Voices Carry (song)
|Single by 'Til Tuesday|
|from the album Voices Carry|
|B-side||"Are You Serious?"|
|Recorded||RPM Sound Studios, New York 1985|
|Genre||Rock, new wave|
|Writer(s)||Aimee Mann, Robert Holmes, Joey Pesce, Michael Hausman|
|'Til Tuesday singles chronology|
"Voices Carry" is a song written and performed by American band 'Til Tuesday. It was produced by Mike Thorne for the group's debut album Voices Carry, released in 1985. The song's lyrics, written by Aimee Mann, are about past sour relationships and were originally written and sung as if to a woman, but changed due to Epic Records' pressure. The song was inspired by Mann's breakup with 'Til Tuesday drummer, Michael Hausman.
The single achieved strong American radio airplay and MTV rotation in the summer of that year.
Directed by D.J. Webster, the accompanying music video received wide exposure on MTV, positive reactions from critics, was nominated for numerous awards, and it is attributed to be the reason behind the song's success. It was released in North America in March 1985 to positive reviews from music critics. "Voices Carry" became the band's highest charting single and their only top ten hit in the U.S., peaking at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100. Internationally it reached the top twenty in Canada and Australia.
Recording and production
A 26-second sample from "Voices Carry", featuring Mann singing the last part of the song while the rest of the band provides the background vocals.
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"Voices Carry" was recorded in 1985 at RPM Sound Studios in New York. The song is about past sour relationships, and was originally written and sung by Aimee Mann as to a woman. 'Til Tuesday rehearsed that format in Boston the previous summer, but Epic was unhappy with the lyrics; they thought that it was a "very powerful, commercial song", and wanted to remove the lesbian components to appeal to the mainstream market.
Despite the pressure to replace the lyrics, producer Mike Thorne thought that "it didn't matter any to the impact of the song itself", and the band eventually changed the gender of the love interest. At the beginning, 'Til Tuesday and Thorne were undecided between "Love in a Vacuum" and "Looking over My Shoulder" to be released as the first single, but ultimately Epic's A&R executive Dick Wingate chose "Voices Carry", because it "define[d] precisely the band and its style". According to Thorne, his contract stated that he had the right to be the first to remix the song for the 7" single release. He was then told that it had been remixed by Bob Clearmountain; about this he commented, "not what the rules were [...] but it sounded pretty good, as well it might coming from one of the finest American engineer/producers".
"Voices Carry" received generally positive reviews from pop music critics. In a review of the band's second album Welcome Home, David Wild from Rolling Stone magazine said that their "debut [album], Voices Carry, had its icy charms", calling the song "wonderfully eerie". Allmusic's Stewart Mason said that "'Voices Carry' is one of the most distinctive radio singles of its era", he also praised the production saying that it "does wonders both for Mann's breathy voice and the [...] chorus, which brilliantly releases the tension that builds throughout the stark, paranoid verses". Joe Viglione also from Allmusic, in a review of their debut album said that the song is "captivating", and praised its production saying that Mike Thorne did an "excellent work". Phillip Mottaz of The Tripwire believed that the song "has everything that makes a song fun and effective", and felt that its a "testament to honest production and emotional quality".
Dennis Hunt of the Los Angeles Times said that Mann have "a distinct naturalism [that] governs her vocals" and that "the frailty, roughness and lack of great range in her voice [...] [is] genuinely appealing", adding that if she were a "polished singer, songs like 'Voices Carry' [...] wouldn't be half as appealing"; while Robert Hilburn of the same newspaper said that Mann "exhibits winning vocal authority on record", adding that the "only thing she needs is another Dave Stewart to give her more tailored and absorbing arrangements and material". Steve Peake of About.com placed "Voices Carry" at number five of his list of the "Top 10 Songs of 1985", calling it a "nearly flawless pop single". Lynn Van Matre of the Chicago Tribune said that "much of the group's material falls into the dance rock category", adding that the "bluesy title cut, [...] 'Voices Carry', was particularly impressive". Brent Mann, in his book 99 Red Balloons... called it "the quintessential New Wave song", and felt that "Mann's cool, dark lead vocals were right in step with the style".
"Voices Carry" was released in the United States in March 1985. It first appeared on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart at number four, the next week it debuted at number eighty-one on the Billboard Hot 100. It reached a peak position of number eight in its fourteenth week, and stayed twenty-one weeks on the chart, becoming the band's first and only top ten single in the United States. The success of the single helped their debut album reach the top twenty on the Billboard 200 chart, and pushed it past the gold mark.
In Canada, the single entered the RPM singles chart on June 1985 at number ninety-four, peaked at number fifteen for two weeks in August 1985, stayed twenty-two weeks in total, and was certified gold by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA). In Australia, "Voices Carry" entered the Kent Music Report on June 17, 1985; it peaked at number fifteen, and spent fourteen weeks on the chart.
The music video for "Voices Carry" was directed by D.J. Webster, and filmed at Dorchester's Strand Theater, in Boston. The clip incorporates dialogue and acting, and resembles a mini-movie. The plot centers around the band's lead singer, Aimee Mann, who appears as a musician with a violent boyfriend, played by actor Cully Holland. He mistreats her for playing in a rock band, and demands that she change her look to fit in his upper-class lifestyle. The video uses spoken dialogue in between to interrupt the musical parts, including Mann's boyfriend demanding: "Why can't you for once do something for me?". At the end, the couple attend a concert at Carnegie Hall. The boyfriend notices part of Mann's rattail sticking out from under her cap and stares at her angrily. At her breaking point, Mann lashes out at him, jumping up from her seat in the audience and yelling the lyrics—"He said, shut up! He said, shut up! Oh God, can't you keep it down?..."—as she removes her cap to reveal her spiky, rat-tailed hair.
The success of the single was largely attributed to the video, which received wide exposure on MTV, along with positive reactions from critics and nominations to numerous awards. Keith Thomas of Knight Ridder newspapers called the video "a clever and stunning effort". Praising the dialogue and acting he said that it "looks better than most feature films", adding that "everything about the clip is grand". Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times also praised Mann's acting, saying that she appears "marvelously charismatic" in it, while Dennis Hunt from the same newspaper said that it was "cleverly conceived". Debbie del Condo of the Orlando Sentinel called it the "Most Memorable Video of 1985", and added that she will "keep waiting for their next video". In his book Totally awesome 80s, author Matthew Rettenmund called it a "great story video". Author Brent Mann in his book 99 Red Balloons..., called the video "pure New Wave" and added that it was "perfect for MTV and VH1 consumption".
At the 1985 MTV Video Music Awards, the band won the award for Best New Artist in a video. The same year, at the Fourth Annual American Video Awards, Mann was named the Best Female Performer in a video for "Voices Carry". The video was placed number forty on Slant Magazine's 2003 list of the "100 Greatest Music Videos", and was listed on Pitchfork Media's "100 Awesome Music Videos", in 2006.
The 2012 music video for "Labrador", the second single from her album Charmer, features a satirical shot-for-shot remake of "Voices Carry" video within the framing device of Mann having been forced to shoot the video after inadvertently signing complete control of the video over to director Tom Scharpling. The video features Jon Wurster as the Wall Street boyfriend, Jon Hamm as Scharpling, and Ted Leo in a cameo.
"Voices Carry" has been covered by numerous artists both in albums and live performances. American band Gang Green made a hardcore punk version of the song for their 1986 debut album Another Wasted Night. Noise pop band Morella's Forest covered the song for their debut EP Hang Out, and was later included on the 2002 tribute album 80s Tribute, Vol. 1. Singing group Toxic Audio made a cappella cover for their 2005 album Word of Mouth. American singer Vitamin C made a pop cover of the song for the soundtrack of Disney's 2005 film Sky High. The song along with others hits of the 1980s were covered by American singer Tiffany for her 2007 album I Think We're Alone Now: '80s Hits and More. American musical duo MGMT included the song as part of the setlist for their performance at the 2009 Bonnaroo Music Festival. Covers by other artists in live performances includes versions by American Idol's winner Carrie Underwood, and rock musician Courtney Love. While not a strict cover, pop punk band Fifteen incorporated the chorus into their anti-abuse song "Survivor," on the album of the same name.
Credits and personnel
- Aimee Mann – bass guitar, lead vocals, lyrics
- Michael Hausman – drums, percussion
- Robert Holmes – background vocals, guitar
- Joey Pesce – background vocals, synthesizer
- Mike Thorne – producer
- Dick Wingate – executive producer
- Bob Clearmountain – audio mixing
- Britain Hill – photography
Formats and track listing
These are the formats and track listings of major single releases of "Voices Carry":
- Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. p. 603. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
- Thorne, Mike (March 1999). "The making of 'Til Tuesday's Voices Carry". The Stereo Society. Archived from the original on 2008-06-07. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
- Assael, Shaun (1985-11-21). "Aimee Mann talks quietly about success". The Ledger (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2009-08-04.
- Wild, David (1986-11-06). "'Til Tuesday: Voices Carry: Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. RealNetworks. Retrieved 2009-08-20.
- Mason, Stewart. "Song Review: Voices Carry". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-08-20.
- Viglione, Joe. "Album Review: Voices Carry". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
- Mottaz, Phillip (2008-11-17). "Greatest Song At This Moment – 'Til Tuesday's "Voices Carry"". The Tripwire. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
- Hunt, Dennis (1985-06-23). "Faces: Aimee Mann's Voice, Lyrics Carry Her". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- Hilburn, Robert (1985-05-15). "Pop Music Disc Derby: Riding the Next 'Wave' Order of Finishwin". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- Peake, Steve. "Top 10 Songs of 1985". About.com. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2009-08-20.
- Van Matre, Lynn (1985-04-08). "Hall & Oates Entertainingly Funky". Chicago Tribune (Tribune Company). Retrieved 2009-08-20.
- Mann, 2003. p. 47.
- "Hot 100: Week of April 13, 1985 – Voices Carry". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. 1985-04-13. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
- "Hot 100: Week of July 13, 1985 – Voices Carry". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. 1985-07-13. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
- "Artist Chart History – 'Til Tuesday". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "'Til Tuesday> Biography". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
- "Top Singles – Volume 42, No. 12, June 01, 1985". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. 1985-06-01. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
- "Top Singles – Volume 42, No. 23, August 17, 1985". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. 1985-08-17. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
- "Top Singles – Volume 43, No. 7, October 26, 1985". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. 1985-10-26. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
- "Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) – 'Til Tuesday". Canadian Recording Industry Association. 1985-09-30. Retrieved 2009-10-15.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. NOTE: Used for singles and albums charting from 1970 until ARIA created their own charts in mid-1988.
- Gonzalez, Ed; Cinquemani, Sal (2003). "100 Greatest Music Videos". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2009-08-05.
- Morse, Steve (1985-11-28). "'Til Tuesday Pushing the Fast Forward Button". The Boston Globe (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- "Other Works – Cully Holland". IMDb. Amazon.com. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
- Thomas, Keith (1985-06-04). "What Spokane is Viewing". The Spokesman-Review (Cowles Publishing Company). Retrieved 2009-08-12.
- Blauner, Peter (1985-07-15). "The Story of Mann". New York (New York Media, LLC) 18 (27): 28. ISSN 0028-7369.
- Galante, Debbie (2001-07-28). "Twenty Years of MTV". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 113 (30): 70. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Del Condo, Debbie (1985-07-07). "Six Months is Plenty Long Enough to Issue 1985's Videos their Due". Orlando Sentinel (Tribune Company). Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- Rettenmund, 1996. p. 159.
- "MTV Video Music Awards – 1985". MTV. MTV Networks. 1985-09-13. Retrieved 2009-08-05.
- Berra, Yegi (1985-11-22). "'The Boss' Wins Awards". Star-Banner (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2009-08-09.
- Pitchfork Staff (2006-06-20). "100 Awesome Music Videos". Pitchfork Media. Pitchfork Media, Inc. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- Aimee Mann remakes "Voices Carry" with help from Ted Leo, Jon Hamm, Tom Scharpling, and Jon Wurster - AV Club
- Jeffries, Vincent. "Album Review: Another Wasted Night". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-08-18.
- "Album Overview: Hang Out (EP)". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-08-18.
- Cramer, Stephen. "Album Review: 80s Tribute, Vol. 1". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-08-18.
- Ruhlmann, William. "Album Review: Word of Mouth". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-08-18.
- Phares, Heather. "Album Review: Sky High (Original Soundtrack)". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
- "Album Overview: I Think Were Alone Now: 80s Hits And More". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-08-18.
- Goodman, William (2009-06-14). "MGMT's Crowning Moment: Bonnaroo Headliners". Spin. Spin Media LLC. Retrieved 2009-08-18.
- "Top Singles – Volume 43, No. 5, October 12, 1985". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. 1985-10-12. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
- "Voices Carry > Charts and Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
- Mann, Brent (2003). 99 Red Balloons...and 100 Other All-Time Great One-Hit Wonders. Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-2516-9.
- Rettenmund, Matthew (1996). Totally awesome 80s: a lexicon of the music, videos, movies, TV shows, stars, and trends of that decadent decade. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-14436-9.