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Impossible_Princess

Impossible Princess

Impossible Princess is the sixth album by Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue. It was released by Deconstruction Records on 23 March 1998 in the United Kingdom to mixed reviews. The album was produced by Dave Ball, Ingo Vauk, and Brothers in Rhythm. Most 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, it reached number four on the Australian albums chart, number one on the Australian Music Report chart in January 1998 and was certified platinum for sales of 70,000 copies. The album was a commercial disappointment in the UK and only sold 100,000 copies, far below Minogue's previous albums Kylie Minogue and Let's Get to It.

The album represented a change in Minogue's musical style and featured several live instruments. Impossible Princess became the first album Minogue had full creative control over, which resulted in her contributing to all of the lyrics that appeared on the album. The album was retitled Kylie Minogue at the last minute in the UK following the death of Princess Diana in August 1997. A remastered edition of Impossible Princess was issued by BMG in 2003 with a bonus disc of remixes and B-sides.

Background

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). The song was a chart and critical success which demonstrated that Minogue could be accepted outside of her established genre as a dance artist. 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, 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 U.S. 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. In 1996, Minogue collaborated with members of the alternative music band Manic Street Preachers. She first met with Manic Street Preachers' lead singer, James Dean Bradfield at his home. She brought some lyrics she had written and he strummed a Tamla Motown-type track on his guitar. 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".

Album name 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 Princess Di 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.

Critical response

The album received mixed reactions from international music critics. Billboard Magazine described it as "stunning" and concluded that "it'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". 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". Who Magazine in Australia 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 "sounds right and constitutes another step in the right direction" towards Minogue gaining credibility in the music industry, and rated the album eight out of ten stars.

In Britain, Music Week gave the album a negative assessment, writing that "Kylie's vocals take on a stroppy edge...but not strong enough to do much". Ben Willmott, in a review for NME, was less than impressed with the album and Minogue's musical direction, calling her "a total fraud" and "unconvincing". Willmott was also critical of Minogue's collaborations with James Dean Bradfield, calling Some Kind of Bliss "supremely irritating". He gave the album four out of ten stars in his review.

Chart performance and sales

Impossible Princess reached number four on the Australian 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 for sales of 70,000 copies. In the United Kingdom, the album reached number ten and was certified silver in April 1998. Impossible Princess became Minogue's fourth album to chart in Germany, where it peaked at number seventy-eight. The album reached number one in Israel, although it received limited promotion.

Singles

"Some Kind of Bliss", the first single, became Minogue's least-successful lead single release, reaching number twenty-two on the UK Singles Chart. 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 Princess Diana's funeral and had to compete against Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997", which became the fastest-selling single in the UK, selling 658,000 copies in the UK on that day alone, and over 1.5 million copies in its first week and it would remain at number one for 5 weeks.

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.

"Breathe", the third single, reached the top twenty in the UK, and was moderately successful in other parts of the world, reaching number one in Israel and the top forty in Australia. "Cowboy Style" was exclusively released as a single in Australia due to the success of Minogue's Intimate and Live concert tour.

Single Chart positions
AUS EU EST GRE HUN ISR ITA MAC NZ RUS SLA SLK SA SPA UK YUG
"Some Kind of Bliss" 27 24 15 7 3 1 17 46 20 36 22
"Did It Again" 15 57 19 50 1 29 21 14 8
"Breathe" 23 72 9 1 3 11 9 9 13 14
"Cowboy Style" 39

Track listing

# Title Songwriters Producer(s) Length
1 "Too Far" Minogue Brothers in Rhythm 4:43
2 "Cowboy Style" Minogue, Steve Anderson, Dave Seaman Brothers in Rhythm 4:44
3 "Some Kind of Bliss" Minogue, James Dean Bradfield, Sean Moore Dave Eringa, Bradfield 4:07
4 "Did It Again" Minogue, Anderson, Seaman Brothers in Rhythm 4:22
5 "Breathe" Minogue, Dave Ball, Ingo Vauk Ball, Vauk 4:38
6 "Say Hey" Minogue Brothers in Rhythm 3:37
7 "Drunk" Minogue, Anderson, Seaman Brothers in Rhythm 3:59
8 "I Don't Need Anyone" Minogue, Bradfield, Nick Jones Eringa, Bradfield 3:13
9 "Jump" Minogue, Rob Dougan Dougan 4:03
10 "Limbo" Minogue, Ball, Vauk Ball, Vauk 4:05
11 "Through the Years" Minogue, Ball, Vauk Ball, Vauk 4:20
12 "Dreams" Minogue, Anderson, Seaman Brothers in Rhythm 3:44

Bonus tracks

The bonus track appears on the Japanese edition of Impossible Princess.
# Title Songwriters Producer(s) Length
1 "Tears" Minogue, Ball, Vauk Ball, Vauk 4:27

Re-release bonus disc

The re-release of Impossible Princess includes a bonus disc of remixes and B-sides.
# Title Songwriters Producer(s)/Remixer Length
1 "Love Takes Over Me" (Album Version) Minogue, Anderson, Seaman Brothers in Rhythm 4:19
2 "Too Far" (Inner Door mix) Minogue Brothers in Rhythm, Philip Steir 6:19
3 "Did It Again" (Did It Four Times mix) Minogue, Anderson, Seaman Brothers in Rhythm, Steir 5:49
4 "Breathe" (Tee's Dancehall mix) Minogue, Ball, Vauk Ball, Vauk, Todd Terry 6:21
5 "Tears" Minogue, Ball, Vauk Ball, Vauk 4:27
6 "Too Far" (Junior's Riff dub) Minogue Brothers in Rhythm, Junior Vasquez 5:49
7 "Breathe" (Tee's Dub of Life) Minogue, Ball, Vauk Ball, Vauk, Terry 7:55
8 "Some Kind of Bliss" (Quivver mix) Minogue, Bradfield, Moore Eringa, Bradfield, John Graham 8:39
9 "Did It Again" (Razor-n-Go dub) Minogue, Anderson, Seaman Brothers in Rhythm, Razor-n-Go 9:53
10 "Breathe" (Tee's Glimmer mix) Minogue, Ball, Vauk Ball, Vauk, Terry 4:46
11 "Too Far" (North Pole mix) Minogue Brothers in Rhythm, Steir 5:54
12 "This Girl" (Demo) Minogue, Uschi Classen Classen 3:09

Personnel

The following people contributed to Impossible Princess:

  • Sean Moore – drums
  • Andy Duncan – percussion
  • Gavyn Wright – violin, orchestra lead
  • Sally Herbert – strings, string arrangements
  • Johnnie Hardy, Bogislaw Kostecki – fiddle
  • Dave Eringa, Will Malone, Gini Ball, Claire Orsler, Jocelyn Pook, Anne Stephenson – string arrangements
  • Alan Bremmer – programming, engineering, mixing
  • Richard Lowe – mix engineering, engineering
  • Sunny Lizic, Paul Wright – engineering
  • Stephane Sednaoui – photography
  • Farrow Design – art direction

Formats

These are the formats of major album releases of Impossible Princess.

Release format Country Cat. no. Release date
Australian edition Australia MUSH33069.2 January 1998
Australian cassette Australia MUSH33069.4 January 1998
Australian re-release Australia MUSH337322 September 2003
UK edition United Kingdom 74321 51727 2 March 1998
UK cassette United Kingdom 74321 51727 4 March 1998
UK re-release United Kingdom 82876511152 May 2003
Japanese edition Japan BVCP-6068 October 1997

Charts

Charts (1998) Peak
position
Israeli Albums Chart 1
Slovenia Albums Chart 2
Australian Albums Chart 4
Japan Albums Chart 5
UK Albums Chart 10
German Albums Chart 78

Sales and Certifications

Country Certification Sales
United Kingdom - BPI Silver 60,000+
Australia - ARIA Charts 2x Platinum 140,000+

See also

Notes

References

External links


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