Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out of My Head

I just can’t get you out of my head, boy your loving is all I think about…

So much has already been written about Can’t Get You Out of My Head that choosing it for the theme of ‘love & hate’ seems too pat, too easy; the aphorisms about obsessive, destructive love write themselves. But if you can’t entirely control who you fall in love with, you certainly can’t decide which songs soundtrack your time together. The first time I heard CGYOOMH I was in S’ bedroom, lying on his crisp white sheets basking in the strident sunshine. He lived with his parents and brother, none of whom knew (officially, at least) that he was gay. I was his ‘friend’ who lived quite a distance away and so had to stay over a lot. His brother’s blasting of ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’ when I visited for the first time after S returned from a two-week holiday all-but-confirmed that no-one was taken in by this story.

“Have you heard the new Kylie song? It’s going to be massive” he had said earlier. When we turned on the radio it soon came on (of course it did – it went on to become one of UK radio’s most-played songs ever) and I instantly knew he was right. That beguiling chant moved something primal and within seconds you believed that this song had always existed; it had only just escaped.

The song conquered the world and not a further day with S passed by without us hearing it. I was only 21 but S was a few years younger and exploding with irrepressible energy, so I felt much older. I took to this role with gusto. I had to, really, as S had made it known when we started dating that he was planning on moving to London in 6 months’ time. So I was guarded and ‘responsible’. I’d like to say that I was fearful of getting hurt but at the time I would probably have leapt at the chance, such a novice was I in matters of the heart. I vividly remember sitting in a club one night as CGYOOMH played and S presented me with a bracelet. “I love that you’re always so calm and reasonable” he said.

It all changed when S went away for aforementioned holiday and I missed him. God, I missed him. I felt it as a physical pain, I couldn’t function properly and I’d receive his texts with a gratitude bordering on hysteria.  And so, as pat as it sounds, I began to understand the undercurrent of CGYOOMH. How could I not? Every day I was hearing something which grabbed the knotted hurt inside of me and threw it into the world:

Won’t you stay? Stay forever and ever and ever and ever….

Things changed after that. It was my first understanding of the power dynamics in relationships and, most pointedly, that saying ‘treat them mean, keep them keen’. When I had been disengaged and casually interested, S was a bounding puppy of affection, always striving to keep my attention. Once I had fallen hard for him, he pulled back. CGYOOMH was always there, burrowing deeper and deeper into my psyche, becoming ever more desperate and urgent. Finally a date for his London move was decided and we met in a subterranean bar in Glasgow to decide our future. I was acutely eager to spend as much time with him as possible and we decided we’d keep dating at least until he left for good. Ten minutes after I left him that day I realised that I couldn’t do it. He was already too dominant in my being, my thoughts, my days, my life – I realised that another 2 months of him followed by… nothing…would destroy me. I ran to the train station where he was heading home and caught him literally as he boarded the train, shouting “I’m sorry, I can’t do it, we need to break up!” as the doors closed. Again, that sounds like creative license, an event borrowed from a bad melodrama but it happened. His face betrayed utter bewilderment as the train pulled away. I went home and sat in my brother’s bedroom sobbing.

The subsequent period until he left was difficult. I would feel sick to the core if I even discovered that he had been out, let alone if I bumped into him. God knows how people going through their first break-ups cope in a world of Facebook and Twitter. I found out that he had started sleeping with an ex and a couple of attempts at hanging out ‘as friends’ confirmed that I had to keep my distance. The last time I remember seeing him before his move was at his leaving party. I didn’t hate him but I was glad he was finally leaving. Someone gave him Kylie’s Fever album as a going away present.

My next serious boyfriend hated Kylie.

I bumped into S years later in a London club. The passage of time meant that I had enormous affection for the 6 months I had spent with him but nothing was stirred in the present day. We spoke for ten minutes, hugged and went our separate ways.

These days I can make convenient observations about CGYOOMH and its darkness but really, it’s a great pop song that’s been rather over-played.

Philip Matusavage writes about pop and (UK) politics. His tumblr has been one of my favourite finds of the year; you should follow him.

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