American singer-songwriter Tori Amos has written thousands of songs in her time. She has offered fans 13 studio albums and a string of live bootlegs over the 22 years that the eccentric red-head has been a solo superstar. She is one of the greatest songwriters and vocalists in history and you only have to scroll through the musicians lengthy list of singles to understand why she is regarded so favorably within the industry.
Tori’s first effort came in the shape of 1992′s Little Earthquakes, a record that produced the hits Winter, Crucify and the beautiful, China. Over the past 2 decades we have been offered a plethora of piano laced gems that have pushed the boundaries of songwriting and shaped it into one of the most powerful artforms.
Though she started out her career as a traditional piano-playing hitmaker, Tori’s music has evolved dramatically over the years. While much of her work is centred around piano-driven balladry (Little Earthquakes), her albums have successfully incorporated other genres such as Rock (American Doll Posse), Techno (From The Choirgirl Hotel), trip-hop/electronica (Abnormally Attracted To Sin) and world music (The Beekeeper).
With Tori preparing for the May release of her 14th studio album, Unrepentant Geraldines, we thought it only right to cast our attention back over the impressive repertoire of an artist that has been consistently ahead of the rest. Join us as we countdown our Top 10 favourite Tori Amos tracks…
10. Big Wheel
Big Wheel is the opening track from Tori’s 2007 studio album, American Doll Posse and it’s one of our favourite Amos’ hits of the last 10 years. It’s bouncy, its instrumentally nostalgic and rustic and we just love the singers awareness of her MILF-factor, throwing the term about like nobody’s business within the track.
This number is a bit of a hit and miss with many Tori Amos fans but it has always struck a chord with us. Ireland is an unreleased song from Tori’s 2005 The Beekeeper studio release. Aside from the instantly likeable melody of the track, the thing we love about Ireland is the layered vocal arrangement. Rather than doing the occasional ad-lib or harmony, Tori plays around heavily on the track and it turns out to be more of a duet with herself.
8. Professional Widow
Professional Widow is probably one of Tori’s most internationally recognised and successful songs. The track was originally included on her Boys For Pele record in 1996, but in a very different and much more eccentric form. It became an iconic dance smash after house music producer Armand Van Helden remixed the track. It is a phenomenal, genre-bending musical masterpiece.
7. Hey Jupiter
Also taken from 1996′s Boys For Pele studio effort and accompanied by Tori’s gentle piano playing, Hey Jupiter is one of the musicians most slow-paced and haunting hits. The song has been delivered in two forms; the original album version and the Dakota version – the latter, a reincarnation that includes a much more layered structure with bass and guitars being thrown into the mix and giving the single a much more ‘full’ sound.
6. Raspberry Swirl
Another full throttle dance hit for Tori, Raspberry Swirl gained numerous award nominations including a Grammy nod for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance in 1999. The track utilizes Tori’s persuasion for genre experimentation, offering us the usual eccentricities but with a much more grimy, rough-around-the-edges glazing, creating one of the most memorable uptempo gold nuggets within Tori’s extensive catalogue.
Amos’ debut is widely regarded as her finest work and it’s songs like China and Winter that give reason to this universal opinion. China was the third single to be pulled from the record in 1992 and is a song about distance and walls being built around peoples emotions; a strong theme with an equally powerful vocal that pulls at the heartstrings.
When you ask fans what their favorite Tori Amos song is, 9 times out of 10 Winter will be the answer you are given, and for good reason. The track was released way back in 1992, serving the singer as the fourth track from her Little Earthquakes debut. The song tells of her relationship with her Minister father and is played with the backing of the singers piano and a subtle yet empowering string section that pops up periodically throughout. The hairs on our arms rise every time we listen to this track, not just because of the overly personal and touching theme, but because, like most of the singers pennings, emotion drips heavily from each and every word sung on Winter. It is a truly inspiring song that has stood the test of time rather well over the past 20+ years.
3. Bouncing Off Clouds
While Big Wheel served American Doll Posse in the States as the records lead single, Bouncing Off Clouds took the title throughout Europe and it certainly was a good choice as a single cut from the album. The track lends itself to radio extremely well but most of all, Bouncing Off Clouds is a wonderfully creative and melodically moving song that makes you want to press play again as soon as the track ends. It’s been one of ‘those’ Tori Amos songs that we have always gone back to when we want to be reminded of what great songs sound like.
1998′s From The Choirgirl Hotel offered a handful of Tori’s most dark and eccentric singles, one of them being this haunting ballad. The song proved a very successful single for the singer and the video is certainly one the most memorable from the Tori Amos catalogue; the rope bound singer running from a captor through an English Forest. The track utlilizes Tori’s flawless vocal skills as well as her talents behind her piano as she keeps us on edge from start to finish.
1. A Sorta Fairytale
It was difficult for us to decide what to place in the number one spot. Tori’s catalogue consists of so many incredibly inspiring tracks that finding ten was a task in itself, let along deciding what should be placed in the number one spot. A Sorta Fairytale is, however, a deserving crown bearer for us. It’s not the most eccentric or experimental Tori Amos single produced – in fact, it is a traditional ballad that doesnt tend to push the same boundaries as the majority of her other hits but it carries a touching story and an almost magical sound that resonates so strongly within the hundreds of sings that Tori Amos has recorded. It’s vocally flawless and mesmerizing, it’s timeless, it’s sentimental and it is songwriting at it’s very very best.