Cornflake Girl

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"Cornflake Girl"
Single by Tori Amos
from the album Under the Pink
Released January 10, 1994 (UK)
February 14, 1994 (AUS)
May 5, 1994 (US)
Recorded May 1993
Genre Alternative rock, baroque pop
Length 5:06 (Album Version)
3:54 (Edit)
Label Atlantic, EastWest
Writer(s) Tori Amos
Producer(s) Tori Amos, Eric Rosse
Tori Amos singles chronology
"Crucify"
(1992)
"Cornflake Girl"
(1994)
"God"
(1994)
Alternative covers
UK CD single cover
Music sample

"Cornflake Girl" is a song by American singer-songwriter and musician Tori Amos. It was released as the first single from her second studio album Under the Pink. It was released on January 10, 1994 by EastWest Records in the UK and on May 5 by Atlantic Records in North America. Singer Merry Clayton provided backup singing and sang the 'man with the golden gun' bridge.

Background[edit]

The song reached #4 on the UK singles chart, and was Amos' most successful international hit at the time. In Australia, the song peaked at #19,[1] and was #35 in radio station Triple J's 1994 Hottest 100 poll, appearing on the compilation album of that year's Hottest 100.[2] The song was also ranked in Blender magazine's The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born at #433.

Inspiration and meaning[edit]

The inspiration for "Cornflake Girl" came from Alice Walker's novel Possessing the Secret of Joy, about a young African woman going through the ritual of female genital mutilation. Amos was angered by the idea that a mother could subject her daughter to such a brutal act, and the song arose as an exploration of the idea of betrayal between women. In the song two factions of women are referred to: the "raisin girls" are "multicultural" and open-minded, while the "cornflake girls" of the title are "narrowminded and full of prejudice".[3]

The reference to cornflakes and raisins comes from their distribution in a box of breakfast cereal, implying that "raisin girls" are much harder to find than "cornflake girls". Amos has spoken in interviews about being referred to glibly as "the cornflake girl" due to the song's title being applied to her, when she considers herself a "raisin girl". Moreover she specifically states in the first line of the song: "Never was a cornflake girl." (In concerts she has also said "cornflakes" vs. "raisins" was a reference to which girls had ready access to marijuana, Tori herself being bereft of the substance.) The confusion may be related to her 1987 commercial for Kellogg's Just Right,[4] made before her widespread fame. Just Right includes both raisins and cornflakes, so the song and the cereal are related either through coincidence or intent.

Atlantic released a series of cornflakes boxes with picture of Amos on them to promote this. They are now collector's items.[5]

Releases[edit]

Three commercial variations of the single were produced and sold. The United States version contains three B-sides previously made available on other singles in the United Kingdom. It was pressed in average number and contained in a digipak case. The other two singles were released as a set (but sold separately).

Disc one was extremely limited edition and released with a picture disc in a triple-gatefold digipak case. It contains cover versions of the songs "A Case of You" by Joni Mitchell, "If 6 Was 9" by Jimi Hendrix and "Strange Fruit" by Billie Holiday. The hope was to duplicate the huge success of the single for "Crucify", which also contained three cover songs and garnered large critical acclaim and commercial success (notably for the song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana). "A Case of You" was additionally made available on a promotional sampler by Atlantic Records, and on a bonus disc sold in extremely limited quantity in Australia as part of a two-disc repackaging of "Under the Pink". The other two songs have never been re-released in any format on any title, including through digital retailers. As such, this CD retains an extremely high value as a music collectible.

Disc two, produced in average number, came in a normal jewel case and contained the same tracks as the American single for Amos's song "God", excluding "Home on the Range".

US CD Single
  1. "Cornflake Girl" (Edit) – 3:54
  2. "Sister Janet" – 4:00
  3. "Daisy Dead Petals" – 3:03
  4. "Honey" – 3:47
UK Limited Edition CD Single
  1. "Cornflake Girl" – 5:05
  2. "A Case Of You" – 4:38
  3. "If 6 Was 9" – 3:59
  4. "Strange Fruit" – 4:00
UK CD 2 / Australian / German CD Single (with different artwork)
  1. "Cornflake Girl" – 5:05 (liner notes denote "Edit" by error)
  2. "Sister Janet" – 4:00
    Piano Suite
  3. "All The Girls Hate Her" – 2:23
  4. "Over It" – 2:11
UK 7" Single
  1. "Cornflake Girl"
  2. "Sister Janet"

Music video[edit]

There were two different videos for "Cornflake Girl". The UK version was directed by Big TV!, two directors from the UK. Tori said that is based on The Wizard of Oz, except that Dorothy goes to Hell instead. This version was considered slightly too "strange" for American audiences[citation needed] and a second version was made, which was co-directed by Amos herself along with Nancy Bennett. The American video features Tori driving a truck full of girls around a typical American desert.

Cover versions[edit]

The song was covered by post-hardcore band Jawbox as a hidden track on their self-titled 1996 album,[6] as well as by the band Tapping the Vein on the Tori Amos tribute album, Songs of a Goddess.[7] In 2007, after Amos had to pull out of an appearance on the Australian comedy program The Sideshow, musical comedy trio Tripod performed the song in her place.[8]

The term "cornflake girl" also appears in the lyrics of the Billy Bragg song "Body of Water" from his 1991 album Don't Try This at Home with the line "Oh, to become a pearl / In the wordy world of the cornflake girl".[9]

On March 25, 2010, British electronic musician Imogen Heap covered the song live in Australia. The performance was done per request by the winner of an online charity auction who paid about $4000 USD to win the item "VIP Experience Meet Imogen Heap + A Song Just For You".[10]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1994) Position
U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 7
U.S. Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks 12
UK Singles Chart 4
Australia ARIA Singles Chart 19
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart 41
Dutch Singles Chart 26
Canadian Singles Chart 30
German Singles Chart 73
Irish Singles Chart 9

References[edit]