Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course).
Aimee Mann is the poet laureate of the broken heart.
Picking 12 from her is tough. If you include her work with 'Til Tuesday, as I have, Ms.Mann is one album away from being too big for this feature. She's actually due to release a new record this year, so let's enjoy this while we can!
1. Voices Carry (from 'Til Tuesday, Voices Carry, 1985)
When I saw them in concert together, Aimee's husband Michael Penn did the "this little hobby of yours..." monologue from the video. It was great.
2. Coming Up Close (from 'Til Tuesday, Welcome Home, 1986)
This was an early indication that Mann's talents lay not in new wave but in bittersweet singer-songwriterly ruminations.
3. (Believed You Were) Lucky (from 'Til Tuesday Everything's Different Now, 1988)
Mann is definitely not the type to let someone off the hook. Though it starts as a lament, the song quickly reveals itself as a kiss-off. She's basically saying: "You messed this up for us. Why do you suck so much?"
4. Why Must I (from 'Til Tuesday Everything's Different Now, 1988)
One of the best lines she's written: "Why must I take it so hard / Other people get by with either bourbon or God."
5. I've Had It (from Whatever, 1993)
This meditative tune sounds like a typical Mann break-up song, but it's actually a simple story about a gig in New York.
6. Long Shot (from I'm With Stupid, 1995)
Mann joins the fuzzy alternative '90s, with her own spin of course. Great opening line: "You fucked it up / You should have quit."
7. Save Me (from Magnolia, 1999)
An excellent Jon Brion production that perfectly sums up the themes in Paul Thomas Anderson's film.
8. Wise Up (from Magnolia, 1999)
This is the showstopper. When the characters sang along with this song in the movie, film and music had rarely combined so well.
9. Ghost World (from Bachelor No. 2, 2000)
A novel in 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
10. Red Vines (from Bachelor No. 2, 2000)
As a candy freak, how could I pass on this one?
11. Invisible Ink (from Lost In Space, 2002)
If, after listening to an artist's newest album, you are actually kind of worried about them, then you know they really put something across with their songs.
12. Little Bombs (from The Forgotten Arm, 2005)
A shuffly little ditty that shows off Mann's deft way with words: "While perspective lines converge, rows of cars and buses merge / All the sweet green trees of Atlanta burst like little bombs".