At the tender age of 17 Fiona Apple made her debut in 1994 with Tidal and her breakout hit, "Criminal". With poetic lyrics sung in a deep alto and driven by Apple's passionate piano playing, most will agree that Fiona Apple is an artist. Likewise, her public image has appeared at times temperamental and tumultuously conflicted.
It was during what could arguably be considered the most successful point in her music career, Apple became subject to parody and the butt of many jokes for her "This world is bulls---" VMA acceptance speech. That speech marked a turning point in her relationship with the public. While her music continued to evolve and seemed to coincide with Apple's own emotional growth and maturity, she was never quite able to live down her images as petulant child. In fact, each subsequent release came and went relatively quietly; each increasingly obscure.
The magic of Fiona Apple's music lies in the emotion infused into each note, each belted throaty riff, and every heavy handed stroke of the piano. She also has an ability to control her breathing that any vocalist would (and should) aspire to. In the beginning of her career, Apple admitted she was so concerned with proving her intellect she became wordy with her delivery. By her 2006 release Extraordinary Machine she revealed a poetic, folksy and vaudevillian style.
Although understated, Apple's second album 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 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, received critical acclaim and ended up on many lists of the year's best in 1999, and that wordy title earned her a world record. Apple's maturity was apparent, though songs such as "Love Ridden" and "I Know" indicated she continued to find inspiration in angst and sick love.
A conflict between Apple and record label Epic/Sony BMG almost kept the 2005 album Extraordinary Machine from being released. It was the fervent cries of fans demanding for Fiona to be freed, that inspired her to not only finish the album but re-master the original tracks that had been leaked over the Internet. Even without the help of radio or a hit single, the LP reached No. 7 on US charts.
Apple has maintained a relatively low profile since the release of Extraordinary Machine and die-hard fans, while accustomed to long stretches between her albums, are certainly aching for her return. With a pop landscape littered with the likes of Danity Kane and Pussycat Dolls, the world is in dire need of substantial music from strong women.