Fast as You Can
|"Fast as You Can"|
|Single by Fiona Apple|
|from the album When the Pawn...|
|B-side||"Across the Universe"|
November 20, 1999 (Japan)
February 14, 2000 (UK)
|Songwriter(s)||Fiona Apple (lyricist and composer)|
|Fiona Apple singles chronology|
US promo CD
"Fast as You Can" is a song written by Fiona Apple, and produced by Jon Brion for her second album, When the Pawn.... It was released as the album's lead single in late 1999 in the United States and in February 2000 in the United Kingdom. It became one of Apple's most successful singles in both countries, and its music video, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, was well received. The video and track were popular on MTV Europe's US Top 20 resulting in some popularity for Fiona Apple across Europe.
Background and style
Apple said that with the song, she wanted to explore different moods and the "ups and downs" of a relationship. "When you get to the middle [of the song], that spell of confusion takes you out of the element for a minute, which is, of course, what happens emotionally. But the beat never changes." Apple said the song is "really just thoughts that were running through my head that were in that rhythm".
Jon Brion said he knew "exactly" what he wanted the song to sound like. "I knew I wanted it to be Matt Chamberlain on drums", he said. "He can play all this beautiful machine-influenced stuff, but with human feel." Brion played a "very busy bass line idea" for Apple on a keyboard in his kitchen, combining the line with a "groove" in the style of Chamberlain's work. Apple became excited and said, "That's great! That feels exactly like it!" Brion and Apple stressed in interviews that it was Apple, and not Brion, who created the time-changes and structure in the song were already present when he worked on it. "All I did was to heighten pre-existing things", Brion said. "In terms of the color changes, I am coordinating all of those, but the rhythms are absolutely Fiona's."
The Philadelphia Inquirer described the song as "slightly off-kilter, perpetually destabilized ... an intricate suite of shifting moods that starts as a '60s soul-jazz stomp, then is connected by a rueful ballad interlude to a sauntering triple-meter chorus." The New York Times wrote that it "signals its mood swings — love me, fight me, don't go, get out while you can — with tempo changes and unlikely interludes, from a blunt hip-hop drumbeat to [flute-like] 'Strawberry Fields' keyboards." Newsweek characterized the song as "galloping" and "syncopated", and Spin magazine called it "skittery".
The cover of the promo CD for the single in the US was drawn by Apple.
The single's music video was directed by Apple's then-boyfriend, film director Paul Thomas Anderson, who directed the video for Apple's previous single, "Across the Universe" (1998). Anderson shot the video in Pasadena, California with the crew he uses during the production of his films. "[I]t's all really fun", Apple said of the video. "I don't have to wear any makeup or anybody else's clothes — no negligees!" The video was photographed by Robert Elswit and edited by Dylan Tichenor, and it premiered in September 1999. In the video Apple is seen singing the song in and around a house, inside a garage, at a subway station and on a subway train. The video was filmed with a vintage hand-cranked camera, which is why Apple's mouth does not match the lyrics she sings. Throughout the video there are changes from black-and-white to colour and from fullscreen aspect ratio to widescreen. It was nominated for a 2000 Billboard Music Award for "Best Pop Clip of the Year", with media sources describing it as "quirky", "simple, improvised", "playful and inventive".
The single debuted on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart in late October, receiving minimal radio airplay until When the Pawn made a strong debut on the Billboard 200 albums chart. It subsequently rose to number twenty on the Modern Rock Tracks chart in mid-December, remaining on the chart for twelve weeks. On the Adult Top 40 chart, on which it debuted in early December, "Fast as You Can" peaked at number twenty-nine and stayed on the chart until early February 2000. It charted at number twenty-three and was Apple's second biggest hit in the US after "Criminal" (1997), though it failed to appear on the Billboard Hot 100. It became Apple's first — and, currently, only — single to hit the top forty in the United Kingdom, where it was released on February 14 and peaked at number thirty-three. "Fast as You Can" also reached number 62 in Australia's annual Triple J Hottest 100 poll.
Track listings and formats
UK CD re-mix
UK promo CD
US/Mexico promo CD
Japan CD single
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