Recently I have been trying to find out more about Australian pop music, and Australian pop culture in general. Who are their biggest pop stars? What are the most popular TV shows (beyond Neighbours of course). When I was having a look online, I came across a music video which appeared to feature a schoolgirl doing a song about how much she’d like to be a famous singer. But something didn’t seem totally right about this.
Who was this girl? Was this for real? I had to find out, and it turned out that this was actually, er, a 33-year-old woman, and this is the full story. In 1988 a sketch show launched on Australian TV called The Comedy Company, which featured various regular characters. One of them was Kylie Mole, a rather bratty girl, who was played by comedian Mary-Anne Fahey (surely not a distant relative of Siobhan???).
She was always telling stories about the other children at school, along with her brother Adam (not me, honest!). She did remind me somewhat of Marmalade Atkins and yeah but no but yeah but no but shut up you don’t even know what you’re talking about don’t go giving me evils! I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me there. This character became popular enough to release a book, appear in an advert for the Commodore Amiga 500, and in October 1988, she even released a single.
There are some things that amused me about “So Excellent” (yes, that was her catchphrase). Firstly, it does sound accurately like a Stock/Aitken/Waterman knock-off (Kylie Minogue’s hit singles around this time were produced by S/A/W, but it wouldn’t be long before they ran out of steam and their actual songs sounded like knock-offs of their style). I also liked the way that she said “play the drams” in an exaggerated Aussie accent.
And I felt that the video managed to capture the “all girls sing with a hairbrush looking into the mirror and aspire to be pop stars” cliché in an amusing way. There is a part where she has pink hair, and really does look like Jem (I don’t know if that’s intentional or not though), while later she has white hair and resembles Lady Gaga a little. Outrageous! This seemed to be parodying Australian Idol about 15 years before it existed. Anybody who didn’t like this song was clearly a bogan.
“So Excellent” reached no. 8 in Australia, and I was just so amused that this was a Top Ten hit single for real, girls really did go out and buy this, people down under are clearly fond of their comedy/novelty songs too. Seriously, Amanda is gonna spew blood when she finds out! The B-side “I Go I Go” is rather enjoyable too. This was never released in the UK though, which strikes me as something of a missed opportunity really.
This was definitely one of the unlikeliest hits of the 80s, a real lost classic if ever there was one (probably). For all I know Kylie Mole could be as well-known an Australian comedy character as Dame Edna Everage, or that bloke in Kath And Kim, but for a short moment she blurred the line between fantasy and reality. Kylie Minogue did see the funny side of all of this though, eventually. I suppose the real message is you should never give up on your dreams. I wonder where she is now.