Happy Birthday to Fiona Apple. Not only does the alternative piano-rocker turn 37 today (Sept. 17), but this week also marks 17 years since her biggest hit single “Criminal” was released, garnering Apple a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, and catapulting her debut album Tidal to triple-Platinum sales.
While “Criminal” ended up being Apple’s first (and so far, only) single to break the mainstream Top 40 in the U.S., the song’s release was not without controversy, most of which swirled around a Mark Romanek-directed music video for the song, which features a then-19-year-old Fiona Apple basically slinking around in her skivvies. The theme of the song (and video), however, is anything but seductive, as Apple is lamenting the regret of using sex as manipulation. (Think of the video as a four-and-a-half minute walk of shame.)
Apple has been known to be reclusive in recent years, stepping out of a hiatus in 2012 for a brief tour and the release of a new album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver Of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do. For many fans, however, “Criminal” remains a signature song for a young talent who, along with other songstresses like Alana Morissette, helped define the sound and vibe of the angst-ridden alt-pop of the 90’s. Enjoy!