Song du semaine: Fiona Apple, "Fast As You Can"

With all the time I’ve been spending in Starbucks and Panera recently, I’ve been subconsciously exploring the depths of the adult-contemporary-alternative-sort of-jazz genre. Panera actually plays a lot of really bad self-indulgent post-bop that makes you want to go back in time and strangle the guy who invented the saxophone. Starbucks plays a mix of Sinatra, Norah Jones, mellowish alt-rock, etc. I’m starting to hear the same songs over and over again, but it’s generally inoffensive stuff. Both are OK for background music — the Panera music is awful but forces me to concentrate on the work I’m doing, which is the idea.

With both styles of music, small doses are good. I went through a brief jazz phase, but it didn’t take, apart for a couple of excellent albums by various Marsalises. The Starbucks blend, so popular it has its own XM channel, is fine but occasionally needs a tempo shift and some quirkiness.

Which brings us to this wonderfully quirky, time-shifting effort from Fiona Apple. She’s often stuck doing meandering piano-and-vibe songs that don’t stick in your head, as if some record exec or producer got the word “chanteuse” stuck in his head and forced her to record whatever he thinks a “chanteuse” would record. Not here. This song is wry and witty, propelled by the great Matt Chamberlain on drums.

Wikipedia goes a little overboard in praising the video, directed by then-boyfriend Paul Thomas Anderson. Some of the camera angles aren’t particularly flattering, and the obsession with keeping her face on-screen all the time smacks of a video directed by … well, her current boyfriend.

But it’s not bad, and it sells the song as it should. Embedding is disabled, so follow the link and enjoy.

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