Tori Amos is what happens when the collected screaming psychic legions of femininity become tumescent. Also, she makes music.
Tori Amos was born plain old Myra Ellen Amos in Blank, Maryland, in 1963, to Edison Amos, a Methodist minister, and his wife, Hestia, Grecian goddess of the hearth.
She was performing Beethoven at age 5, and was accepted into the prestigious Peabody School in Boston at age 11, where she was eventually kicked out for mixing too much Beatles with her Bach, which once and for all taught her that no artist ever becomes successful by transcending the boundaries of genre or daring to innovate.
Thankfully, her memory is terrible, so the lesson didn't stick.
After touring tragically hip smoky bars and insufferably artistic dive bars up and down the East Coast, she moved to LA and formed a band, which never, ever, ever ends poorly.
Whitney Houston called, she wants her hair back.
Y Kant Tori Read's sins are recounted elsewhere on this site, so we won't dwell on their many shortcomings. It is worth noting that this marked the beginning of a six-album, fifteen year deal between Amos and Atlantic Records, proving once and for all that record companies will squeeze every last bit of creative fluid they can from you, no matter how wretched and greasy that fluid may be.
Realizing that her band stinks out loud, she disbanded the group, only to hang on to most of the performers as background acoustic noise for the rest of her albums. She then sat down and poured her soul into Little Earthquakes, a brutally personal album about her sexual assault and religious upbringing.
The world, obviously uncomfortably moist and befuddled at such a personal display of human emotion, responded with a resounding "meh", and the album debuted at #54 on the Billboard 200, sometime in the cultural wasteland that was 1991.
Her next album, Under the Pink, while still very personal in it's themes, attempted to conceal the most painful events behind the sort of lyrical subtlety you can expect from an album named Under the Pink. The album debuted at #12, proving that if you can't touch the hearts of thousands, then it is better to confuse the fuck out of millions.
Seizing this new mission statement, she recorded her next album in an Irish church, incorporating bagpipes, harpsichords, gospel choirs, and a clavichord. Boys for Pele debuted at #2, despite being openly confrontational in it's lyrical content and musically impenetrable to all but the most hardcore of clavichord enthusiasts.
Boys for Pele expanded greatly upon the religious themes from prior albums, which makes sense when you remember that it was recorded in a church in Ireland, which is the setting for 90% of all books written by women about the conflict between Christianity and uterine-centric pagan tribes. For those of you keeping track, Boys for Pele was the album where she breastfed the pig.
Her next two albums weren't a departure from her traditional musical style so much as it was a screaming leap off of a sheer cliff face. From the Choirgirl Hotel was an electronica album about the same topics every Tori Amos album covers, and To Venus and Back was a two-disk compilation album of rarities, live performances, B-sides, and everything else not good enough to have published before.
Her 6th and final album with Atlantic Records was Strange Little Girls, a concept album of pop covers wherein she reversed the gender roles, thereby defenestrating the dominant paradigm and forcing her listeners to re-evaluate the culturally imperialistic hegemony that served to elevate the patriarchy above theaeg0aihjegxlm;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
Wait, what just happened?
Tori, free from the oppressive bastards who served to bring her message to the masses, signed to Epic in 2002, and shortly thereafter released Scarlet's Walk, a concept album described as a "sonic novel" wherein her alter ego, Scarlet, wandered a post-9/11 America. Her album touched on a wide variety of popular themes, including sado-masochism, Native American relations, pornography, and homophobia. This is a departure from prior albums in that it does not directly deal with Tori Amos's vagina.
We're not saying it's a bad vagina, mind you.
Her next album, in a shocking twist, dealt with religion and female empowerment, and beekeeping. The Beekeeper deals with the politics of gender in early Christianity, weaving in references to the Gnostic Gospels in addition to contemporary political references. It is exactly as pretentious as it sounds.
American Doll Posse, released two years later, is a concept album wherein Tori's alter-egos are personofied as different individuals, each with their own song. There aren't very many jokes one can make, as this is the most blatant cry for help a sufferer of Multiple Personality Disorder has ever made.
There is a problem with concept albums. Basically, it's the artist admitting that he or she can no longer write about what they know, and now must make a bunch of shit up or risk running short on their contractual obligations. Alternatively, it's because the band has progressed to a point where they can no longer write songs like they used to and be taken seriously.
They'll never produce another "Paradise"
Tori has realized this. She wrote a few incredibly painful albums about her experiences growing up, and has progressed since then. Instead of her own history, her songs are about ideas. She writes convoluted histories for an array of alter-egos because she knows she's not 20 anymore, and can't write songs about being 20.
So instead, she re-releases an array of old material and music videos, and transitions to Universal Republic in 2008. Shortly thereafter, she releases Abnormally Attracted to Sin, her first non-concept album in a number of years. It probably dealt with feminism and being oppressed, but nobody wants to listen closely enough to find out.
After that, she released Midwinter Graces, a Christmas album. For those of you keeping track, holiday-specific releases rank somewhere between "falling down the stairs" and "converting oxygen to carbon dioxide" on the Merriwether-Briggs Standardized Scale of Difficulty. In a glorious testament to how she has managed to resist the ego-exploding power of moderate commercial success, she is quoted as having said the following about her Christmas album:
"The industry doesn't necessarily support - nor does radio support some of these kind of classic compositions being written today, and so you have to transcend what popular-culture is in the 21st century, and not be held hostage to that, and then go make a work that might not get played by anybody as far as commercial radio, but that couldn't be my focus or concern. It had to be about making a record that is influenced by my classical music training and, also, with a nod to the great Big Band era."
Instead of calling her out on the obvious egocentricity of that statement, we have just one question:
Yes, that is a necklace of leeks.
Tori, exactly the fuck when have you been held hostage by popular culture?