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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
"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.
|"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|
|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|
|1||"Tears"||Minogue, Ball, Vauk||Ball, Vauk||4:27|
|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|
|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 (1998)|| Peak|
|Israeli Albums Chart||1|
|Slovenia Albums Chart||2|
|Australian Albums Chart||4|
|Japan Albums Chart||5|
|UK Albums Chart||10|
|German Albums Chart||78|
|United Kingdom - BPI||Silver||60,000+|
|Australia - ARIA Charts||2x Platinum||140,000+|