(4) Tori Amos, "Silent All These Years"
I do not remember how I discovered Tori Amos in the Top 40 radio death camp Minneapolis suburbs of my youth, but I do remember buying Little Earthquakes right after it came out (and I still remember Tori posed in a wooden box on the cover). “Silent All These Years” was the first single, and it was a minor revelation to me, overstuffed with lyrics and sung by someone who wasn’t even trying to look like a pop star. I was far too young to have spent years trapped in a crappy relationship, but boy, did I relate: “Yes I know what you think of me, you never shut up. Yeah I can hear that.” The song is emotionally complex: sad, regretful, angry, and maybe a little bit triumphant. Listening to it now, I’m struck by how much of the song is about mourning—mourning a shitty relationship that left the speaker trapped and voiceless, but also provided some measure of love and comfort: “Years go by, will I still be waiting for somebody else to understand?” Finding yourself may be cause for celebration, but most people get there via pain and sadness and loss. “Silent All These Years” is about that side of the journey: “I said, sometimes I hear my voice / And it’s been here, silent all these years.”
(13) Echo & the Bunnymen, "All My Colours"
Down as it gets, and one of the last few gothy songs left in the tournament this year (though Echo's subsequent work would demonstrate that they were not a particularly gothy band), listen to the drums from the beginning setting the tone. This song—apparently articulating how the colors drain from the world (“all my colours / turn to cloud”) after a breakup (“That box you gave me/ burned nicely”)—doesn’t waver from its glum prognosis. It’s beautiful, isn’t it, even as the weirdo chorus (“Zimbo zimbo zimbo zimbo”) takes over as words are found to be insufficient to support the weight of this particular dissolution? It's not Echo's best song (turn to their superior album Ocean Rain for that), but it is probably their most consistently sad. Tough luck to draw Tori Amos in the first round, but they need to play their game. If they can keep the gloom and the tempo up they may just stay around long enough in the game to have a shot at upsetting a technically superior opponent.