American singer, songwriter, and pianist Fiona Apple McAfee Maggart is notorious for offering sweet melodies full of truth. With critical acclaim, commercial success, and a far reaching range of raw talent, her music stands a testament of her experiences with heartbreak, healing, and human nature.
After a 7 year hiatus, Fiona Apple is back, with each pound of her heart and piano. See for yourself with the following 10 Best Fiona Apple Songs:
1. Not About Love
2. Use Me Up (Bill Withers Cover)
5. Why Try To Change Me Now (Frank Sinatra Cover)
7. Oh Well
9. I Want You (Elvis Costello Cover)
10. I Know
Born to Diane McAffee and Brandon Maggart in New York City on September 13, 1977, Apple’s legacy includes a long line of musicians and performers. Her mother sang, father was an actor, sister Amber is a cabaret singer, half brother Spencer a director and producer, and half brother Garrett a television actor. Apple’s parents separated when she was four and she was raised by her mother in the City with her sister Amber. At the tender age of eight, Apple began formal piano lessons but preferred to make her own music and went on to teach herself the keyboard. Apple manifested her dark side as a pre-adolescent and began therapy upon confessing her plan to kill herself and her sister. At the age of 12, Apple suffered a severe sexual trauma within a NYC apartment building staircase which spurned much of her later music and became a source of much of her artistry.
Fiona made massive waves in the music industry during 1994 when she forwarded a demo tape to music publicist Kathryn Schenker. Apple’s friend was a babysitter for Schenker and upon listening to the demo, which included “Never Is A Promise,” “Not One Of Those Times,” and “He Takes A Taxi.” Schenker gave the tape to Andy Slater, executive at Sony Music, who offered Apple a record deal. Apple’s debut album, entitled Tidal, was released during 1996 under the production of the music label Work. The album was a massive success, selling over 2.7 million copies and certifying platinum within the U.S. three times. The album’s third single, “Criminal,” charted at the number 17 spot on the Billboard’s Hot 100. One year after its release, Apple won a MTV Music Video Award for the racy, controversial “Criminal” video directed by Mark Romanek. During her acceptance speech, Apple declared “This world is bullsh*t, and you shouldn’t model your life on what we think is cool, and what we’re wearing and what we’re saying.” The speech was heavily criticized with The New Yorker and NYROCK declaring Apple “ridiculous,” “ungrateful,” and “unapologetic.” Apple responded with a Rolling Stone interview during 1998, declaring: “I just had something on my mind and I just said it. And that’s really the foreshadowing of my entire career and my entire life. When I have something to say, I’ll say it.”
Personal issues caused Apple to cancel over 21 stops on a tour supporting Tidal, yet Apple continued to make music out of the public spotlight. She recorded a cover of The Beatles’ “Across The Universe” and Percy Mayfield’s “Please Send Me Someone to Love” for the Pleasantville soundtrack as well as began recording tracks for her second album. The 1999 release of the one of the longest album titles ever, When The Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like A King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He’ll Win the Whole Thing ‘Fore He Enters the Ring There’s No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depths Is The Greatest of Heights and if You Know Where You Stand, Then you Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won’t Matter, ‘Cuz You’ll Know That You’re Right.” Produced by Epic Records, When The Pawn... earned Apple recognition in the 2001 Guinness Book of Records for the title’s length which was later claimed in 2007 by a Soulmax album. The album’s title was based on a poem penned by Apple after reading negative letters published in Spin Magazine. Under the production of Apple’s longtime friend, Jon Brion, her second album featured more experimental sounds and highly emotive lyrics. Rolling Stone and The New York Times celebrated the album with high praise though the album was not as successful as her debut. The album’s first single “Fast As You Can” climbed to the top 20 of Billboard modern rock charts and secured Apple’s international fame by reaching the Top 40 in the U.K. Additionally, the album received a nod from Spin Magazine as the 106th greatest album of the past 25 years and by Slant Magazine as the 79th best album of the 1990s.
Following the release of her second album, Apple began a promotional tour with live venues. Before a crowd of 3,000 at the New York city Roseland Ballroom, Apple suffered “music’s most infamous on-stage meltdown” per reports from AOL resulting from sound quality issues which left her in tears. The tour ended during 2000 and Apple went on hiatus upon moving to Los Angeles. There she considered retiring and collaborated with music legend Johnny Cash for the Simon and Garfunkel song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” on Cash’s American IV: The Man Comes Around album. The tune earned Apple a nomination for a Best Country Collaboration with Vocals Grammy Award. It also offered Apple the opportunity to again record with Cash for the cover of Cat Steven’s “Father and Son” later released on Cash’s 2003 album Unearthed.
After a two year hiatus, Apple reignited her career with the release of Extraordinary Machine upon weighty weekly pleas from her friend and producer Jon Brion. Apple conceded and Brion approached Epic Records to facilitate the deal. The recording label agreed and Apple began completing tracks within the Ocean way studios in Nashville, Tennessee during the Spring of 2002 . The album was completed at the Paramour Mansion in Los Angeles and presented to Sony executives during May 2003. Songs from the album were leaked online via MP3 during 2004 and 2005. The tracks spread to U.S. and international radio stations, P2P networks, and eventually the entire album was released online due to a fan led campaign which included mailing Sony foam apples in support of the album’s release. Despite a massive response from fans, Apple was not satisfied with the initial results of the initial recording of When The Pawn...and reworked much of the album with the help from co-producer and bassist Mike Elizondo, Brian Kehew, as well as Brion.
Extraordinary Machine was officially released during October 2005 and was another instant success for Apple. It landed at number seven just after its release, earned a nomination for the Best Pop Vocal Grammy Award, and was certified gold within the U.S. Apple promoted the album following its release later that year and continued with side projects. During the summer of 2006, Apple offered an appearance on comedian Zach Galifianakis’ “Come Over And Get It (Up In Dem Guts) in return for his appearance in Apple’s music video for the track “Not About Love.” Apple also contributed to the soundtrack of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, covering “Sally’s Song” for the 2006 special edition of the film. She also performed for an Elvis Costello tribute for VH1’s Decades Rock Live, covering Costello’s song “I Want You.”
During 2007, Apple began touring with Nickel Creek along the East Coast of the U.S. and completed a number of covers. She recorded the duet “Still I” with Christopher Deluy. One year later, Apple covered two tracks, “Why Try To Change Me Now” and “I Walk A Little Faster” for the album The Best Is Yet To Come - The Songs of Cy Coleman. Apple also offered her skills for the charity concert: “Love and Haiti Too: A Music Benefit” to raise funds following the January 2012 Haitian earthquake in a duet with Jon Brion. She also covered “(S)he’s Funny That Way” a song frequently associated with Billie Holiday, with lyrics by Richard Whiting and composed by Neil Moret. During 2010, Apple completed “So Sleepy,” a song written by children associated with the charity organization 826LA and produced by Jon Brion which later appeared on a compilation album Chickens In Love. Apple also collaborated with Margaret Cho on the album Cho Album released in August 2010.
During the spring of 2011, hints of Apple releasing an upcoming album were confirmed by musician Michelle Branch and drummer Charley Drayton. One year later, Apple stated that the release of the album had been held back “until her label found a new president and that she didn’t want her work to be mishandled amid corporate disarray.” Epic confirmed Apple’s fourth album would be released later that year and during a performance at the South by Southwest Festival, Apple confirmed the album would be released that year. On June 19, 2012, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do. The worldwide reception for the album was warm, with high praise and nods from American Songwriter who quipped The Idler Wheel... “isn’t always pretty, but it pulses with life, brutal and true” much like “an open wound.” Pitchfork declared the album “the most distilled Fiona Apple Yet.”
Though seven years had passed since Apple had released an album, she was back with her customary raw turbulence, emotive lyrics, amazing style, and sheer genius. Appearances on NPR, the BBC, and television on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon performing “Anything We Want” with the Roots and “Let Me Roll It” with Jimmy Fallon for Paul McCartney’s 70th birthday, and a North American tour have promoted The Idler Wheel and has steadily garnered attention.