When Fiona Apple announced that she was doing a show at Bowery Ballroom and Music Hall Of Williamsburg to promote her upcoming album, I didn’t expect for both concerts to sell out in a matter of minutes. This is a singer who, although beloved, has pretty much disappeared since her last record, Extraordinary Machine, came out seven years ago. In today’s media-saturated age, she’s managed to successfully fly under the radar, only reappearing when she has something to promote. Gee, what a concept! (Does anyone wonder what Fiona Apple does all day though? Does she just sit on her Tidal money and watch soap operas in her Venice Beach bungalow? I want to know!)
I suppose it’s this air of mystery that makes Fiona Apple tickets sell out in a matter of minutes. We never know when she’ll do another live performance, so we jump at the chance to see her play those soulful piano ballads and sing in that husky voice of hers. In the last decade, she’s transformed herself from ’90s femme provocateur to a singer who doesn’t do all that much but is a critic’s darling nonetheless. Let’s face it, NO ONE can talk crap about Fiona Apple. As the years drag on, she only becomes more exalted. I’m not saying she’s not worth being revered—I’m obsessed with her too—I just think her career trajectory has been an interesting one, an exception to the rule in today’s celebrity culture.
I think the transformation of her career began when her third album, Extraordinary Machine, was shelved by her record label, Sony. They thought the songs, which were produced by Jon Brion, weren’t commercial enough so they just were like “No.” But when Apple fans got word of this grave injustice, they lent an outcry of support, begging her record label to release it as is. They refused (natch) and Apple acquiesced to their demands by re-recording the album with producer, Mike Elizondo. The finished product was a perfect blend of those Fiona Apple quirks and that pop appeal. Fans were happy. Critics were happy. Fiona Apple might’ve been happy. We appreciated the album partially because we knew it could’ve never came out. Having her music potentially get taken away from us struck a chord, I think, and caused all of us to treat her like a rare, precious diamond.
It’s fascinating to see who, in popular culture, we choose to give a pass to and place no judgement on. Fiona Apple is an exceptional singer/songwriter who has never made a bad record. She’s taken her time between albums, has never followed any musical trends, and rejected any notion of fame. She has what so many artists crave but so few have: authenticity. I think that, along with everyone mutually deciding that she was an untouchable goddess who could do no wrong, is why she’s here today. She’s one of the few vestiges from the ’90s that makes sense today.
Not to brag but I saw Fiona Apple in concert when I was only 11 years old, okay?! She was opening up for The Wallflowers (bye) and it was right after Tidal came out. She had quickly become known for being a fragile loose cannon and her live shows were a testament to that. She played with her back to the audience, her long brown mane in her eyes, and I remember the whole show feeling kind of…violent. She was angry and yet somehow also delicate which made for this crazy, captivating performance. I didn’t get a chance to buy tickets to any of her latest shows but I know she’ll wow the audience just like she did fourteen years ago. After all, she’s Fiona motherf–king Apple!