Welcome to England

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"Welcome to England"
Single by Tori Amos
from the album Abnormally Attracted to Sin
Released April 14, 2009
Format Digital download
Recorded August 2007
Genre Alternative rock, Baroque pop, Electronic music
Length 4:08
Label Universal Republic
Writer(s) Tori Amos
Producer(s) Tori Amos
Tori Amos singles chronology
"Almost Rosey"
(2009)
"Welcome to England"
(2009)
"Maybe California" (2009)

"Welcome to England" is a song by American singer and songwriter Tori Amos, appearing on the album Abnormally Attracted to Sin (2009). The track was released as the album's lead single April 14, 2009 by Universal Republic, the artist's first release on the label. The single was a digital release only, though a promotional CD single was released in Europe.

Musically, the song is a mid-tempo alternative rock piece with influences of both electronic music and baroque pop. The song's lyrics are narrated by a woman who has left everything, including her family friends, in order her lover overseas and live with him. The themes are heavily autobiographical. The song serves as a parallel to Amos' own experience - she herself moved to England for her husband's sake, where they have raised their daughter and recorded all of her albums since the late 1990s.

Background and release[edit]

"You come to realize that his world is becoming your world, and yet maybe you've taken on so much of his [...] It isn't your world, and you have to retain yourself in it. And she just lost that, somehow. She lost parts of herself [..] There was something, or maybe many things, that you didn't really want to leave behind. That you do begin to miss." [1]

-Tori Amos on the background of the song.

The album Abnormally Attracted to Sin was from the start intended to be an audio-visual project, with video clips or "visualettes" accompanying the music, or in some cases also directly inspiring the music that followed.[2] Fashion photographer and director Christian Lamb was originally hired in 2007 by Amos to shoot footage of the American Doll Posse World Tour for an intended DVD release.[3] A dispute with the record label over financing the release, however, led to Amos shelfing the DVD project and leaving Epic Records, as her three-album contract in any case was fulfilled. A chance encounter with former industry mentor Doug Morris led Amos to signing with Universal.

Welcome to England was released April 14, 2009 digitally, both as a single track and as an EP that also contained the new tracks "Maybe California" and "Fire To Your Plan".[4]

On the musical direction on the track, Amos commented: "It's time for beautiful melodies [...] The sounds were created around the feelings, and working around the song structure; the structures were demanding certain arrangements. It came out sexy and modern."[5]

Asked about the lyrics in an interview, Amos hesitated, but explained: "I don't usually like to answer those questions, I tell everyone it's just a story and I happen to know the people in the story. But yeah, that one is kind of obvious. It is [a love song]. But it's also more."[5] She explained that the song was meant "to be positive about a man, and yet ambivalent about a place", and added: "I really wanted the story to be about a woman who left her life, and her family, and her job, to follow her love – to follow her heart."[1]

The song was first performed live on television on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, with Amos playing two pianos backed by a band. In addition, she performed the single in an intimate live show called "Acoustically Attracted to Sin" for press and fans, also featuring other tracks from the new album as well older hits. The song was a regular performance during the subsequent Sinful Attraction Tour in support of the album. It has been performed in concert both with a full band and on solo pianos.

Music video[edit]

Tori Amos appearing in the "visualette"/music video

Each track on Abnormally Attracted to Sin was accompanied by a documentary-style video clip referred to by Amos as "visualettes", shot by fashion photographer and director Christian Lamb during Amos' 2007 world tour, originally intended for use in a live concert DVD that never came to fruition. Amos, however, found the footage to be inspiring, and subsequently used it for the creation and promotion of her 2009 album.

The music video accompanying Welcome to England features Amos as two characters; herself and Isabel, one of Amos' alter ego-esque personalities previously featured in her studio album, American Doll Posse. The documentary-style video features the artist walking around iconic landmarks in London, including Buckingham Palace and the London Eye. Throughout the video, Amos is dressed in haute couture, and is observed by the photographer in a seeming state of disaffection or alienation from the scenery.

The video was received generally favourable reviews from critics, with most critics praising its retro style, fashion and sparse symbolism, though noting the lackluster budget and narrative. Pitchfork Media commented on the fashion imagery and style in the video: "Grainy film footage of London serves as the backdrop for this latest vid from Tori Amos, whose costume changes take her from Lady Guinevere to Lady Liberty in a few quick shots."[6] "Pink Is The New Blog" gave the music video a positive review, saying: "The video features Tori lookin’ fierce as hell in various locales in England. I think this video is our first indication at what the visualettes that will accompany each song on the album will look like. Very cool."[7] Stereogum said: "You’d take Tori slinking along gold-wrought fences over the nonsense limo-driver scrum at Heathrow as a welcome to England any day."[8]

Track list[edit]

  • CD Single/Digital Download
  1. "Welcome to England" – 4:08
  • Digital EP
  1. "Welcome to England" - 4:08
  2. "Maybe California" - 4:24
  3. "Fire to Your Plain" - 3:02

Musicians[edit]

  • Bösendorfer, synths, and vocals: Tori Amos
  • Loops and drums: Matt Chamberlain
  • Bass: Jon Evans
  • Acoustic and electric guitars: Mac Aladdin

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

"Welcome to England" received mostly positive reviews from music critics. Drowned in Sound stated that the song is "both a return to classic Tori and autobiographical songwriting, and an indicator that this record is free from the high concepts that mark most of her 21st century output."[9] Stereogum was highly favourable of the single, agreeing with other reviewers that it was not a reinvention for Amos, but a strong single with edge and "killer beats", making it a "surprisingly vibrant track from such an aged vet".[8]

BBC Music likewise (favourably) found the song to be "Amos-by-numbers".[10] MusicOMH gave another positive review: "Welcome To England is an enjoyable romp through Tori's own back catalogue, as she seems to meld various snippets of her material together to make a new song that's both familiar and new."[11] Allmusic's guide to the album gives the track a mixed review, saying ""Welcome to England," whose 4/4 loop, drifting piano, and blend of guitars (electric and acoustic), strings, and ambient sounds is rudimentary Amos at best, and boring at worst", though highlighting the song as an album standout.[12] The A.V. Club's reviewer enjoyed the song, but as an alternative musician, he said that it would've been "better from actual rock bands".[13] Another mixed review came from the Los Angeles Times, saying: ""Welcome to England" is a silken glove with a few dropped stitches, specifically a guitar line that sounds borrowed from an '80s sitcom theme."[14]

Sputnikmusic gave it an acclaimed review, saying: "Welcome To England is a fine piece of music to say the least"[15] Music Fix said the song "works in the context of the album, lying snugly on its bed of electronica"[16] The reviewer for The Southern Star declared the song "classic Amos" and said, though a bit bland: "unlikely to cause too much of a stir."[17] The Huffington Post compared the song favourably to Kate Bush, saying: ""Welcome To England" sutures a concise vocabulary to an artsy, Kate Bush-style melody."[18]

Commercial response[edit]

"Welcome to England" did not chart on the US sales charts, though it peaked at number ten on the Adult Album Alternative radio play chart.[19]

Moderate chart/radio play positions were achieved in Belgium (Flanders), New Zealand and Russia.[20][21][22]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2009) Peak
position
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[23] 26
New Zealand (RIANZ)[24] 4
Russia (Digital Chart)[25] 232
U.S. Adult Alternative Charts (Billboard)[26] 10

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=15703
  2. ^ Bryant, Christopher (2009-05-09). "From the Fringes of the Milkway: An Interview with Tori Amos". Polari. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  3. ^ "Tori Amos Explains New Album Title, Releases New Video". www.antiMusic.com. 2009-04-16. Archived from the original on 20 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  4. ^ Tori Amos - Welcome to England www.itunes.co.nz. New Zealand Store.
  5. ^ a b Tori Amos: Welcome to Her World. Interview with Jambase. Retrieved on September 19, 2012.
  6. ^ http://pitchfork.com/forkcast/12719-welcome-to-england/
  7. ^ http://www.pinkisthenewblog.com/2009-04-03/first-look-tori-amos-welcome-to-england?menu&replytocom=264295
  8. ^ a b http://www.stereogum.com/62381/new_tori_amos_video_welcome_to_england/video/
  9. ^ http://drownedinsound.com/releases/14398/reviews/4136766
  10. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/rjhj
  11. ^ Tori Amos - Abnormally Attracted to Sin Review
  12. ^ Tori Amos - Abnormally Attracted to Sin // Review
  13. ^ Mincher, Chris (2009-05-19). "Tori Amos: Abnormally Attracted To Sin | Music | Music Review". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  14. ^ "Album review: Tori Amos' 'Abnormally Attracted to Sin' - latimes.com". Latimesblogs.latimes.com. 2009-05-18. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  15. ^ Sputnikmusic Review
  16. ^ Undented Website: Music Fix AATS Review - Tori Amos, Abnormally Attracted to Sin. Retrieved in 2009.
  17. ^ Undented Website: Southern Star Review - Tori Amos, Abnormally Attracted to Sin. Retrieved on 4 November 2009.
  18. ^ Ragogna, Mike. New Tunes On Monday: Green Day, Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood, Tori Amos, Kate Voegele, and Mat Kearney. Retrieved on May 18, 2009 01:11 AM.
  19. ^ http://www.billboard.com/artist/430284/tori+amos/chart
  20. ^ "ultratop.be – Tori Amos – Welcome to England" Top 40 Singles. Hung Median.
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ http://tophit.ru/cgi-bin/trackinfo.cgi?id=17827
  23. ^ "Ultratop.be – Tori Amos – Welcome to England" (in French). Ultratip.
  24. ^ Channel 63 | May 31 2009 - RadioScope New Zealand Archive from the original on June 2, 2009.
  25. ^ "TORI AMOS Welcome To England". TopHit.ru. 2006-04-06. 
  26. ^ Billboard.com