The soap star music crossovers that Neighbours gifted the world.
Next week, after 37 years, seminal Aussie soap Neighbours comes to an end. While it has launched countless acting careers, the show has also been a starting point for some of the biggest careers in Australian pop. We take you on a journey through the pop stars Neighbours created, the songs it made famous, the music careers it launched and the ones that didn't quite leave the launching pad.
1. Kylie Minogue - Locomotion (1987)
The first time Neighbours made its mark on the charts it was with the 'singing budgie', or as she's now known, 'our Kylie'. Initially not taken seriously by even her own record company, a #1 chart position quickly turned heads and the unlikely four-decade career was born. The Locomotion was a cover of Little Eva's 1962 hit, catapulting Kylie to the top and dragging Neighbours along for the ride.
2. Angry Anderson - Suddenly (1987)
Ok, so Neighbours didn't make Angry a star... Rose Tattoo did that, but how do you create an emotional moment for the wedding of Scott and Charlene? Well you get the singer from a hard rock band and get him to do a completely out-of-character ballad. The song was originally a Rose Tattoo song, but after the band's break up was released as an Angry Anderson solo vehicle. It was 1987 and in the days of hair metal bands having ballad hits, I guess it made sense. The song is now synonymous with the wedding scene and ended up as a #2 hit. What kept it from #1? Well The Locomotion of course...
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3. Kylie Minogue & Jason Donovan - Especially For You (1988)
Ok, so we've already had Kylie, but no Neighbours recap could be complete without this Scott and Charlene duet. Released after their on-screen wedding, Kylie and Jason Donovan rocketed up the chart as Australia and the UK were besotted with their relationship. The song hit #1 in the UK while just missed the mark at #2 here in Australia.
The track will have another shot at the charts thanks to a re-release around the Neighbours finale. Kylie recently tweeted: “Now we ARE back together on ‘Neighbours’, a limited run of ‘Especially for You’ with @JDonOfficial will be available on vinyl and cassette on 5th August to bring back more 80s memories!!”
4. Stefan Dennis - Don't It Make You Feel Good (1989)
Yep. This was a thing. Paul Robinson decided to have a crack at a pop career in 1989, delivering this..... thing. Don't It Make You Feel Good climbed to #17 in the UK charts. A follow-up single that didn't reach the top 50 later and Stefan Dennis decided that as a singer he made a bloody good actor.
5. Craig McLachlan & Check 1-2 - Mona (1990)
With Jason and Stefan already out of commission, a label had to grab another Neighbours star.... enter Kylie's on-screen brother Craig from stage left.
6. Natalie Imbruglia - Torn (1997)
In the early '90s, Natalie Imbruglia was a darling of Ramsay Street playing Beth Brennan, but unlike her fellow pop travellers, Imbruglia wanted to put some space between her Neighbours and pop careers. Seeing herself as a serious musician, she waited a whole three years after leaving the show before dropping her debut single Torn. The public profile didn't hurt though, giving her a massive hit in the UK and Australia. Big Mistake and Wishing I Was There followed creating a massive hit out of her album Left Of The Middle, one of the most enduring musical legacies related to Neighbours.
7. Delta Goodrem - Born To Try (2002)
The '90s was a quiet time for Neighbours as E-Street muscled in as the go-to factory for pop stars (but that's a story for another listicle). Neighbours had gone back to its knitting, welcoming stars like Toadie who were popular on screen, but didn't lend themselves to burgeoning pop careers. Even Kylie went through a bumpy patch.
In the early 2000s that was all about to change though, as an enterprising Glenn Wheatley had signed a pop star by the name of Delta Goodrem and dropped her debut single I Don't Care. After it flopped the strategy was re-evaluated and Wheatley sent Delta to Ramsay Street to give her a base to launch her music career from. It worked, with Born To Try premiered on the show as sung by aspiring singer Nina Tucker, becoming one of the highest-selling singles in Australian music history and propelling the album Innocent Eyes to be the highest-selling Australian album of the decade.
8. Holly Valance - Kiss Kiss (2002)
Delta woke the world up again to Neighbours' ability to launch pop stars and Holly Valance slayed with this UK and Australian #1. After two albums, Valance went back to acting, heading to the US to star in Prison Break after her Neighbours career wrapped.
9. Rogue Traders - Voodoo Child (2005)
Rogue Traders were already a decent name in the Australian dance scene, but teaming up with Neighbours actor Natalie Bassingthwaighte was a stroke of genius, with a string of hits ensuing from the album Here Come The Drums, kicking off with this total banger Voodoo Child. Sampling Elvis Costello's Pump It Up, the combination of the Traders with the Neighbours star was an undeniable winner and for a few years you couldn't move in an Aussie club without this one hitting the dancefloor. The song was also a UK hit, running up to #3, ahead of the #4 position it enjoyed here in Australia.
10. Stephanie McIntosh - Mistake (2006)
By 2006 the second wave of Neighbours pop launches was in full swing, but this is pretty much where the Neighbours pop train started coming off the rails. Even Sky Mangel couldn't save this reasonably average Avril Lavigne reject shine. Definitely a mistake. Largely scrubbed from internet history (we can't even find the video clip), this is to the 2000s Neighbours wave what Stefan Dennis was to the '80s.
11. Alan Fletcher Feat. Alyce Platt - Sorry Is The Word (2022)
So a lot has been written about Neighbours' downfall over the last decade after being shunted off to 10 Peach after less than stellar ratings. We're not going to make a judgement, but here is the last music career to be launched off the show, with Alan "Dr Karl" Fletcher releasing an album. Here he is duetting with Alyce Platt. Yes, the former Sale of the Century co-host Alyce Platt.
12. Barry Crocker (and others) - Neighbours Theme
How can we round out such an inspired musical legacy? Why with the best of the lot. Barry Crocker's famous theme song. And because the internet exists, here's EVERY version of the theme from over the years. Vale Neighbours. Thank you for the memories. And the tunes.