Way before Adele blossomed into the scene, I was already so entranced with Fiona Apple’s accounts and descriptions of pain and loss.
The trouble with purchasing compact discs, cassette tapes, compilations, playlists, etc., as I’ve learned in my job, is the lack of “control” you get over what you’re going to be listening to. Albums basically make you fork over money for 12-15 items, when you may only really want to consume two (2).
And that’s where artist branding and artist admiration come in, when it comes to driving album or concert ticket purchase. Or any other element that may breed loyalty to an album beyond sheer liking for its individual songs.
That simple fact is why I applaud albums in which I sincerely enjoy listening to more than half of the songs listed. And, I feel, you can’t say that for a lot of albums out there. First, music is deeply personal (just talking about my song choices now, makes me feel kind of psychologically naked). Second, it’s really difficult to produce a string of 12-15 songs that would all sound great or mean something to a listening individual.
In my country’s language, an apt phrase for something where all elements are valuable would be “walang patapon“, literally nothing wasted or no “rubbish/garbage”.
And, for me, the award for Album(s) with Most Number of Well-Liked Songs would be Fiona Apple’s When The Pawn and Tidal.
Yeah, yeah, it seems like an indie/hipster choice. But that’s my honest answer. I’m not going to deny the reality of my music taste – after those Fiona Apple albums, the next ranked albums might be either Offspring, Panic at the Disco or Relient K, then possibly Gym Class Heroes’ The Quilt, then Justin Bieber’s My World 2.0 and Beyonce’s 4. I’m not kidding. Yes, Fiona Apple is a few skips away from Justin Bieber. And Justin Bieber honestly beats out Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill, Lauryn Hill MTV Unplugged, Adele’s 21 or Kate Nash’s Made of Bricks — all albums where I love around half of the songs. My “award” is a numbers/percentage game anyway: I enjoy listening to 75% of Justin Bieber’s album (especially when preparing in the morning), versus 50% of Lauryn Hill’s Unplugged album. This is just a long-winded way of proving that the Fiona Apple answer isn’t just me trying to be cool — I really appreciate her music.
Let me give a run-down of why these albums are the “best”, for me.
She has the most emphatic or memorable first lines that I know. Using visceral, evocative imagery —
“I lie in an early bed, thinking late thoughts.”
“So be it I’m your crowbar, if that’s what I am so far.”
“Once my lover, now my friend,
what a cruel thing to pretend.
What a cunning way to condescend...”
Way before Adele blossomed into the scene, I was already so entranced with Fiona Apple’s accounts and descriptions of pain and loss. I love Adele, too – the way she writes and the way she sounds. Adele sounds like you or your best friend from grade school. She’s the “Everywoman” talking about life and love. Her songs are powerful because they’re intimate and relatable – almost conversational even.
Fiona Apple, on the other hand, is the crazed poetic big sister. She’s the neurotic writer girl – probably part of my fondness and fascination for Ingrid Magnussen-type women (from White Oleander). She will write about losing someone like shimmery black rose petals raining over vanilla buttercream coca-cola and cinnamon cupcakes. Dark and playful.
“Nobody sees when you are lying in your bed, and I want to
crawl in with you, but I cry instead.
I want your warm but it will only make me colder when it’s over.”
“I said ‘Honey, I don’t feel so good. Don’t feel justified.
Come on, put a little love in my void.’ He said, ‘It’s all in your head.’
I said, ‘So’s everything.” But he didn’t get it.”
“I let the beast in too soon, I don’t know how to live without my hand on his throat...”
For years, I’ve been looking for the next “Fiona Apple” actually. It’s been some sort of music-hunting challenge for me. Over the years, I’ve found a number of young female singer-songwriters whose lyrics I like, though none yet with the playfulness (both in musical movement and lyrical wit) of Fiona Apple yet. So far, I’ve liked Sara Bareilles’ Love Song and Gravity, Ingrid Michaelson’s Die Alone, Kate Nash’s Mariella and Merry Happy, Kimya Dawson’s My Rollercoaster and Laura Jansen’s Single Girls. I really love the Internet, for all of that. And music streaming and mp3 blogs. I would have never discovered this whole wealth of songwriting if not for everyone’s desire to share. So, yay, Internet!
Just a question thrown to the wind – anyone else have suggestions for “no-waste” albums? Albums where almost every song is worth liking a lot?