|Studio album by Kylie Minogue|
|Released||1 November 1997|
|Recorded||October 1995 - May 1997;
Dave and Ingo's Place, DMC Studios, Mayfair Studios, Real World Studios, Roundhouse, Sarm East Studios, Sarm West Studios, Spike Studios
|Kylie Minogue chronology|
Limited edition three-dimensional album cover
|Singles from Impossible Princess|
Impossible Princess is the sixth studio album by Australian recording artist Kylie Minogue, released on 1 November 1997 by Deconstruction Records. Minogue started working on the new album when travelling with then-boyfriend Stéphane Sednaoui to various countries. Following the sessions with Dave Ball, Ingo Vauk, Brothers in Rhythm, Manic Street Preachers and Rob Dougan, Deconstruction's A&R department had not been present for much of the recording due to Hadfield's poor health. This left Minogue with partial creative control over the project. The album took over two years to finish, making it the longest project ever penned by Minogue since her success on the 1987's TV series Neighbours.
Musically, the album is a pop and dance album with strong elements of trip-hop music within its composition, finding influences in techno, drum and bass, indie rock and folk and, making it a departure from her previous work. Minogue contributed to all the lyrics and composition of the album. While on her travels, she begun writing songs in different locations away from her home in Chelsea, London, exploring the themes and meaning of the sentences. There are many themes associated with the album, as a result of her exploration of her celebrity status, self-identification as an artist, her relationship with Sednaoui and her feelings towards her life at that point.
Upon release, the album received mixed reviews. Some critics complimented its fluent nature, while others criticized her attempt for credibility and felt the image projected towards the album was fraud-like. Impossible Princess was a success in Minogue's native Australia, where it reached number four on the Australian Albums Chart and number one on the Australian Music Report chart in January 1998, and was certified Platinum. In the United Kingdom, however, it was a commercial disappointment, peaking just inside the top ten. The album was retitled Kylie Minogue in the UK following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in August 1997. Four singles were released from the album, which fared well critically but lacked chart progression.
The album was supported by the Intimate and Live concert tour, which was critically acclaimed. Critics alike had considered the album to be an example of Minogue's constant "reinventions". Dubbing her as "Indie Kylie", it has been recognized as one of Minogue's greatest triumphs and had been recognized as a big step forward in terms of her musical composition. The album was recognized for its critical comparison of Madonna's Ray of Light (1998), which was released at a similar time. A remastered edition of Impossible Princess with title reinstated, was issued by BMG in 2003 with a bonus disc of remixes and B-sides. The album has received retrospective acclaim from critics and recognition, calling it one of the most underrated albums in pop history.
- 1 Background
- 2 Recording and production
- 3 Composition
- 4 Packaging and title
- 5 Release
- 6 Critical reception
- 7 Commercial performance
- 8 Intimate and Live Tour
- 9 Singles
- 10 Impact and legacy
- 11 Track listing
- 12 Release formats
- 13 Personnel
- 14 Charts
- 15 Certifications
- 16 Release history
- 17 See also
- 18 References
In late 1992, Minogue released her two singles "What Kind of Fool (Heard All That Before) and "Celebration". These singles were to conclude her releases with PWL, the record label she had been with since 1987. Tabloids back then were observant on PWL creating too similar music for other artists that signed to the label. Although she signed for three albums with PWL, she recorded four in total, with Let's Get To It being her first album to feature songwriting credits by Minogue. Her final album with PWL charted successfully and was certified platinum and gold in both Australia and United Kingdom respectively. She left PWL in August 1992 and signed with UK independent label Deconstruction Records to create a new musical project.
The project included a variety of new producers and songwriters including Steve Anderson, Dave Seaman and Brothers in Rhythm. Both Anderson and Brothers in Rhythm had worked with Minogue previously – on her 1992 single, "Finer Feelings". Anderson remains as Minogue's musical director to this day. Kylie Minogue, the fifth studio album and first with Deconstruction, was released in September 1994 and yelled three singles; the successful hit "Confide In Me", "Put Yourself In My Place" and "Where Is the Feeling?". Both critically and commercially successful, the album peaked inside the top 5 in Australia and the UK, and went on to sell two million copies.
In early 1995, Minogue recorded the song "Where the Wild Roses Grow", a duet with Australian rock musician Nick Cave. Cave had been interested in working with Minogue since hearing "Better the Devil You Know" (April 1990), saying it contained "one of pop music's most violent and distressing lyrics". The single, released in October 1995 peaked inside the top ten in Australia, Belgium, Sweden, and Finland; and inside the top twenty in New Zealand and the UK. It achieve critical acclaim from many of Minogue's fiercest critics, who praised her transition from being the once-dubbed "singing budgie" to a mature woman. She later credited him with giving her the confidence to express herself through her music, saying, "he taught me to never veer too far from who I am, but to go further, try different things, and never lose sight of myself at the core. For me, the hard part was unleashing the core of myself and being totally truthful in my music".
While starting on the new album, Minogue began a personal relationship with French photographer Stéphane Sednaoui. Together they embarked on a series of trips across the United States and southern China to help her become inspired for the album. The trips and her relationship with Sednaoui made Minogue feel free to express her own creativity and talent. Sednaoui also introduced her to the work of musicians including Björk, Shirley Manson and her band Garbage, Towa Tei and the band U2, all of whom would influence the musical styles on Impossible Princess. In an interview published by NME, Minogue felt that she trusted his judgement in being more experimental and having more creative control; "I would like to put myself in an experiment. You know, you've got the Bosnian compilation [the 1995 War Child charity disc The Help Album] where the common denominator is the theme of the album? Well, I'd like to make the common denominator myself and see what a load of different producers and artists can do for me".
Recording and production
When she returned with Sednaoui from her trips, Minogue was writing down words, exploring the form and meaning of sentences. She had written lyrics before, but described them as "safe, just neatly rhymed words and that's that". Each morning, Minogue would present lyrics to Seaman from the night before. Seaman described writing with Minogue: "[She] would write the lyrics down and as a natural singer, would sing her ideas of how it might go melodically". Minogue co-wrote dozens of songs over a two-year period, many of which remain unreleased. After a set of lyrics were completed, she would record a vocal demo and evaluate the song's potential.
Brothers in Rhythm, a house music duo consisting of Anderson and Seaman, were chosen as producers of the album. Minogue and Brothers in Rhythm began recording rough demos at Real World studios in Bath, England. The demos were later rearranged and instruments were added to replace the samples or keyboards initially emulating them. All string and orchestral arrangements were recorded at Sarm West studios in London by Anderson and Gavyn Wright, and in mid-1996, the album was mixed at Real World studios by Alan Bremner. The recording of Impossible Princess took nearly two years, becoming the longest period of time Minogue had worked on a project since her time acting on the Australian soap opera Neighbours (from 1986 to 1988). Anderson later explained that its lengthy time was "due to the pure perfectionism of all creatively involved".
Minogue revealed that each song has its "own Kylie persona" and wanted the album to be her most personal effort. She told Australian TV presenter Richard Wilkins from Entertainment Tonight in 1998; "The only thing I can say about [Impossible Princess] is it will be the most personal thing I've done ... It's been the most exciting time to be able to write my own lyrics, my own songs and watch these songs grow and morph into this and that and in what I'm really pleased with". The first song recorded for the album was at Real World Studios which was called "You're the One", which did not make the album. Minogue, Seaman and Anderson begun writing the first set of lyrics while on her travels from Australia and England, which eventually turned out to become "Dreams". However, Minogue originally scrapped the song from the project because she felt it didn't fit in; she did reveal it was "at the top of the pile, just hanging around." For "Some Kind of Bliss" and "I Don't Need Anyone", Minogue and Bradfield had written two separate sets of lyrics and Minogue intended to record all four written lyrics into four songs. However, he took parts from each set and blended them together to create the songs.
Being interviewed by the publication Mag UK, she revealed that writing the lyrics to all the songs was an easy process by saying "No [asked if it was hard or not] strangely enough it wasn't hard enough at all. It was really easy ... I started lots of diary's and burnt them all, I just made a mistake by going back through them and think 'Oh my god thats really bad.'" For an interview with TV host Richard Stubbs on Hey Hey It's Saturday, She had joked that she hated herself that she had to be referred as a songwriter on the album credits. When asked if it was nerve-wracking, she said "I didn't find it nerve-wracking this time because I was really pleased with what I done. I had so many delays with the album and I wanted to let it out".
Soon after, Minogue collaborated with Bradfield, who had tried to work with her years prior to this. He originally wanted to record a duet with Minogue back in 1991 with his band Manic Street Preachers but Minogue did not know this at the time. Bradfield had contacted Minogue's A&R Pete Hadfield, asking him what their current project was where Hadfield replied "Kylie Minogue's new album". He asked Hadfield if he could work with Minogue and was approved. Bradfield had an idea for the song "I Don't Need Anyone" and he wrote the song until he had shown Minogue, till which she had added her lyrics in. When Bradfield sent her a demo of "I Don't Need Anyone", she loved it instantly; "it was so refreshing to hear something so different from what I had been working on. To have something so fresh come in that somebody else had been working on and taken control of, was a nice break for me."
The song contains an aggressive vocal style, with alternative and Eastern musical influences.
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Minogue revealed that she had participated in co-producing and co-composing certain tracks off Impossible Princess, but was never credited this. The album contains mostly live instrumentation, specifically the Bradfield collaborations where Minogue commented; "I was joking with [James Dean Brafield] 'Oh my god, every instrument is a real instrument, I don't think I've ever had this before!" She felt that the composition was different and unusual for her because she was used to synthesizers and many other electronic instrumentation, and eventually felt the album was a "nice mixture". During the composing process, Minogue was very interested in participating in the process where she joked "They couldn't get rid of me!". Because Minogue wanted to have more credibility, she wanted to know more about composing the tracks and had to be there from start to finish. During the middle of the album sessions, she often turned up late and asked "technical nerd questions" because she wants more information on how to change and distort the songs like "Say Hey" and "Breathe".
The album's sound draws from a variety of early-1990 genres to the extent where Chris True from Allmusic said the album's musical composition had been attributed due to the rapid 1990s music change to techno, informally dubbed as "Techno Revolution". Minogue cited The Verve, The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, The Eels, among others that influenced her through the process of the album and likened the "British pop" scene. The most frequent genre, trip-hop became successful during the 1990s era with a number of various musical acts such as Massive Attack, a British trip hop group which helped bring the genre to mainstream success in the era. Their debut studio album Blue Lines is generally considered to be the first trip-hop album ever, as it received unanimous acclaim from older and modern music critics though the term was not widely used before 1994.
A departure from her traditional bubblegum pop approach, the album combines trip-hop, techno, britpop, pop music, indie rock and dance music. True identified the album as an dance, europop and adult contemporary-inspired album. Marcel Anders from Orkus stated that though the album includes guitar-based tracks, "Most tracks are still very dancefloor oriented." He commented that trip-hop, disco and britpop were all influenced in all twelve tracks. Music critic Michael R. Smith from the DailyVault.com agreed with it showing techno influences, a reviewer from the publication Classic Pop Magazine found influences of 1990s inspired britpop while Digital Spy critic Nick Levine felt the album was "all over the dance-pop shop". In an Japanese interview in 1997, Minogue herself labelled the album a pop and dance album.
There are several tracks from the album that integrate similar musical styles, while there are some that are singular in composition. Tracks including "Too Far" and "Limbo" are influenced by schizophrenic drum and bass and rock music. Minogue identified "Say Hey" as a late night or early morning track, resembling the essence of dusk and dawn. "I Don't Need Anyone", a solid rock song with indie rock and alternative elements was the album's most straightforward and uplifting tracks. "Jump" is a trip-hop track and was commended as a beautifully downbeat song that shows "an heart aching account of determination and acceptance". "Breathe" is based around dance music. Minogue worked on the vocal synthesiser that is present on the bridge of the song at 3 minutes and twelve seconds. "Drunk" is a techno-inspired song that features elements of dance-pop and electronica was compared to songs from Madonna's album Ray of Light.
Some tracks, however, have their own singular composition that doesn't share with other tracks on the album. "Cowboy Style" is a country pop song that has been influenced by celtic country elements. The album's lead single "Some Kind of Bliss" provided Minogue with an edgier sound, with guitars taking the place of the drum machine beats heavily featured on her earlier efforts. The fourth track "Did It Again" used a similar approach to the lead single which uses electric guitars, drums, acoustic guitars and keyboards. "Through the Years" was written Minogue, Vauk and Ball and was frequently compared to Björk's single "Venus as a Boy".
Because Minogue was travelling around the world, Minogue had developed a series of inspirations and themes for this album. Minogue is credited as the co-writer to all the songs on the album. Majority off the tracks recorded for this album were written in Spain, Japan, Australia, United States, France and England. "Too Far" was written away from her home because she felt the whole atmosphere in her household contained too much anger, so she wrote this at a local cafe she regularly visits. Written in Japan, "Breathe" was written at a point where Minogue felt calm. She recalled her being annoyed in a quiet and relaxed sense, often saying "I'm thinking" in order to concentrate in what really was going on. "Dreams" details her passion in pushing boundaries and potentially have, anything that is impossible. "Limbo" described Minogue's frustration that she could not see anyone outside a certain country due to bureaucracy laws, which was rumored to be about Sednaoui who lived in France. Written in Barcelona, Spain, Tthe lyrics to "Limbo" were written in a different song but was never materialized.
Another core theme that plays a big part off the tracks is her relationship with Sednaoui (and previous relationships). Minogue commented about "Cowboy Style"; "That I wrote early on in the making of the album, and its basically about meeting my boyfriend." William Baker, who to this day is Minogue's close friend and creative director, felt the song was inspired by Middle Eastern culture and mysticism "Say Hey" recalls Minogue in the bathtub late at night. She felt that she needed to call her boyfriend "not to necessarily speak with him but, just to leave a message." She later recalled that she didn't need to contact Sednaoui. "Drunk" was about her anger towards Sednaoui that she was desperate for satisfaction between her and him. She commented that the song was about "taking all off her" and "not some off her" "Through the Years" was the only song on the album to have talked about her previous relationships with other men, apart from Sednaoui.
Minogue's own self imagery and status as a celebrity was a source of inspiration in many of the lyrics on the album. On "Did It Again", Minogue is telling herself off for "doing things again from what I always do" and expresses self-consciousness, where the press started dubbing her "Kylie Thinogue". Some critics likened how Minogue portrayed herself in the video to create an image of insecurities, basing on both the four Kylie's and the lyrical content. The lead single "Some Kind of Bliss" explains her happiness and said "And, to me [the song] is about being able, not nessecarily shut your eyes and feel that someone is there but they way where you are close to someone [...] the ability to feel like they're with you even if they are a million miles away." "Jump" is about accepting who she is and who she wants to be.
Packaging and title
The album sleeve was designed and photographed by boyfriend Stephane Sednaoui. The original title was to commence the word "The" in order to direct the "Impossible Princess" as Minogue, but the word was later dropped. The cover artwork features Minogue inside a cut cone that is projected by purple, blue, pink, yellow and red lighting, with no title or name imprinted on the cover. The original photoshoot was shot in a blue and yellow hue but was later change. When she and Sednaoui had embarked their series of trips around the globe, Minogue and Sednaoui became inspired by the Japanese and French pop culture, and became interested in photography, identifying Nobuyoshi Araki as an inspiration. Araki had often photographed several Japanese woman that managed to maintain a "dangerously seductive" and "powerful femininity" and presented them hind or in front of flowers. To prepare for the video for "GBI: German Bold Italic", Minogue and Baker traveled to costume houses in New York City to find unique kimono outfits and obe. They both had found a kimono in Greenwich Village but later asked the woman who sold it to help her into the costume as Minogue found it difficult to wear. Minogue's makeup artist for the video was Paul Starr, who was inspired by the traditional geisha and New Romantic era. After they shot the video in New York in 1997, the video remained unreleased until the song was fully released in October 1998.
Sednaoui had given Minogue the book Memoirs of a Geisha, to which she found inspiration from before the photoshoot commenced. Sednaoui, who was hugely influenced by the traditional Japanese culture, compared her as a combination of a geisha and manga heroine which resembled the interpretation of femininity; "powerful, dynamic, seductive and entrancing, yet somehow masked and tied to the invisible bonds of her own tradition - her pop celebrity life." Manga in general became the main theme for the album photoshoot. Many of Baker's friends had supplied Minogue with latex catsuits, stilettos and silicon breasts for the shoot in order to create a real life-like anime character but Minogue did not wear any of these.
The cover photo shoot ran for a week, with Minogue not leaving the studio until 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. Shooting a cover in 3-D required multiple static cameras and she grew tired of posing for long periods of time. Its background of swirling lights was achieved by Sednaoui, who was dressed in black-out suit, he ran around the singer with a light covered by plastic gels. Minogue was dressed in a blue and dotted Véronique Leroy mini dress. Minogue recalled "The shoot was so very difficult but we knew that once we got it right it would be amazing." Sednaoui exclaimed that Minogue had a lot of positive energy through the shoot, writing that "Besides the Impossible Princess 3D cover, which was technically complicated and physically demanding for Kylie, all the other shoots we did were always fun and easy ..."
Some previously unreleased photos were featured in Minogue's self-released books but most remain unpublished. Some show Minogue in front of castles and city backdrops, representing the many kingdoms of an impossible princess. The 3D cover was released in Japan in November 1997 and was accompanied by four limited edition postcards. Critics also dissected the photo shoot and the single covers associated with the album: they felt the artwork was darker and more mysterious. For the "Did It Again" single artwork, Minogue sported a dark, indie-rock image. The title references Poems to Break the Harts of Impossible Princesses (1994) by Billy Childish. It was given to Minogue as a gift by Cave; she said its poems summarized where she was at that time in her life. She recalled "The first time I saw the name Impossible Princess, It had me written all over it." She elaborated "It is practically about everything, even impossible things - The desires to have all my sense full, to experience life in the most possible way. " Due to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in August 1997, the title was changed to Kylie Minogue for the UK and the rest of Europe. its appearance was delayed in Australia, New Zealand and the UK as the timing was "inappropriate".
Impossible Princess had been set for a January release in 1997 and expected to release the accompanying lead single to promote the album. Hadfield, who still commenced the promotional activity, was intentionally concerned with the lack of single choices, where he felt the songs written by Minogue were not up to commercial standards. Because of this, a potential January 1997 single release was postponed so producers can make to the album "too perfect". This was eventually pushed back to a May release, then September. Minogue became very concerned about the constant delays so Deconstruction issued an exclusive radio release of the new songs, while the UK received an album containing six songs.
Impossible Princess was released on November 1, 1997 in Japan and Taiwan by BMG with the bonus track "Tears", limited postcards that featured unreleased footage off her album photo shoot and the limited lenticular cover sleeve. After the Japanese release, the album was abruptly postponed in the Oceania and Europe after the death of Princess Diana that occurred in late August 1997. It was released in the Oceania in February 1998 by Mushroom Records; then in mid-year in the UK by Deconstruction. Australia received a free exclusive single that featured six tracks to accommodate the album, but HMV had withdrawn the single on request and replaced it with a new single that featured three new tracks. In an interview with Billboard, she announced plans for a US release by commenting "I'm ready to tackle that territory". Minogue and Deconstruction had "plans" for a US release after the UK and Australian promotion had ended, and contemplated in using her i-D shoot as the album cover, but failed because Deconstruction could not find a US label to promote it. Ultimately, after commercial disappointment, plans were scrapped.
At the UK launch of her album, she said that her record label did not force her in changing her media portrayal and allowed her to naturally change, saying "its not like that." Minogue's view on Impossible Princess was to be taken seriously as an artist and songwriter. Though she was reluctant in being in charge of the album, she reaffirmed "It's my album more than ever ... it's the album I've had most to do with." She believed that her new image would receive a positive approach to many of the public and fans, by not confining herself to a "pigeonhole". When interviewed by a reporter for The Times, they asked about the delay off the album and she responded "I could be upset, but then you have to look at the bigger picture, and I have no right to be annoyed. It's just been delayed because of a tragedy occured. Shit happens."
The list below are a series of singles, compilations and extended plays that accommodated the albums release:
- Other Sides (1998)
- Live and Other Sides (1998)
- Mixes (1998)
- Impossible Remixes (1998)
- Confide in Me (2002)
- Kylie Minogue: Artist Collection (2004)
- Kylie Minogue / Impossible Princess (2007)
- Confide in Me: The Irresistible Kylie (2008)
|Classic Pop Magazine||(Positive)|
|The Daily Vault||(A-)|
Impossible Princess received critical acclaim from music critics. Billboard 's Larry Flick described the album as "stunning", concluding that "[i]t's a golden commercial opportunity for a major [record company] with vision and energy [to release it in the United States]. A sharp ear will detect a kinship between Impossible Princess and Madonna's hugely successful album, Ray of Light." Chris True of Allmusic called it "a pretty damn good record" and opined, "Unlike [Minogue's] early work, this album sounds stronger and has a more natural feel. Her songwriting abilities have come a long way, and Impossible Princess actually flows together as an album." Sarah Smith from FasterLouder said the album is one of the most adventurous pop albums of the '90s. She felt the album "defied critics' expectations of Kylie, who for the first (and last) time in her career left "the real Kylie" fully exposed."
Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine was impressed with the album's "starkly personal and unified cord". He noted the album found her "stretching herself way beyond anything she had done before (or anything she has done since)" and "is the work of an artist willing to take risks, not a pop queen concerned with preserving her reign." Levine from Digital Spy commended the album for being her most "intriguing" album of her career. Levine wrote that although the content mismatches at times, "it's a key piece in the trickier-than-you-think jigsaw puzzle that is Kylie Minogue's recording career." While review her album X, Evan Sawdey from PopMatters critically praised the album in saying "For those who still have a copy of her Manic Street Preachers-assisted [Impossible Princess], then you have one of the most crazed, damn-near perfect dance-pop albums ever created."
John Mangan, in a review for The Age said that the album "sounds right and constitutes another step in the right direction", praising the "moody trip-hop style" of "Jump" and the "funky hoe-down sound" of "Cowboy Style". A reviewer from Australian magazine Who compared Minogue's singing to a young Sinéad O'Connor, praising her range in vocal styles. The author also commented that it was a major step towards her gaining credibility in the music industry. Smith from The Daily Vault cited it as the singer's best album; his positive review continued: "Impossible Princess was a giant step forward for Kylie. She may have overshot her mark [...] and since this one she has returned to the predictable, safe dance music that she is known for."
The album was generally criticized for the albums over production and musical shift. Ben Willmott of NME slammed the entire work and Minogue's musical direction, branding her "a total fraud" that was "unconvincing". Specifically, he lambasted her collaborations with Bradfield, panning "Some Kind of Bliss" as "supremely irritating". A reviewer from the publication Music Week was less than impressed, writing that "Kylie's vocals take on a stroppy edge ... but not strong enough to do much". Listing their best Kylie songs, a reviewer from Samesame.com.au said "[Impossible Princess] remains Kylie watershed moment creatively. Recorded over two years and free from many record company restrictions pushing her here and there, the resulting LP remains Kylie at her most pure."
Impossible Princess was noteworthy in many award ceremonies. It was nominated three times at the ARIA Music Awards, for "Album of the Year", "Best Female Artist" and "Best Pop Release", which lost respectively, and the two singles; "Did It Again" and "Cowboy Style" was nominated for "Single of the Year" and "Best Female Artist" respectively. This became her first album to be nominated for Album of the Year by the organisation. Sarah Smith from FasterLouder rated the album at number five on their The Most Underrated Albums of All Time, saying "Why Madonna's [Ray Of Light] was acclaimed for pushing these boundaries at the very same moment [Impossible Princess] was maligned for it, is confusing, but perhaps best explained by the music media's ongoing narrative of these two singers: Madonna is meant to challenge, Kylie, to smile, pout and spin round." Slant Magazine included the album on their Vital Pop: 50 Essential Pop Albums list in June 2003.
At the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards, Minogue won the International Viewer's Choice Awards (Australian entry) for "Did It Again". That same year, Minogue was awarded an special achievement award from the Government of Australia for her contribution towards Australia's Music Exports.
Impossible Princess proved to be an success in Australia. The album debuted and peaked at number four on the ARIA Albums Chart and number one on the Australian Music Report chart in January 1998. It became the highest debuting album on the top 50 chart for the week end 25 January 1998. It dropped to eight for two consecutive weeks, unable to reach a higher position and descended out of the chart on the week end 26 April 1998, staying in the charts for fourteen weeks. It re-entered at number forty and managed to enter back inside the top ten, staying there for three non-consecutive weeks and stayed in the albums chart for thirty-five weeks in the top fifty (including three separate stays in the Top 10 during its run) making it Minogue's longest-charting album at that point. It became the thirty-first best-selling album of 1998 and was certified Platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipments of 70,000 copies.
In the UK, the album's success differed from Australia's success. Re-titled simply as Kylie Minogue, it entered the UK Albums Chart at number ten on 4 April 1998. Despite being higher than her previous album Let's Get To It, which reached number fifteen, it descended its way out and had a duration of four weeks, in compare to the other album which stayed in for sixteen weeks on the chart and was certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on 1 April 1998. Despite the higher charting peak, Impossible Princess was deemed Minogue's worst selling studio album to date. Publications in the United Kingdom pointed out that the lack of devoted promotion with a tour was a benefit of low sales, along with Minogue's radical change through the media industry, who criticised her appearance and the material on the record. After a year of its release, UK Virgin Radio mocked the sales of the album along with Minogue's concepts, stating: "We've done something to improve Kylie's records: we've banned them."
Intimate and Live Tour
Minogue embarked a promotional tour in the Oceanic region in October 1997. Minogue performed in Singapore and then followed with Australian state capitals Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide. Next was Auckland and she finished off in Hong Kong. After the albums European release, she went on to promote the album with concert gigs in Norway, Denmark and Holland. Minogue embarked an Australian and European tour Intimate and Live, which spanned from 2 June 1998 to 8 July 1998. Minogue started rehearsing for the tour while she was asked to perform at the 1998 Sydney Mardi Gras in January. The production made for the tour was on a lower budget than her previous tours, only to give it more off a "special and unique" atmosphere. She decided to have it low budget so she could establish more risks in her performances rather than have a production bigger than her.
Kylie and Baker had started drawing stage concepts of how the tour would look like and wanted it to reflect onto the album's personal meaning. Objects in the album's content, including the "K" symbol and the multi-coloured cone had been featured on the tour. During the tour, Minogue was accompanied by only two dancers (David Scotchford and Ashley Wallen) and a backing group – mainly John Farnham's band members – with added backing vocalists. Despite initial plans not to take the show outside of Australia, she decided to extend it into Europe due to high demand. From the supporting album, Minogue performed "Too Far", "Some Kind of Bliss", "Breathe", "Cowboy Style", "Say Hey", "Drunk", "Did It Again", "Limbo" and unreleased track "Free". The live album with the same name was released on 30 November 1998 in Australia and the live DVD with the same name was released in July 2002.
"Some Kind of Bliss" was released as the lead single from the album on 8 September 1997. Originally, "Limbo" was registered for being the lead single off the album but was refused by her label. This ultimately created a deadlock between them, where the label later recommended this song. "Some Kind of Bliss" received negative reviews from most music critics, many who were not convinced with her transfer to rock music and criticized the production. It achieved moderate success around the globe, peaking inside the top forty in Australia, Greece, Hungary and the United Kingdom, her first single to miss the top twenty in both her native country and the UK. The single was released the week of Diana, Princess of Wales's funeral and had to compete against Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997", but ultimately peaked at number 22. The album's second single "Did It Again" was released on 24 November 1997. It became a top-twenty hit for Minogue in the UK and Australia, which became her only top twenty single in both countries during the Princess era. The song received positive commentary from music critics who felt it was better than the lead single. The song also featured a music video, directed by Pedro Romanhi. Minogue satirised her image in the video, in which four major incarnations of her career, "Indie Kylie", "Dance Kylie", "Sex Kylie", and "Cute Kylie", battled for supremacy.
The album's third single "Breathe" was the final single offered by her record label Deconstruction Records and was her third overall on February 1998. The song achieved positive reviews from critics who felt it was a better offering on the album and was singled out as a highlight. The song reached the top twenty in the UK, as well as the top thirty in Australia. It was moderately successful in other parts of the world, but reaching number one in Israel. The album's last single "Cowboy Style" was an Australian-only single released on 18 August 1998 by Mushroom Records. The song was chosen as a single while Minogue was performing on her Intimate and Live tour and due to huge fan impact,. The song achieved positive commentary, who likened her metaphorically twisted lyrical content and praised the Celtic influences. Commercially, the song achieved only limited success, peaking at number thirty-nine on the Australian Singles Chart.
The album's opener "Too Far" was released as the album's first and only promotional single. The song was contemplated on being the lead single for the album by Steve Anderson. After "Some Kind of Bliss'" release, Deconstruction Records released "Too Far" as a promotional single in the United Kingdom and the United States as a radio format and vinyl. The vinyl and its radio format was released as remixes, the first side being the Brothers in Rhythm remix and the other side being the Junior Vasquez Mix.
Impact and legacy
Widely recognized as her most personal and experimental album to date, Impossible Princess was considered to be an example of Minogue's constant "reinventions". During the period, many commentators, critics and her friends alike had often referred her to as "Indie Kylie" mainly due to her creative process during the Impossible Princess era. Minogue herself had commented that she had always disliked being dubbed Indie Kylie. Sean Smith, who wrote the Kylie Confidential book, examined that the era of 1997 and 1998 was her expiernece of "Saturn return". He wrote in the book "Saturn is a great testing planet and the first time it returns to the same position as its birth chart ... It should bring the realization that a substational part of your life has passed and heralds a desire for change." Many critics had believed that, out of all of Minogue's discography, Impossible Princes was her biggest leap forward in terms of musical composition. Chris True from Allmusic examined that "She recruits Manic Street Preachers' James Dean Bradfield, Sean Moore, and Nicky Wire, starts writing unaided, and completely changes musical direction. Enter Kylie Minogue's Impossible Princess (the title was changed to Kylie Minogue after the death of Princess Diana). From the trippy cover art to the abundance of guitars and experimental vocal tracks, this was her "great leap forward."
Minogue's portrayal of four different Kylie's; Sex Kylie, Cute Kylie, Indie Kylie and Dance Kylie was heavily lauded from critics and the public. During an interview given by Minogue for Jetstar Airways magazine, interviewer and journalist Simon Price stated that the four different Kylies were brilliantly satirised in the video. The image she adopted presented a very different image in its active retreat from the glamorous aspects of 'Sex Kylie,' replacing it with a pared-down vision of Minogue, emphasizing a simple sense of style, lack of overt make-up, and a short, elfin-style hairstyle. William Baker commented that "Many of Kylie's fans still regard Impossible Princess as their favourite album, a sentiment shared by many who worked with her ... Even at its release it was received rather well by the critics - but the public was not apparently willing to accept a darker, more serious Kylie. Tom Parker, who wrote the liner notes for the special edition of Impossible Princess, wrote that "One listen proves that [Impossible Princess] is not, as is often suggested, the morose antithesis to Kylie's trademark disco music - it is as full of life and love as many of her greatest hits." He concluded that "Arguably, Kylie's strength has always been her talent for reinvention, her courage to subvert and twist the pop mould without ever quite breaking it completely. As such, and with its intended title finally restored, Impossible Princess remains as one of her greatest triumphs."
Minogue had contributed in her Kylie: La La La biography stating that acknowledging that she had attempted to escape the perceptions of her that had developed during her early career, she commented that she was ready to "forget the painful criticism" and "accept the past, embrace it, use it". Alan McGee from The Observer dissected her image as "Self-realized Kylie" and opined that she had been fighting her previous egos to be taken seriously, "[But] Sadly, Kylie Minogue lost the battle and Impossible Princess bombed. She was written off again." Michael Paoletta from Billboard in the US said that the album is her most misunderstood album in her discography, praising her self-penned tracks "Too Far" and "Say Hey".
Portrayal in media backlash
After its release, Minogue was heavily publicized negatively from media press. Despite its overwhelming acclaim from other parts of the world, the United Kingdom was particularly negative towards her image and album material which had eventually grown in other countries around the world. Many publications at the time were criticizing her because of the album's low success in that region and front pages consisting of Minogue was featured. The singer's radical change of imagery and music had been published worldwide in many newspapers and magazines but this was only because of the negativity the album received and that her fans were less impressed. The image of Indie Kylie, however, was not well received from many of her fans. British press and critics such as NME and Q were decisively negative. Ben Willmoth from NME said that Minogue's new persona as "Indie Kylie" was total "fraud-like" and felt that the only persona that will ever suit her is "Sex Kylie", which has been evident towards her career ever since Impossible Princess'. An editor for Classic Pop magazine said that "[Impossible Princess] still divides Kylie's fanbase into two comps. One half regards the album as a bold artistic statement that strips away the veneer of the pop princess, while the other half sees it as a pretentious vanity project that almost ended her career."
Media press have always compared the album negatively with American singer-songwriter Madonna's 1998 album Ray of Light, which had more success, despite Impossible Princess being released first. Michael R. Smith questioned whether both albums had been influenced similar in coincidence or whether Impossible Princess had copied other artists while Ray of Light served a more superior effort despite criticism. Despite this, he believed that the album deserved a better fate than it did. However, global critics outside Britain including Allmusic, Who and Classic Pop had contrasted, being more positive. Allmusic commented about the negative publicity saying "The album, soon retitled Kylie Minogue in England due to the death of Princess Diana, was successful, but her attempt at developing her sound met firm resistance critically, with many radio stations and journalists writing her off, figuring her career had run its course." On the album's review, True said "The move got her in the papers, but, unfortunately, critical acclaim was lacking (and so were sales). Critics called it a mistake, and the public was less than impressed. Which is sad ..." Adrian Denning said that the album contained the biggest misconception in going "Indie Kylie" and eventually concluded "So, a brave yet flawed album? An inconsistent album? Well, both of those things but also a transitional album that had to be made. Once Kylie had put in such a performance creatively, make no mistake about this being her album, there was no turning back, really." The album became Minogue's lowest selling album to date in the United Kingdom but withheld being her lowest in Australia, which actually became her most successful album since her debut album. Tim Jonze opined that Minogue going back to pop music and disco saved her career if she did another album similar to Impossible Princess.
Reaction by Minogue
During the era, Minogue denounced her release of "Some Kind of Bliss" in the same week release as Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997", which claimed up to 75% percent of the sales in that month. She commented "I think the static was that Elton had 75 percent of the sales that week, so mine didn't get off at a good start." She then related the bad release date to the album's release, stating "I've told not to be frustrated, but I was frustrated because the album should be out ... The point of it is to get it out and maybe people will like it, they may love it or they might hate it, but it was in my hands." She also felt guilt for parting with Stock Aitken Waterman after her production team with deConstruction was not in good terms. A press insider for deConstruction Records revealed that if sales did not increase, they would have immediately dropped her, but Minogue trying all ranges of musical genres and images lead to deConstructions decision to allow her to go. Deconstruction Records had lost a strong profit from income sales of the album and Minogue said she did not enjoy this. Because of the lack of sales and income, Minogue contemplated retirement due to the overwhelming failure of the campaign, saying "I have no qualifications, what else am I suppose to do?"
After the release of her studio album Light Years (2000), Minogue responded about the album to Billboard. She believed that the press branding her "Indie Kylie" scared off her fans, saying "The press had a bit of a field day with it, calling me 'Indie Kylie' and such, which I think people were scared off." She described the era and project as a "bit of a purge." She has since stated that while at the time Impossible Princess was strong, "I've gotten stronger and more focused since that album."
Impossible Princess was Minogue's last album with both her record labels; parent label Deconstruction Records and distribution label Sony BMG. She released a press statement to AAP in Australia stating "I am no longer with deConstruction Records. It was a mutual agreement completely, which is great because it was very amicable. Thank God, because I would have hated it to have been anything other than that. You become like family with a record company, particularly with deConstruction. They're lovely, genuine, Northern bastards!" In an interview in 2008, she told NME that if she ever wrote another album solely by her or wrote song that were personal to her, "it'd be seen as 'Impossible Princess 2'". She did, however reveal that she does not intend to do this because she may fear it "it would be equally critiqued." In October 2012, she revealed that her most disappointing career moment was in fact the low sales of Impossible Princess by stating "look at Impossible Princess - it didn't exactly sell truckloads of album!" She reaffirmed that the period of Impossible Princess was not a period of "mistake" but "wanted more help" than she had received.
In an interview with MudgeGuardian.com, when Minogue was asked if the songs she wrote have a different reaction now than it does then, she replied; Oh yeah, definitely. I don't always realise it at the time. Now when I listen to some of the songs on Impossible Princess - actually, my least successful album - I think, 'Wow, you weren't very happy then, were you?'" In retrospect, both Nick Cave and James Dean Bradfield expressed their loyalty towards her during the time of the album, with Bradfield saying "Kylie, love her to bits. She got dropped because I worked with her, which I am sorry for."
Use in various culture
In a 20 year career revelation, Peter Conrad from The Guardian wrote about the album; "The roles she played jarringly contradicted each other, but Kylie took pride in her inauthenticity. One of her albums admitted as much in its title: it summed her up as an [Impossible Princess]. In a photo story for Vogue Australia, Luhrmann joked more dangerously about the nonentity that lay beneath this versatile shape-changing. Hiring Bert Stern as his photographer, he made Kylie act out the life story of an imaginary starlet. 'Who's that girl?' asked one of Luhrmann's made-up magazine headlines. No one knew, not even the girl herself." Dorian Lysnkey from the same publication exampled Impossible Princess, Massive Attack's name change to "Massive" and The Strokes debut album on why pop culture would not prevent political or social massacre, which used American singer-songwriter Kesha's single "Die Young" as the example for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. When the song was banned from the US temporary because of the shooting, Lysnkey opined that the decisions of removing the song was based on hypersensitivity and hypocrisy while Impossible Princess, Massive Attack and "New York City Cops" were dropped because the decisions may have created panicky decisions based on fear of outrage.
In 2009, American author and screenwriter Kevin Killian wrote the gay poetic book, Impossible Princess which was named after the album. The book, loosely about homosexuality and erotica, was mentioned to be about Minogue herself. Nico Medina, a writer and author, wrote the book entitled The Straight Road to Kylie (2007). The book, which talks about a boy pretending to date a popular it-girl in order to see Kylie Minogue live, comments about the album branding it "Kylie's most masterful album."
Credits adapted from the liner notes of Impossible Princess.
|1.||"Too Far"||Kylie Minogue||
|3.||"Some Kind of Bliss"||
|4.||"Did It Again"||
||Brothers in Rhythm||3:58|
|8.||"I Don't Need Anyone"||
|11.||"Through the Years"||
||Brothers in Rhythm||3:44|
|1997 cassette version|
|1.||"Too Far"||Kylie Minogue||
|3.||"Some Kind of Bliss"||
|4.||"Did It Again"||
||Brothers in Rhythm||3:58|
|8.||"I Don't Need Anyone"||
|11.||"Through the Years"||
||Brothers in Rhythm||3:44|
|Japanese edition bonus track|
|Special edition bonus disc|
|1.||"Love Takes Over Me"||
||Brothers in Rhythm||4:19|
|2.||"Too Far" (Inner Door Mix)||Minogue||
|3.||"Did It Again" (Did It Four Times Mix)||
|4.||"Breathe" (Tee's Dancehall Mix)||
|6.||"Too Far" (Junior's Riff Dub)||Minogue||
|7.||"Breathe" (Tee's Dub of Life)||
|8.||"Some Kind of Bliss" (Quivver Mix)||
|9.||"Did It Again" (Razor-n-Go Dub)||
|10.||"Breathe" (Tee's Glimmer Mix)||
|11.||"Too Far" (North Pole Mix)||Minogue||
- CD — containing the 12-track album.
- CD Japanese Edition — 13-track album including the bonus track "Tears".
- CD Limited Edition — 12-track album including lenticular cover art.
- CD Promo — 12-track album released exclusively in the United Kingdom.
- UK Cassette Promo — 6-track cassette released exclusively in the United Kingdom. Contains the songs "Cowboy Style", "Through the Years", "Breathe", "Jump", "Drunk" and "I Don't Need Anyone".
- CD Australian/New Zealand Sampler — 6-track CD released exclusively in Australia and New Zealand.
- Cassette — containing the 12-tracks.
- 2002 Re-Issue — containing original 12-track album with bonus disc off 12 new remixes/songs.
Credits for Impossible Princess adapted from liner notes.
|Japan||1 November 1997||BMG||CD||BVCP-6068|
|Australia||12 January 1998||Mushroom Records||MUSH33069.2|
|United Kingdom||23 March 1998||Deconstruction Records||CD||74321 51727 2|
|Cassette||74321 51727 4|
|26 May 2003||Special edition||82876511152|
|Australia||September 2003||Mushroom Records||MUSH337322|
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