The Cavalier Daily
September 21, 2001

Added Sept 25, 2001

 Tour Info
 Dent Forum
 Search / Map
 Entry Page

Tori's Strange Little Girls album was reviewed in the September 21, 2001 edition of The Cavalier Daily newspaper in the U.S.. They give the album an A! Thanks to Valerie Nannery for telling me.

Tori Amos tries on 'Strange' disguises

By Megan Milks
Cavalier Daily Arts & Entertainment Editor

Tori Amos never has lacked audacity. She has no qualms attacking Christianity or sexual repression and she's been known to prance around with rats (see "God" video). But you have to give her multitudinous credit for being so bold as to undertake her latest project.

This album could have fallen apart in her lap. It could have destroyed her reputation as a musician. It could have caused disparaging backlash from peer musicians and even her hard-core fan base. But thankfully, it does none of these things.

"Strange Little Girls," Amos's latest album, is a beautiful, effective and successful reinterpretation of 12 songs, all written and performed by men.

Amos by no means is new to covers. Her 1992 "Crucify" EP offers a breathtaking version of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and her live performance of REM's "Losing My Religion" is so brilliantly heartwrenching it's almost painful to hear. But with these new covers, Amos has done some of her greatest work to date.

The premise for "Girls" is as remarkable as its variety. After her daughter was born, Amos listened, for some reason, to a lot of American alternative radio. As played on the air waves, men's impressions of women absolutely shocked her.

"It struck me how many [men] really hated women," Amos said in an interview with OOR Magazine. "The word 'b-tch' was used very often, you know what it's like. I had [my daughter] Tash in my arms and thought, 'She's growing up in a world where men think in such a way about women. I have to do something.'"

And thus Amos decided to cover, from a woman's perspective, a collection of songs written and performed by men in order to build a bridge between the two genders.

She put together a "laboratory of men," a group of her closest male friends, which came up with 12 songs that meant much to them. It was amazing to her that she heard such completely different things in these songs than they did. So she decided to cover them from the perspective of 13 (one song features twins) very different women. The results are tragic and groundbreaking.

The music feels "tragic" because these women have had no voices before. Taken from a female perspective, Eminem's "'97 Bonnie and Clyde" is no longer dangerously obnoxious. It's positively chilling. For those not familiar with Mr. Mathers' version, the song details a daughter helping her "da-da" kill her mom and then throwing her in a lake. Eminem raps the storyline over a nonchalant breakbeat and baby gurglings. Amos' version resurrects the unconscious mother from the trunk of the car, voicing her husband's words to her daughter in hushed whispers, as though she just barely is comprehending them. Her version still uses Eminem's lyrics, but an entirely new, and an entirely necessary, meaning is given to the song.

The title song, "Strange Little Girl," written by the Stranglers, also is given another dimension. Amos turns what is sexy and mysterious about the Stranglers' character into the lonely anguish of a girl trying to escape reality. This example alone shows just how different women might perceive a song's meaning. And Amos, by entering the persona of this "strange little girl" is able to bring out some previously absent elements.

Amos' "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" bears almost no resemblance to the Beatles' original. She has replaced their ironically buoyant vocals with darker, more drawn-out vocals. The song is extended from less than three minutes to a near-epic 10, with help from sound bites of her father (a reverend), former President George Bush Sr. and our very own George W., all discussing guns and Second Amendment rights.

"Girls" has quite an underbelly of violence. In "I Don't Like Mondays," Amos becomes the police officer who shot a teenage girl in 1979. The girl had opened fire on her classmates -- it's a true story turned song by the Boomtown Rats. Although the controlled anger prominent in the original is missing from this version, Amos is able to unearth the woman's retrospective regret, as well as a sense of helplessness.

Her cover of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" brings out the haunting violence of the song. She has chosen a minimalistic route with this one - the simplicity of the piano line and the subtle addition of strings play backdrop to two of Amos' voices (one low and melancholy, one high and desperate) harmonizing with each other. The effect is incredible.

Joe Jackson's "Real Men" is the last song on the album. Amos has chosen not to depart much from the original, as her and Jackson's styles are remarkably similar. It is a highly appropriate conclusion to an album lamenting men's and women's perceptions of one another. The song points a frustrated finger at society's conception of a "real man" - one who will take a drink, take up guns and take a whore.

Amos (through Jackson's words) leaves us with this message: "There's women running past you now, and you just drag your feet ... if there's war between the sexes, then there'll be no people left."

Other covers include Neil Young's "Heart of Gold," electric guitar-infused and barely recognizable; a beautiful piano-based rendition of Tom Waits's "Time;" 10cc's "I'm Not in Love," pared-down and disturbing; Slayer's "Raining Blood," drastically slowed; and an early version of the Velvet Underground's "New Age."

Luckily all the songs chosen are good. Though Amos doesn't necessarily improve upon any of them, she presents welcome new meanings from a different perspective. And the differences are so dramatic that she ends up owning each song. More importantly, she gets her point across: Men and women don't understand each other and that must change.

Liner Notes:
Artist: Tori Amos
Album: "Strange Little Girls"
Grade: A

Go Back To Articles

Go Back To ToriNews

Please give me feedback, comments, or suggestions about A Dent In The Tori Amos Net Universe. Email me (Mikewhy) at