST MOVE : Orchestrating the pivotal merge boot of (the incredibly sexy) Erik, that set the whole Galu post-merge crumble in motion.
SHOULD HAVE WON : *sigh* Russell. Whilst his social game was just AWFUL, he did play an incredible strategic game and changed the way Survivor was played forever.
27. BOB CROWLEY – GABON
Who? GaBob sauntered along most of season 17 half-asleep, crafting a few (admittedly impressive) fake immunity idols along the way. Loses points for the fact that he was planning to take Matty to the end who would have kicked his ass ten ways to Sunday. Also for the fact that Randy (who cast the pivotal vote for his eventual 4:3 victory) was planning to vote for Susie to win that night until she totally (and inexplicably) burned him on his jury question. That’s right people – there’s an alternate timeline out there where SUSIE SMITH IS THE WINNER OF SURVIVOR : GABON. It’s a very dark place indeed.
BEST MOVE : Playing the Granddaddy role to human waterworks Sugar, who forced the Final 4 tie that allowed him a spot in front of the Jury in the first place.
SHOULD HAVE WON : The aforementioned Tear Fountain herself. Sugar basically controlled the entire game post-merge without once becoming a target. If she had’ve actually decided to play for the title of Sole Survivor instead of just Fan Favourite, it all could have turned out so very, very different.
26. SANDRA DIAZ-TWINE – PEARL ISLANDS
Also known as the only two-time winner in Survivor’s 28 season history. Less well known for winning through sheer virtue of not being Lil or Jonny Fairplay. Gains points for pioneering and perfecting the “As Long As It Ain’t Me” voting strategy (Rob C in Survivor : Amazon played similarly, but not to the same blatantly mercenary effect Sandra did). Loses points for having no real control over her own fate in the game. While she deserves props for constantly keeping herself positioned one up from the bottom, her actual win came solely down to the fact that Final Immunity winner Lil knew she couldn’t beat either of her opponents and figured that at least if she took Sandra to the end and gave her the win, the million dollars wouldn’t be as likely to be blown on blowjobs and blow (or strippers and coke, as it was put).
DON’T TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT THOUGH – Here’s an amazing clip of Sandra’s Grade A Social Skills that won her her first cool mill. “I CAN GET LOUD TOOOOO!” :-
BEST MOVE : Openly having her vote for sale at every Tribal Council. Warring factions kept using her to vote each other out, ensuring she was a necessary vote and never the target.
SHOULD HAVE WON : Umm, no one? Is ‘no one’ an option? Pearl Islands was a rollickingly entertaining season with Tie-dyed Outcasts, ACTUAL Outcasts and Dead Grandparents Galore, but no real strong strategic players post-merge to speak of. Or, for that matter, pre-merge. Actually, quips aside, Jonny Fairplay 100% deserved the win that season and is actually an incredibly underrated and lethal player, as he immediately proved in Micronesia (at least until the prescription med withdrawal kicked in..)