|Studio album by Kylie Minogue|
|Released||1 November 1997|
|Recorded||October 1995 - May 1997|
|Genre||Pop rock, dance-pop, trip hop|
|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. It was released in Japan on 1 November 1997 by BMG Records, in Australia on 12 January 1998 by Mushroom Records and in Europe on 23 March 1998 by Deconstruction Records. The album was produced by Dave Ball, Ingo Vauk, Brothers in Rhythm, Manic Street Preachers and Rob Dougan. Many critics complimented its maturity and personal subject matter, while others called it uninspired and unbelievable. 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 for shipments of 70,000 copies. In the UK, however, the album was a commercial disappointment, selling 44,000 copies in 1998, considerably less than Minogue's previous albums.
The album represented another, and most radical change in Minogue's musical style, finding influences in drum and bass, indie rock, trip hop, folk and jazz. Impossible Princess became the first album in which Minogue had assumed full creative control, resulting in her contributing all of the lyrics that appeared on the album. The album was retitled Kylie Minogue in the UK following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in August 1997. A remastered edition of Impossible Princess with title reinstated, was issued by BMG in 2003 with a bonus disc of remixes and B-sides. In 2003, Q magazine hailed the album as a "hidden gem", praising it as a lost pop masterpiece.
In 1995, Minogue recorded the song "Where the Wild Roses Grow", a duet with Australian rock musician Nick Cave. The song's lyrics narrated a murder from the points of view of both the murderer (Cave), and his victim (Minogue). That year, she recited the lyrics to "I Should Be So Lucky" as poetry in London's Royal Albert Hall "Poetry Jam" at Cave's suggestion. 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".
The following year, Minogue began a relationship with French photographer Stéphane Sednaoui. Together they embarked on a series of trips across the United States and southern China on a mission of self-discovery. 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 such musicians as Björk, Shirley Manson and her band Garbage, Japanese pop artist Towa Tei and the band U2, all of whom would influence the musical styles on Impossible Princess.
Recording and production
Brothers in Rhythm, a house music duo consisting of Steve Anderson and Dave Seaman, were chosen as the main producers of the album. In 1995, Minogue and Brothers in Rhythm began recording rough demos at Real World studios in Bath, England. The demos consisted of Minogue's lyrical ideas over various backing tracks. The demos were later rearranged and real 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 on the Australian soap opera Neighbours. Anderson later explained that the album took a long time to record "due to the pure perfectionism of all creatively involved".
Writing and composition
Minogue began writing lyrics for Impossible Princess in 1996 during her trips with Sednaoui to the US and China. When she returned, Minogue was constantly writing down words, exploring the form and meaning of sentences. She had written lyrics before, but called them "safe, just neatly rhymed words and that's that". For Impossible Princess, she took inspiration from Sednaoui and her own experiences as a celebrity. Minogue initially had a hard time embracing her past, looking back on it as a time of pain and confused embarrassment. Confronting her past helped her improve her confidence; she said "it was like I'd climbed Mount Everest, or jumped out of a plane. So many things that I had avoided for so long were right there. That was what Nick (Cave) was saying to me. 'It'll be brilliant. It'll confront all of your past, all in one fell swoop'. And he was right."
Contains an aggressive vocal style, with alternative and Eastern musical influences.
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In 1996, Minogue collaborated with members of the alternative rock band Manic Street Preachers. She first met with Manic Street Preachers' lead singer James Dean Bradfield at his home. Bradfield later sent her a demo of "I Don't Need Anyone", which she loved, stating "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." Minogue gave Bradfield another two sets of lyrics. He took parts from each set and blended them together to create the album's lead single "Some Kind of Bliss".
The album became the first release to contain songs solely written by Minogue. Minogue composed the song "Too Far" on a grand piano; additional instruments were added during production. Minogue wrote dozens of songs with various producers 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.
Minogue had greater freedom to make Impossible Princess sound as she wanted it to. Deconstruction's A&R department had not been present for much of the recording, due to the poor health of its head, Pete Hadfield. This left Minogue with creative control over the project. At first she believed that the album contained too many musical styles, but changed her mind, stating, "I thought, partly to justify it to myself, but mainly because it's the truth, that if I had a whole album that sounded like "Some Kind of Bliss", or a whole album that sounded like "Too Far", it would be a lie, because I'm all over the place as a person".
Title and artwork
The name of the album is a reference to a book of poetry written by Billy Childish titled Poems to Break the Hearts of Impossible Princesses. The book was given to Minogue as a gift by Nick Cave, and she has said that the poems summarized where she was at that time in her life. In the United Kingdom and Europe, the album's title was changed to Kylie Minogue following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in August 1997. Minogue has since explained the name change:
|“||I've lived with that title for two years and I had already done a lot of press talking about the name, but after the tragedy of Diana occurred we had to rethink. It didn't hit me immediately, because I found it so hard to comprehend. But then I thought, I don't want to be constantly explaining or upsetting people. So we've taken the name off for now, but I'd like to keep the option for putting it back in the future. That's what the album is called; it just won't be on the cover.||”|
Minogue and Sednaoui wanted to create a special three-dimensional cover for a limited edition of Impossible Princess to represent Minogue's three-dimensional personality depicted on the album. 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 for Minogue to pose for long periods of time, which she quickly grew tired of. To achieve the background of swirling lights, Sednaoui dressed from head to toe in black, ran and jumped around Minogue with a kitchen light covered with plastic gels. Other photographs were taken at the shoot, but most remain unreleased. These pictures featured Minogue posing in front of castles and city backdrops, representing the many kingdoms of an impossible princess. The 3D cover was released in Japan in October 1997 and was accompanied by four limited edition postcards.
Impossible Princess received drastically varied reactions amongst music critics. Critical response to the album was overwhelmingly positive around the world except for Britain, where its reception was decidedly negative. 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." Allmusic's Chris True 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." In a scathing review for NME, Ben Willmott slammed the entire work and Minogue's latest musical direction, branding her "a total fraud" that was "unconvincing". Specifically, he lambasted Minogue's collaborations with James Dean Bradfield, panning "Some Kind of Bliss" as "supremely irritating".
Slant Magazine included the album on their Vital Pop: 50 Essential Pop Albums list in June 2003. Sal Cinquemani, in the magazine's review, stated the album is "littered with many anthemic trance tracks", such as the "deliriously spacey 'Say Hey'", "Chemical Brothers-style techno/rock hybrid 'Limbo'", "frenetic 'I Don't Need Anyone'", "Bjork's 'Venus As A Boy'-evoking yet still unique 'Through the Years'", and "cinematic final track 'Dreams'", that "runs the gamut of styles but manages to remain cohesive and fresh, even six years later." Furthermore, he was impressed with the album's "starkly personal and unified cord", where "Minogue fiercely declares her independence but admits to her innate vulnerability". Finally, 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."
Music Week was less than impressed, writing that "Kylie's vocals take on a stroppy edge...but not strong enough to do much". 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". Australian magazine Who compared Minogue's vocal style to a young Sinéad O'Connor, crediting her for her range in vocal styles displayed on the album. The magazine also commented that the album was a major step towards Minogue gaining credibility in the music industry.
Impossible Princess proved to be an all-round success in Australia, reaching number four on the ARIA Albums Chart and number one on the Australian Music Report chart in January 1998. 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 addition, the album spent a total of thirty-five weeks in the top fifty, making it Minogue's longest-charting album at that point. As well as being commercially successful in Australia, Impossible Princess enjoyed a positive reception from music critics and garnered several nominations at the ARIA Music Awards. In the United Kingdom, the album reached number ten on the UK Albums Chart and was certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on 1 April 1998.
"Some Kind of Bliss", the first single, became Minogue's least successful lead single release, reaching number twenty-two on the UK Singles Chart. and number twenty-seven in Australia. Written with James Dean Bradfield of the Manic Street Preachers, the song gave Minogue an edgier sound, with guitars taking the place of the drum machine beats heavily featured in her earlier efforts. 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 second single "Did It Again" featured an aggressive vocal style, with alternative and Eastern musical influences. It became a top-twenty hit for Minogue in the UK and Australia. 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.
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|
|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||
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|
- Intimate and Live Tour – Minogue's concert tour in support of the album.
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- Cinquemani, Sal (19 November 2003). "Kylie Minogue: Impossible Princess". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
- Baker and Minogue, Hodder and Stoughton, 2002. p 107.
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- Baker and Minogue, Hodder and Stoughton, 2002. p 112.
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- "That's Impossible, Princess!!". Rolling Stone. January 1998.
- Baker and Minogue, Hodder and Stoughton, 2002. pp 113–114.
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- "The Complete Kylie". Cleo Magazine. November 1997.
- Baker and Minogue, Hodder and Stoughton, 2002. p. 114.
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