Plenty of people out there are under the impression that Fiona Apple is, well, nuts -- but nothing could be further from the truth.
Take the memorable words she delivered at the 1997 MTV Music Video Awards: "This world is bullshit. Don't model yourself after what you think we think is cool. Go with yourself." Apple's declaration has been satirized by the likes of Janeane Garofalo, who built a routine around her words. ("This world is bullshit. And just because I appear in a music video where I am in my underwear and make young women feel not good enough so that they become anorexic -- and, okay, maybe because of that, I became popular more quickly than other singers who are, I don't know, maybe more talented.") But the facts behind Apple's pronouncement remain indisputable. MTV fame and fortune is bullshit! Wonderful, fabulous, sweet-smelling bullshit that untold millions would love to wallow in, maybe, but bullshit nonetheless. And Fiona noticed first!
Eccentricities like those noted in a recent Rolling Stone profile make sense, too, given a little thought. Using dog pillows in lieu of chairs, which Apple did for two years, is a way to experience how the other half (of the planet's mammals) live, and piling her clothes on tabletops rather than buying a bureau saves more trees than recycling newspapers does. Likewise, her Entertainment Weekly claim that "I was cast in the crazy role, and I was perfect for it" demonstrates a profound dedication to acting. So, too, does her EW admission that she was sitting on her "ass watching reruns of Columbo" while protesters were demonstrating outside Sony headquarters for the release of her latest CD, Extraordinary Machine. Peter Falk doesn't get nearly the respect he deserves.
Further proof of Apple's insight can be found in her lyrics and album titles, whose apparent loopiness comes across as extremely rational with a little decoding:
Lyric: "My derring-do allows me to dance the rigadoon around you / But by the time I'm close to you, I lose my desideratum" (from 1999's "To Your Love").
Translation: "Check out my cool new thesaurus."
Lyric: "I knew that to keep in touch / Would do me deep in Dutch / 'Cause it isn't the rush of remembering / It's just mush" [from 2005's "Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)"].
Translation: "Got an excellent rhyming dictionary, too."
Full name of Apple's 1999 CD: When the Pawn Hits the Conflict 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 Depth 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.
Translation: "Life is great when you're paid by the word."
See? If that's not evidence of sanity, you're, well, nuts. -- Michael Roberts
The novelty song, be it "The Monster Mash," "Fish Heads" or "Eat It," has always been a staple of the adolescent male. But sometimes the funniest songs are made by stone-faced men -- and these men should not be congratulated. When Disco D (working with a collaborator we shall call "Mr. Britney Spears") released the song "PopoZao" at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, he managed to release the worst song of 2005 and 2006 at the same time. Fatwa!
Disco D, you had a somewhat promising career! You had been written up in Urb and XXL. You had a track on the last 50 Cent album. Why, oh why, would you tie your fortunes to a man whose claim to fame is knocking up a bleached-out warbling trollop? A walking punch line? A man whose very name now means "third-rate tabloid celebrity"? Even worse, why would you choose to introduce baile funk to the masses with the Brazilian equivalent of a minstrel show? Did you not know that any song that strives to be sexy cannot use the word "titty"? Have you no shame?
Fatwa! By helping to extend this horrible man's 15 seconds, Disco D, you have shown yourself to be an enemy of music. May you spend the afterlife on the cover of hell's Us Weekly, hand-in-hand with your man. Headline: "Celebrities are just like us: they scream under the fiery lash of Mammon." It is written. --The Ayatollah of Rock
AND YOU THOUGHT THEY SUCKED
Arthur is a free New York music rag that's become something of a bible for the hipster avant-garde. Besides running a monthly column devoted to "the latest emanations from the deep underground" written by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and rock crit Byron Coley, Arthur highlights the obscure and the peculiar, such as the treasures of Southeast Asian thrift stores, the Scandinavian black metal scene and the legal sale of magic mushrooms in England. Back in the September issue, a number of respected hipsters tried to set the indie world straight on one of its favorite punching bags, the Grateful Dead. Writers came forth to postulate that Jerry and pals were experimentalists of the highest order rather than merely dope-smoking morons, and that some of their music was as freaky and psychedelic as any by the Japanese longhair bands of today.
We at Wack have looked into our crystal balls to tell you which crap-tastic artists will be re-evaluated next and why.
Unlike what you've heard, Starship was not the last, money-grubbing gasp of a once-proud '60s psychedelic band. Instead, it was a hit-making juggernaut with hidden countercultural tendencies. For one thing, the group, which eventually came to feature none of the Jefferson Airplane's original members, concocted a sound so incredibly synthesized that it seemed more inhuman than anything Kraftwerk or Ladytron could come up with. Also, the band's use of outside songwriters to fashion hits placed it in a fine lineage of jazz and orchestral musicians, making Grace Slick into Billie Idol Holiday or something.
Indie musicians share many of the same philosophies as Huey Lewis & the News. They understand that it's hip to be square, with all their thick-framed glasses, trucker hats and laptops. They also want a new drug, one that won't spill, cost too much or come in a pill. Lord knows, these burrito-subsisting artists comprehend that working for a living sucks big donkey balls. So what's not to love about Mr. Lewis? The fact that the News's bar-band sound was scrubbed so clean that a yuppie could have snorted coke off its ass doesn't matter, especially when the outfit piled up enough indie cred to last forever by backing Elvis Costello on his first LP. Also, Huey is rumored to have one of the biggest cocks in rock, and who wouldn't want to emulate that?
The white-guy perms, the flared trousers, the ladies' frame shades -- this is easy-listening, soft-rocking godhead. Not to mention the funky backbeat, the studio-wizard organ and all the swishy island lyrics you can choke on, an equation that adds up to Steely Dan sipping mai tais with the Little River Band on Michael McDonald's back porch.
Lots of people seem to hate Adam Duritz. Maybe it's because he's beautiful, maybe it's because he sings like he's got a mangina -- we don't know. But let's look at how influential his band has been. Without Counting Crap, er, Crows, there'd be no Augustana, no Dog's Eye View, no Bullfrog Tribute, and that's just the well-known groups. Also, without Duritz, no one would've bought the last five Van Morrison records, and chubby kids with dreadlocks would have to live in shame. -- Dan Strachota
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.