Impossible Princess

Kylie Minogue

Deconstruction Records, 1997

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


Okay, I know what you’re probably thinking. How can any Kylie Minogue album possibly be included in a list of the 100 best pop albums of all time. Well, nobody was as surprised as I when I gave this one a spin for the first time, but not only is it Kylie's best album, it is a very strong disc.

The trippy album cover artwork alone (compliments of Stéphane Sednaoui) makes this worth investigating, but listening to the music reveals a pop artist pushing herself into the techno realm. 1997 was the year when pop superstars like Madonna began pursuing this direction, as evidenced in her release Ray Of Light, but where that was a Grammy-winning smash Impossible Princess became Kylie’s worst-selling album ever, even though both sounded similar.

Which begs the question: Was it just coincidence that both albums were released at virtually the same time? Or did one artist copy the other hoping that the rest of the world wouldn’t find out? Judging by Madonna’s admission that she is often “a sponge who has an innate sense of what the next trend should be,” it makes me feel as if she stole Kylie’s idea and ran with it. Conspiracy theories aside, you still have to wonder what compelled Madonna to wear none other than a Kylie Minogue T-shirt onstage (in Britain, no less) a couple of years later. Talk about rubbing it in poor Kylie’s face. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Ray Of Light, but Impossible Princess is just as good and certainly deserved a better fate. Aided by a dizzying array of producers, Kylie took a grassroots approach to the overall creation of the album. Pen and paper in hand, she literally turned a three-week trek across the United States into a twelve-song creative masterpiece. Charting singles “Did It Again” and “Breathe” are most notable for the videos that went along with them and are fair representations of the album at large (which should be the purpose of singles), though there are many more undiscovered gems here.

“Cowboy Style” is everything a country-tinged song like Madonna’s “Don’t Tell Me” should have been. It’s the one track that left me wanting more of the same - extended remixes, at the very least. “Say Hey” and “Drunk” are both intoxicating “atmosphere” pieces that are at the very heart of the album and “Dreams” is a wonderful, meaty ballad to close things out. In addition, “Some Kind Of Bliss” is a surprisingly strong and straightforward rock song that was much maligned by the British press when it was first released, which called it irritating.

What I found irritating is the fact that Kylie sings in pretty much the same key on every song. This type of music is so complex that it almost demands a singer with the widest possible range to perform it. So on that front, Kylie misses the mark by being so limited as a vocalist. Had she experimented with her voice as much as she did with the music itself, the album may have been more successful than it was.

But Kylie’s willingness to take such a huge risk with this material proves that she is ahead of her other pop contemporaries. Her adventurous spirit really shines through on Impossible Princess and is what is so remarkable about the album. A side note: the album was temporarily re-titled and postponed after Princess Diana’s untimely death, but eventually released as is.

Though it had many strikes against it from the very start, Impossible Princess was a giant step forward for Kylie. She may have overshot her mark when it came to her core audience, and since this one she has returned to the predictable, safe dance music that she is known for. For those who only know “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head,” pick this up and see what happens when an artist makes art instead of just commercial pop.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A-



© 2006 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Deconstruction Records, and is used for informational purposes only.