#InRetrospect - Kylie Minogue - Impossible Princess
In this week’s #InRetrospect we are diving into the back catalogue of pop legend Ms Kylie Minogue and her sixth studio album; Impossible Princess. Released in October 1997, Impossible Princess was Kylie’s second and final album with Deconstruction Records. Taking partial creative control over the record and opening up to listeners in ways she previously hadn’t. The album wasn’t a smooth process for Minogue, the album was pushed back in the UK and renamed “Kylie Minogue” following the death of Princess Diana in 1997.
Impossible Princess, sonically, is a brave departure from the music that she had made her name with back in the 1980’s and early ‘90’s. Learning towards more darker dance infused sounds, the album dabbles in techno, Britpop, trip hop, electronica, drum and bass and House music. Also incorporating middle eastern and Celtic sounds, the albums central focus is Minogue’s self-discovery following trips around Asia, America and Australia with French photographer and then boyfriend, Stephane Sednaoui. Kylie said she wanted to experiment with her image and sound and teamed up again with Brothers in Rhythm to help curate the record.
While, on the surface, Impossible Princess may be just another dance-orientated effort, from the queen of the Disco. What lies beneath is a more honest, personal, raw and reflective Minogue. The album beings with the chaotic, drum and bass influenced “Too Far” in which Minogue discusses her paranoia and anger at the situations she’d found herself in. “Did It Again”, one of the singles from album, was inspired by the negative articles written by the British press about her. There are some reminders of the carefree Kylie still in bedded within the album on “Some Kind of Bliss”, which was the first single to be lifted from the album.
Impossible Princess also moves into a more electronic sound with songs like “Breathe”, which is a subtle electronica song which expresses Minogue’s ability to contemplate and feel very still in intense surroundings. Another electronica fused track which is very much a late night, early morning song; “Say Hey”, was inspired by her relationship Sednaoui. “Say Hey” cleverly highlights the need for communication, whilst not delving into conversations. It’s not the first song to discuss their relationship. “Cowboy Style” is a country inspired number which introduces their relationship. It wouldn’t be the last time Kylie Goes Country, with the 2018 inspired; Golden coming almost 21 years later.
The albums closing song, “Dreams” is a beautiful orchestral ballad which discusses her persistence of pushing boundaries and experimentation, whilst also looking for fulfilment in her personal life. The Brothers in Rhythm produced song, was originally entitled “Impossible Princess” which ultimately became the album’s title. Picking favourites on an album as perfect as Impossible Princess is difficult, but for me; “Dreams” is up there as possibly one her best ballads. It’s juxtaposition of extremely introspective lyrics capture the existential crisis Kylie found herself in at the time. Rounding out the album with a real burst of optimism; “Keep believing in dreams”.
During its initial release, Impossible Princess was the subject of scrutiny by the British public and critics who did not appreciate her move into indie and electronica, and whilst comparisons can be drawn in sound between it and Madonna’s Ray of Light. I think now, looking back, it’s safe to say that Impossible Princess deserved a better fate. Its commercial failure led Minogue to contemplate retiring from musical all together. Kylie, instead, left Deconstruction and singed with Parlophone to create its eventual follow up, the disco heavy; Light Years. Nevertheless, Impossible Princess has been included on several lists of the most underrated albums. I mean, the album is a significant departure from some of her earlier PWL penned albums. Kylie well and truly proved with the album that she was more than just the singing budgie, and that was able to capture real depth and versatility.
Celebrating its twentieth anniversary, Ben Neutze of Daily Review wrote; “The Impossible Princess Kylie may never be what Minogue is remember for, but it stands as the most intriguing chapter of her career, and the only significant glimpse of who this pop icon might be when stripped of the showgirl feathers, gold hot-pants other glorious facades”. A statement and sentiment I whole heartedly agree with. Without Impossible Princess we would never have got the Kylie of the early noughties and her revival into her Imperial Phase, and the resurgence that she would go through.