|Studio album by Kylie Minogue|
|Released||22 October 1997
(see release history)
|Studio||Dave and Ingo's Place, DMC Studios, Mayfair Studios, Real World Studios, Roundhouse, Sarm East Studios, Sarm West Studios, Spike Studios|
|Genre||Indie pop, indie rock, trip hop, electronica|
|Kylie Minogue chronology|
|Singles from Impossible Princess|
Impossible Princess (retitled Kylie Minogue in the UK and Europe) is the sixth studio album by Australian recording artist Kylie Minogue, released on 22 October 1997. Because the A&R department of her label, Deconstruction Records, were not present throughout the majority of the album's production process, song writing and production were primarily handled by Minogue, in collaboration with producers Dave Ball, Ingo Vauk, Brothers in Rhythm, Manic Street Preachers and Rob Dougan.
Minogue started work on the album in October 1995 when she returned from her trips with French photographer and her then-boyfriend Stéphane Sednaoui. A release with a mixture of different musical genres and styles, the album features several songs employing themes of self-reflection, relationships and insecurities. The album cover was photographed by Sednaoui and the album title was derived from the book Poems to Break the Harts of Impossible Princesses (1994) by Billy Childish and from a lyric in the song "Dreams". The tracks "Some Kind of Bliss", "Did It Again", "Breathe" and "Cowboy Style" served as the album's official singles, while the other songs from the album served as promotional singles in Australia and New Zealand.
Impossible Princess received positive reviews from most critics. Australian and American critics viewed the album positively for its production and experimentation, while the British press criticized Minogue's indie image and music change from her earlier work. Peaking at number four and ten in Australia and the United Kingdom respectively, it was certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Minogue promoted the album on her Intimate and Live tour, which was positively received critically and commercially.
Background and development
Minogue left her label PWL in 1992 due to creative differences, and signed a three album deal with Deconstruction Records the following year. Her self-titled album was released through Deconstruction in September 1994, where it peaked at number three in Australia and number four in the United Kingdom. The following year, she recorded the song "Where the Wild Roses Grow", a duet with Australian rock musician Nick Cave. Cave was interested in working with Minogue since hearing her 1990 single "Better the Devil You Know", saying it contained "one of pop music's most violent and distressing lyrics".
In 1995, Minogue began a relationship with French photographer Stéphane Sednaoui and embarked a series of trips to North America and South East Asia. Minogue was encouraged by Sednaoui to write songs for the album; she had written lyrics before, but described them as "safe, just neatly rhymed words". Each morning, Minogue would present lyrics to producer Dave Seaman from the night before. Impossible Princess took nearly two years to record, 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). Minogue's creative director Steve Anderson later explained that its lengthy time was "due to the pure perfectionism of all creatively involved".
Minogue started recording rough demos in October 1995 with Brothers in Rhythm in Chippenham, where they completed the unreleased track "You're the One". Impossible Princess is Minogue's first album to incorporate live instrumentation; she had 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!'" Minogue felt it was unusual because she was familiar with the use of synthesizers. Minogue attended all music sessions from start to finish, and often turned up late and asked several questions because she wanted more information on how to produce, compose and "change and distort" songs.
The song contains an aggressive vocal style, with alternative and Eastern musical influences.
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Impossible Princess combines several musical genres including trip hop, techno, Britpop, pop music, indie rock and dance music. Orkus writer Marcel Anders felt though the album includes guitar-driven tracks, "Most tracks are still very dancefloor oriented". Music critic Michael R. Smith from the DailyVault.com noted the techno elements, while a reviewer from Classic Pop Magazine found influences of 1990s Britpop. Digital Spy critic Nick Levine said the album was "all over the dance-pop shop". Sednaoui introduced her to the work of Icelandic musician Björk, American–Scottish band Garbage, Japanese producer Towa Tei and Irish band U2, all whom influenced the work from Impossible Princess. Minogue cited The Verve, The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, The Eels and the "British music scene" as influences to the album.
"Too Far", Impossible Princess' opening track and lead promotional single, is a drum and bass track that was noted as one of "the toughest club cuts in Kylie's career" by Levine. Minogue wrote the track at a local cafe and sings about stress and anger. The second track and fourth single, "Cowboy Style", is a tribal–Celtic pop song that mixes both live instrumentation and electronic synths, and talks about the first time she met Sednaoui. "Some Kind of Bliss", the album's lead single, is her first track to work strictly with live instrumentation, focusing on instruments such as bass guitar, string arrangements and drums. Her most indie track, the lyrics focus on being happy while away from family and friends. The fourth track and second single, "Did It Again", also focuses on live instrumentation with elements of dance music, and discusses her self-consciousness and self-hatred. Both "Breathe", the album's third single, and "Say Hey" are electronic tracks that have been compared to the music of Icelandic recording artist Björk. "Breathe" deals with calmness, while "Say Hey" talks about verbal communication with Sednaoui.
The seventh track, "Drunk", is a trance song which Minogue sings about desiring Sednaoui's attention and wanting him to be satisfied. "I Don't Need Anyone" has been recognized as the album's most straightforward Motown–indie rock song. Minogue stated that the lyrical narrative was "difficult" to explain. The ninth track, "Jump", is a slow trip-hop song that has Minogue singing about self-acceptance and the future. "Limbo" is a dance song that deals with being trapped and not visiting anyone. The eleventh track, "Through the Years", was compared to the work of Björk once again, and deals with past relationships and affairs. The twelfth and final track on the album is "Dreams", a track about pushing boundaries over an orchestral and string arrangement.
Release and packaging
Deconstruction aimed to release the album in January 1997, but the release was postponed until May 1997. Deconstruction then decided to release the album in September 1997, but the release was postponed once again. Because of constant delays, Deconstruction, BMG and Mushroom released selected album tracks on various formats throughout Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. BMG released Impossible Princess on 22 October 1997 in Japan and Taiwan, followed by a 12 January 1998 release in Australia through Mushroom and 23 March 1998 in the UK. On 26 May 2003, Deconstruction and Mushroom re-released the album with a new disc with bonus tracks and remixes. Minogue told Billboard that she and Deconstruction had plans to release the album in North America, but dismissed these plans after they failed to find an American label to promote it.
The album cover, photographed by Sednaoui, is a frontal-view shot of Minogue, sitting down inside of a multi-coloured cut cone. The shoot was inspired by Japanese and French pop culture, and Sednaoui identified Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki as an inspiration. For the limited 3D cover, it required multiple static cameras to shoot Minogue and she grew tired of posing for long periods of time. Minogue was dressed in a blue 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." The album title references Poems to Break the Harts of Impossible Princesses (1994) by Billy Childish. A copy of the book was given to Minogue as a gift by Cave; she said its poems summarized where she was at that time in her life. Minogue recalled "The first time I saw the name Impossible Princess, It had me written all over it." Due to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in August 1997, the album title was changed to Kylie Minogue for the UK and the rest of Europe.
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 album's European release, Minogue went on to promote the album with concert gigs in Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands. Minogue embarked Intimate and Live, an Australian and European tour, which spanned from 2 June 1998 to 8 July 1998. Minogue started rehearsing for the tour after performing at the 1998 Sydney Mardi Gras in January. Unlike her previous tours, Intimate and Live's production was handled with a low budget.
Minogue and Baker sketched plans and stage props for the tour. The "K" symbol and the multi-coloured cone from the album's photoshoot had been featured as props for the tour. The show 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, Minogue 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", and "Limbo". The live album was released on 30 November 1998 in Australia and the DVD was released in July 2002.
Impossible Princess received positive reviews from most music critics. Billboard's Larry Flick described the album as "stunning", concluding that "it's a golden commercial opportunity for a major record company with vision and energy to release it in the United States ..." Herald Sun writer C. Adams said "Impossible Princess is her best yet, the classey, personal pop album she has always threatened." 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." Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine was impressed with the album's "starkly personal and unified cord", saying Impossible Princess "is the work of an artist willing to take risks, not a pop queen concerned with preserving her reign."
While reviewing her tenth album X (November 2007), Evan Sawdey from PopMatters commented "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." Michael R. Smith from The Daily Vault called it her "biggest step forward". Ben Willmott of NME criticized Impossible Princess' musical direction, branding Minogue a "total fraud" for introducing several different genres. Specifically, he lambasted her collaborations with Bradfield. 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". A reviewer from Samesame.com.au said "Impossible Princess remains Kylie watershed moment creatively ... The resulting LP remains Kylie at her most pure."
The album was nominated for Album of the Year at the 1998 ARIA Music Awards, her first nomination in that category, but lost to Unit by Regurgitator respectively. 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.
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. It dropped to eight, unable to reach a higher position and descended out of the chart on the week end 26 April 1998 after fourteen weeks. It stayed in for thirty-five weeks, 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, 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 stayed in the chart for four weeks. Impossible Princess is Minogue's worst selling studio album in the UK. Publications in the United Kingdom pointed out that the lack of devoted promotion with a tour was possible cause of low sales, along with Minogue's image change. 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."
Impossible Princess is considered to be an example of Minogue's constant "reinventions" and is recognized as her most personal and experimental album to date. Critics feel Impossible Princess is Minogue's biggest leap forwards in terms of lyrics, vocals and music, with True commenting "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. From the trippy cover art to the abundance of guitars and experimental vocal tracks, this was her "great leap forward." UK editor Tom Parker, who wrote the liner notes for the re-released edition, labelled it her "greatest triumph". Alan McGee from The Observer labelled her "Self-realized Kylie", but commented "Impossible Princess bombed. She was written off again". Michael Paoletta from Billboard said that it is her most misunderstood album in her career.
Impossible Princess received huge backlash and mockery for her "Indie Kylie" image and low sales. It was viewed as an inferior attempt of Ray of Light by American singer Madonna, despite Madonna's album being released months later. In retrospect, Tim Jonze from The Guardian felt her pop and disco-influenced album Light Years (2000) saved her career from Impossible Princess' backlash.
Minogue said that while Impossible Princess was strong, "I've gotten stronger and more focused since that album". As a result of the low success, Minogue left Deconstruction and BMG. Minogue told NME in 2008 that if she ever wrote another album solely by her "it'd be seen as 'Impossible Princess 2'". She did admit that she does not intend to do this because she may fear it "it would be equally critiqued." In October 2012, Minogue revealed that her most disappointing career moment was in fact the low sales of the album by commenting "look at Impossible Princess - it didn't exactly sell truckloads of album!" Minogue confirmed that she would never release an "Impossible Princess 2" in the future.
Credits adapted from the liner notes of Impossible Princess. All lyrics by Kylie Minogue except "I Don't Need Anyone" (Kylie Minogue/Nick Jones)
|3.||"Some Kind of Bliss"||
|4.||"Did It Again"||
|8.||"I Don't Need Anyone"||
|11.||"Through the Years"||
|1997 cassette version|
|3.||"Some Kind of Bliss"||
|4.||"Did It Again"||
|8.||"I Don't Need Anyone"||
|11.||"Through the Years"||
|Japanese edition bonus track|
|Special edition bonus disc|
|1.||"Love Takes Over Me"||
|2.||"Too Far" (Inner Door Mix)||
|3.||"Did It Again" (Did It Four Times Mix)||
|4.||"Breathe" (Tee's Dancehall Mix)||
|6.||"Too Far" (Junior's Riff Dub)||
|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)||
- 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.
- 2003 Re-issue — containing original 12-track album and bonus disc with 12 previously unreleased songs/mixes.
- Other Sides (1998; an extended play, featuring three unreleased Impossible Princess tracks, that was accompanied with the purchase of Impossible Princess at Australian HMV stores.)
- Live and Other Sides (1998; an extended play, featuring three unreleased Impossible Princess tracks and three live tracks, that was accompanied with the purchase of Impossible Princess at Australian HMV stores. This copy was later removed and re-shelved with Other Sides)
- Mixes (1998; a remix album that included remixes of the Impossible Princess singles.)
- Impossible Remixes (1998; a remix album that included remixes of the Impossible Princess singles.)
- Confide in Me (2002; a compilation album that featured the Impossible Princess singles and other album tracks.)
- Kylie Minogue: Artist Collection (2004; a compilation album that featured the Impossible Princess singles and other album tracks.)
- Confide in Me: The Irresistible Kylie (2007; a compilation album that featured the Impossible Princess singles and other album tracks.)
Credits for Impossible Princess adapted from liner notes.
*sales figures based on certification alone
|Japan||22 October 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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