Album: Please, 1986
Justification: When I was about eleven, my Auntie Annette made a fateful decision: she bought me a magazine subscription for my birthday. Specifically, it was a subscription to the then-fairly-new Australian Smash Hits, which was based heavily on the parent English pop magazine. This had two terrible consequences:
1. it fed into my already near-pathological obsession with music, and
2. it made me aware that there were people who made a living writing about it.
Not long after Australian Smash Hits started up, my favourite writer – a sub-editor of the UK version named Neil Tennant – left the magazine because, as a proud little news piece made clear, his synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys had been signed to Parlophone – the EMI-owned label that had been home to the Beatles. This alerted me to point number 3:
3. The music industry is so closely integrated that writing about music might make you a popstar.*
Since I adored Tennant’s writing I assumed – correctly, as it turned out – that I’d also adore his music, which is why for a while there I had the largest collection of Pet Shop Boys records in the heterosexual community. And this, for the longest time, was my absolute favourite: how many singles can boast an opening couplet as perfect as “I’ve had enough of scheming and messing ‘round with jerks / My car is parked outside: I’m afraid it doesn’t work”?
I finally got to interview Neil Tennant in 2009, and at the end of the interview swallowed my pride and told him that he’d been indirectly responsible for the chain of events that led to me becoming a music journalist. “Well,” he said brightly, “if I had anything to do with that interview, I’m very proud.”
I damn near cried.
*I was already aware that it worked the other way too, with ex-popstars becoming writers: one of my earliest single purchases had been ‘Gymnasium’ by former Sports frontman Stephen Cummings, for reasons that I can’t possibly comprehend, who was also an occasional reviewer for Smash Hits. That was the career trajectory I followed more closely, actually, only without the actually-being-a-popstar bit.