Criminal (Fiona Apple song)

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Single by Fiona Apple
from the album Tidal
Released September 16, 1997
Format CD
Genre Alternative rock[1]
Length 5:42
Label Work, Columbia
Songwriter(s) Fiona Apple
Producer(s) Andrew Slater
Fiona Apple singles chronology
"Sleep to Dream"
"Never Is a Promise"

"Sleep to Dream"
"Never Is a Promise"

"Criminal" is a song by American recording artist Fiona Apple. Apple said that the song is about "feeling bad for getting something so easily by using your sexuality."[2] It was released as the third single from the album Tidal in September 1997, and is Apple's biggest hit, peaking at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as No. 4 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The song won the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance at the 40th Grammy Awards and was nominated for Best Rock Song. The song was listed at No. 71 on Blender magazine's 2005 list of "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born",[2] and No. 55 on VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the 90's".[3]

Music video[edit]

The song's music video was directed by Mark Romanek with cinematography by Harris Savides. The video features Apple sulking in various states of undress, and The New Yorker described her as "looking like an underfed Calvin Klein model."[4] It explores themes of voyeurism and adolescence.[5] In 1998, the video won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Cinematography.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Criminal" – 5:42
  2. "Sleep to Dream" (live) – 4:36


Chart (1997–98)[6] Peak
Australia (ARIA)[7] 51
Canada Alternative 30 (RPM)[8] 9
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 21
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)[10] 17
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[11] 4
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[12] 18
US Radio Songs (Billboard)[13] 21

Cover versions[edit]

Singer Natalie Cole covered the song for her twentieth studio album Leavin' (2006). Len Righi of The Morning Call wrote that she was surprised at Cole's ability to transform the "agonizing, brazen lament" into "a funky, Tina Turner-type, rump-shaker."[14]

In 2011, the band The Pretty Reckless played a live cover of "Criminal" for Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood.[15]

In 2014, actress Sarah Paulson covered the song in the episode "Massacres and Matinees" on American Horror Story: Freak Show.[16] The cover version was subsequently released as a digital download single.[17]

In popular culture[edit]


The music video for Criminal was the main inspiration for It Was Romance frontperson Lane Moore's music video to her song "Hooking Up With Girls," with many visuals as well as costumes inspired by the film.[18][19]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born: 51-100". Blender. October 2005. Retrieved June 29, 2007.[dead link]
  3. ^ "VH1: 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s". VH1. Archived from the original on 2014-11-08. Retrieved 2014-11-18. 
  4. ^ Frere-Jones, Sasha. "Extraordinary Measures". The New Yorker. October 10, 2005. Retrieved June 18, 2007.
  5. ^ Zeltner, Mark. "Fiona Apple's 'Criminal' and Video Voyeurism for the '90s". Images, issue 5. Retrieved June 28, 2007.
  6. ^ "Tidal > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles".
  7. ^ "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart Week Ending 24 May 1998". ARIA. Retrieved 2016-02-04. 
  8. ^ Canadian Alternative peak
  9. ^ "Fiona Apple Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
  10. ^ "Fiona Apple Chart History (Adult Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
  11. ^ "Fiona Apple Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
  12. ^ "Fiona Apple Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
  13. ^ "Fiona Apple Chart History (Radio Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
  14. ^ Righi, Len. "Natalie Cole". The Morning Call. Tribune Company. Archived from the original on November 21, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Taylor Momsen Rocks Hard At Hollywood's Hard Rock Cafe (PHOTOS) - idolator". idolator. 2011-04-22. Retrieved 2017-06-18. 
  16. ^ "Conjoined Twins Cover Fiona Apple on 'American Horror Story'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-06-18. 
  17. ^ "Criminal (From "American Horror Story") [feat. Sarah Paulson] - Single by American Horror Story Cast on Apple Music". iTunes. Retrieved 2017-06-18. 
  18. ^ It Was Romance’s New Video Is A Remake Of Fiona Apple’s "Criminal" A ’90s dream come true
  19. ^ This Lesbian Homage to Fiona Apple’s ‘Criminal’ Is Exactly What You Need Right Now

External links[edit]