With any good artist, there are experiments. Sometimes these experiments are great, and sometimes they suck. Tori Amos has been experimenting her whole career. This worked very much in her favor for her first few albums. However, as she progressed, she got more and more experimental, and in my opinion, she left the area she was talented in (singer-songwriter music, with a lot of amazing piano and minimal production) and moved into an area in which she is absolutely horrible (electro darkwave techno with ridiculous lyrics that are entirely indiscernible and probably mean nothing). Tori is one of my favorite musicians in history, and definitely one of the most talented human beings to ever express themselves musically. However, over time, her music just became bland, uninteresting, and had less and less substance. Her first four albums are goldmines of meaning and passion. I don’t mind crazy lyrics or screeching, because my favorite album is Boys For Pele, where she did plenty of that. But beginning with her fifth album, every single record she’s put out has been about 12 to 13 tracks of total drivel with 3 or 4 moments of complete genius thrown in.
As such, there are technically a lot more terrible Tori songs than great, but the great ones more than make up for how atrocious the bad songs are. I think the most puzzling thing about Tori’s path in music is that she began to adopt this freaky singing accent that she never had before, and now she just seems to “ooh” and “aahh” every single word in a creepy warble that is neither appealing to the ears or touching to the spirit, the way her first few albums were. I love Tori to death, but after album four, her career just began a downhill slide into absolute madness, with, as I said, moments of genius thrown in here and there. In my opinion the last good record she produced was American Doll Posse, which was itself kind of an assault on the senses and began her trend of over-producing her music to the point that it’s barely music anymore and more of a cloud of nonsense noises amongst ridiculous lyrics that cannot have any real possible meaning. I hate the songs I hate as much as I love the songs I love, and here at the ten Tori Amos songs I hate the worst. Though I could list some obvious choices that fans are known to hate, like Ireland, Cars with Guitars, or maybe the rest of the Beekeeper but for a few tracks, I’m including songs I’ve actually listened to enough to hate. For instance, I’ve listened to the song The Bekeeper twice, and I hated it both times, but that’s not enough listens to really merit me hating it. These are the songs I’ve suffered through for no clear reason, hoping to find some good in, but ultimately coming up completely flat.
“They’re Trapping Angels by the Potomac, but it’s not how you think you’d be surprised. They Liberate
My first Tori Amos album was Tales of a Librarian. It seemed like a career retrsospective would be a good place to start. I didn’t know at the time, however, that not only were the song choices pretty bad, but the remasters butchered the original versions of the songs. However she threw in a couple of new tracks that were so terrible it made this mess of a “Greatest Hits” album even worse. Angels is the first of these. The album starts strong enough with Precious Things, but then dives face first into Angels, a boring track with a lot of good intention and well-meant lyrics about the destruction of the Native American peoples land and culture. However, it’s just a boring song that goes nowhere.
9. Snow Cherries From France
“All that summer we traveled the world never leaving his own back garden. Girls I didn’t know just what it could be, oh but he let me go sailing.”
The other new track included on Tales of a Librarian was equally as dull as Angels. I think this is some kind of song about liking a boy as a kid, or something? Something about a bike, and pretending sailing around a back yard? It’s just a snooze fest, and a really atrocious way to end a badly made retrospective. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry, it’s that dull.
8. Tear In Your Hand
“All the world is, all I am, the black of the blackest ocean, and that tear in your hand, all the world is danglin’ … danglin’…danglin for me darlin.”
I just don’t get this song. I know, she mentioned Neil Gaiman for the first time, I know it’s from that holy grail of Tori albums, the great Little Earthquakes. But I just don’t get this song. Nothing happens in it. The whole acoustic guitar thing, coupled with the whole major key thing, along with the whole this-song-has-meaningful-lyrics-that-are-lost-in-the-lackluster-presentation thing, just kill this for me. It’s one of the only bad spots on her first album.
“China, all the way to New York, maybe you got lost in Mexico.”
And here’s the other one. I can’t believe this was ever released as a single. This song is overly long, goes nowhere, and is a painfully slow, monotonous ballad about silverware and traveling the world and something about feeling distant and blah blah blah. It’s like Tori tried to write a pop song, and as we know, she is not good at writing pop songs. It feels boring and inauthentic.
6. Sweet Dreams
“Land land of liberty we’re run by a constipated man. When you live in the past you refuse to see when your daughter comes home 9 months pregnant…”
She just can’t do major keys. It’s like she tried to do a strong folk-ballad and out came… this. It’s a song about political corruption, but it’s just stupid. The president is constipated, and how can he have sweet dreams when he sucks at running the country? I get it Tori, but could you maybe make this song less boring? It’s a happy diddy, so why I do feel like stabbing forks into my ears?
“Steady, as, it, comes, right, down, to, you, I’ve said it all…”
This one just gets to me. It’s like, one of her more popular songs. And I don’t understand why. It’s at this point that Tori began experimenting with, shall we say, shitty musical choices that did not suit her whatsoever. Also, the lyrics that were already cryptic just began to become outrageously stupid, to the point that I don’t even want to try and interpret them. She killed a monkey, or something. Also, the word is bliss. Not “blee-hees.” This is also when she began to sing with a freaky nonexistant accent and enunciate everything incorrectly. I’m all for creative freedom, but could the record company please have said to her, “Tori, redo these vocals so they don’t sound like a dying chicken.” It would have helped.
AND NOW, AN INTERMISSION
How to pronounce words the way Tori Amos does
A Normal Person: “Apple.”
Tori Amos: “Aye-pu-hull.”
A normal person: “Disgrace.”
Tori Amos: “Dee-hee-hee-ssss. Guh-ray-hee-sss-uh.”
A normal person: “Antidisestablishmentarianism.”
Tori Amos: “Cats… ice cream… Jesus cones…”
A normal person: “Zebra.”
Tori Amos: “Zee-hee-buh-ruh.”
A normal person: “Girl.”
Tori Amos: “Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrllllllllllllllllllll-HAH!”
A normal person: “Seventeen.”
Tori Amos: “Sey-hey-hey-hey-ven-tee-hee-heeeeeen.”
Etc. etc. etc. ad nasuem.
WE NOW RETURN TO YOUR PREVIOUSLY SCHEDULED COUNTDOWN
4. Ode To My Clothes
“Somewhere in the hills of Ireland, there’s a Prada bag. And somewhere down the lane, there’s a dog in Gucci lace.”
Ah, we’re getting into the real shitty shit now. Some songs are just pointless exercises in pointlessness. Tori got bored and wrote a song about prada bags and her favorite shoes. That’s it. No hidden meaning. No representation of materialism versus spirituality. Just… prada bags, shoes, and clothes. That’s it. Nothing else to see here.
3. Battle of Trees
“I’ve dodged bullets, and even poisoned arrows, only to be felled by the blade of a vowel.”
Beginning with The Beekeeper, every Tori album has become excruciating to listen to from beginning to end (they tend to be something like 45 tracks apiece, each with about 12 extraneous 1 minute songs about how excited she is to sing the next song, in the voice of some character or another). This one really kills the already slow and monotonous pace of Night of Hunters. It’s like… about speaking to trees, or something? And it goes on for nine fucking minutes. And she says the words “battle of trees” in there somewhere. It’s just… ugh.
2. Posse Bonus
“This is your posse bonus, this is your extra, this is your posse bonus, ’cause I like you. Because I like you, ’cause I like you, porcupine…”
This song almost get number one. This is literally a song that is informing you that the next three tracks are bonus tracks included on the album. That’s actually what this song is about. “This is your posse bonus, ’cause I like you.” It’s just a song about how you got some bonus tracks. It’s a waste of time and it hurts my soul to hear it. You may also free to include the stupid transitional songs like Devils and God, Programmable Soda, etc. in here. I do, however, enjoy Fat Slut. I don’t know why.
And finally, number one…
ANY SONG FEATURING NATASHYA HAWLEY, a.k.a. TASH AMOS, a.k.a. TORI’S DAUGHTER
INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO…
1. Cactus Practice, The Chase, Promise, Holly Ivy and Rose, Job’s Coffin, etc. etc.
“Watch me change to a grain of corn
A grain of corn?
Hear the alarm in your head
I’m the hen, black and red
And you’re in my barn
They would have won
Use your head or you’ll be dead.”
or my personal favorite pretentious lyric to hear come out of a ten year old’s mouth:
“There is a grid of disempowerment.”
Let me explain why these songs are so bad. The first reason is that they’re cheap shots. Rather than invest time and effort into composing your own song, you use the fact that your whole fan base knows you tried for years to unsuccessfully have a baby, suffered miscarriages and tremendous loss and heartache, and milk that sympathy by putting your very talented daughter (who unfortunately mimicks her mother’s horrendous new singing accent) into a song that is probably meandering and going nowhere, so that all your fans will like it and say “Wow, she’s come so FAR from those Choirgirl days!” We get it. Tori has suffered a lot. That’s why we LIKE her, guys. But you can’t defend every terrible album just by saying “Well she’s been through so much and I’m happy that she’s happy now!” I am too! That doesn’t make her shitty new music less shitty!
But I digress. Tash is actually a very talented vocalist. This clashes greatly with Tori, who is not only mostly untalented vocally at this point, but who also autotunes the shit out of her voice. Everything that escapes Tori’s lips is layered ten times, with her screechy harmonies in the background, while Tash’s voice is raspy, pure, and unedited, and quite beautiful. Tash being in the song just serves to point out how bad Tori has become. In Holly, Ivy, and Rose, Tash, who I believe was something like ten years old, sounds better than her mother. Then there’s the whole Night of Hunters album, where Tash, among other people, outshine Tori at every ocassion. The most pretentious of these songs are The Chase and Cactus Practice, which might actually be interesting songs if not for Tori’s horrible screechy cat-lady voice. Tori, just write music for Tash and let her sing it, or don’t invite her in, because she outshines you.
And in summation…
As far as I’m concerned the fiery-haired goddess is gone. She has been replaced by an insipid shell of her former self who seems to be genuinely happy in her life, but has her head so far up her own ass that she has lost all meaning. She butchers her old songs (the whole Gold Dust album was awful, despite the fact that the orchestrations were beautiful), writes horrifying new music, and puts out whole albums that are such an assault on the eardrums that they’re quite genuinely unlistenable. To this day I’ve never heard half of the tracks on Scarlet’s Walk, The Beekeeper, Abnormally Attracted To Sin, Strange Little Girls, To Venus and Back, Night of Hunters, Midwinter Graces, and especially not her new album Unrepentant Geraldines (those most pretentious album title EVER).
Tori once delved into deep spiritual worlds, pulled out the darkness and bled to death on stage for all to see, pouring out her soul and her pain and offering shelter and comfort to the listeners who needed it, me being among them. But now, her music has become a sad, sad tribute to what she used to be. She needs to just start making instrumental albums, because her talent for lyric-writing and singing have disappeared, but her fingers still press the keys of the piano perfectly. I stopped wishing for a good comeback a long time ago.
I know that’s kind of a sad note to end on, but it’s how I feel. I still love Tori’s music, it will always have a special place in my heart, but it seems that the raging inferno of talent has cooled to a still lake of boredom and monotony. Oh well, at least Kate Bush is still making good music.