"Lovesong" and more...
Though the Cure classic has been covered by everyone from 311 to Adele, Amos’ hypnotic rendition perfectly encapsulates her unparalleled ability to make a song her own: when she vocalizes the desperate devotion of the chorus’ promise, there isn’t a fraction of the doubt she isn’t doing so with someone in clear mind. She isn’t just singing the words—she’s living them.
“Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)”
Amos’ cover of the Jim Croce classic during a 2005 Yahoo! Music session earned substantial viral attention, thanks in part to its inclusion in Entertainment Weekly’s “Download This” spotlight. Though it bears the all hallmarks of a traditional Tori cover, it stands out for its particularly passionate final chorus, during which Tori channels her grief for her recently deceased brother, her desire to “call just to tell him I’m fine” both appropriating and deepening Mr. Croce’s solemn words.
It took her 20 years to tackle the Depeche Mode classic, but Amos’ fiery, heel-stamping cover fits so seamlessly into her repertoire that she allows the chorus of “Body and Soul,” her own rock anthem of spiritual and physical ecstasy, melt right into it. The result: the ballsy playfulness of early 90’s Tori meets the ballsy surety of an artist and woman in her prime.
This one-off performance of Neil Young’s devastating contribution to the 1993 film Philadelphia quickly earned its place as one of Amos’ most treasured covers. Tori’s rendition is slow, steady sigh that somehow even further strips bare Young’s already fragile original. Though Amos manages to muster a faint glimmer of hope in her delivery (“And when I see the light/I know I’ll be all right”), her instinct towards restraint is the right one, conveying a nuanced understanding of and respect for the source material.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit”
Arguably, it was this divisive cover of Nirvana’s genre-defining smash that sparked the dialogue surrounding Tori Amos in 1992 and expedited the “love her or hate her” branding. While haters find easy evidence in Amos’ “pussifying” of grunge deity Kurt Cobain’s signature tune, attentive listeners will find her translation of those iconic chords passionately faithful, and her slowed, somber articulation of its lyrics suggestive that Tori had tapped into Cobain’s great pain before most were ready to listen.