Fast as You Can

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"Fast as You Can"
Single by Fiona Apple
from the album When the Pawn...
B-side "Across the Universe"
Released 1999 (US)
November 20, 1999 (Japan)
February 14, 2000 (UK)
Format CD single
Length 4:40
Label Epic
Songwriter(s) Fiona Apple (lyricist and composer)
Producer(s) Jon Brion
Fiona Apple singles chronology
"Across the Universe"
"Fast as You Can"
"Paper Bag"
"Across the Universe"
"Fast as You Can"
"Paper Bag"
Alternative cover
US promo CD
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[edit]

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."[2] Apple said the song is "really just thoughts that were running through my head that were in that rhythm".[3]

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.[4] "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."[5]

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."[2] 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."[6] Newsweek characterized the song as "galloping" and "syncopated",[7] and Spin magazine called it "skittery".[8]

The cover of the promo CD for the single in the US was drawn by Apple.[9]

Music video[edit]

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[10] 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!"[11] The video was photographed by Robert Elswit and edited by Dylan Tichenor, and it premiered in September 1999.[12] 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",[13] with media sources describing it as "quirky",[14] "simple, improvised",[8] "playful and inventive".[7]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1999) Peak
US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[15][16] 20
Chart (2000) Peak
US Billboard Adult Top 40[15] 29
UK Singles Chart[17] 33

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.[8] 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.[15] It charted at number twenty-three and was Apple's second biggest hit in the US after "Criminal" (1997),[18] 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.[17] "Fast as You Can" also reached number 62 in Australia's annual Triple J Hottest 100 poll.[19]


Track listings and formats[edit]


  1. ^ "Song Review by Matthew Greenwald". Allmusic. Retrieved 7 May 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Moon, Tom. "Fiona Apple has a new album to promote - and an image she'd like to change". The Philadelphia Inquirer. November 8, 1999. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
  3. ^ "Fiona Apple Has A Lot Of Explaining To Do". VH1 Online. October 30, 1999. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
  4. ^ Graff, Gary. "Sound Off - Fiona Apple". Wall of Sound. November 1999. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
  5. ^ Zollo, Paul. "Producer's Corner - Jon Brion". Performing Songwriter. July/August 2000. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
  6. ^ Pareles, Jon. "Fiona Apple's Angst, Bravado and 90-Word Title". The New York Times. November 7, 1999. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
  7. ^ a b Giles, Jeff. "Happily Ever Apple". Newsweek. November 8, 1999. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
  8. ^ a b c Light, Alan. "Girl On A Wire". Spin. February 2000. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
  9. ^ Unknown (1999). In "Fast as You Can" [promo CD liner notes]. United States: Clean Slate Records/Epic Records. ESK46302.
  10. ^ Corrigan, Susan. "Golden Delicious". i-D. March 2000. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
  11. ^ Harrington, Richard. "Fiona Apple: The Time Is Ripe". The Washington Post. November 28, 1999. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
  12. ^ "Fiona Apple - Fast as you can". Retrieved December 15, 2006.
  13. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer. "D'Angelo, Billy Gilman Top Billboard Music Video Awards Nominees". Rolling Stone. November 1, 2000. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
  14. ^ Gardner, Elysa. "Fiona's fresh spin on life, love and 'the business'". USA Today. November 30, 1999. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
  15. ^ a b c "Fiona Apple - Billboard Singles". Billboard and AllMusic. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
  16. ^ "Fiona Apple - Artist Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
  17. ^ a b everyHit - UK Top 40 Hit Database. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
  18. ^ "Fiona Apple". Rock on the Net. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
  19. ^ "Hottest 100 2000.". Triple J. Retrieved March 31, 2008.


  • Billboard. Issues dated from November 6, 1999 to February 12, 2000.
  • Unknown (1999). In When the Pawn [CD liner notes]. United States: Clean Slate Records/Epic Records.
  • AllMusic (2/5) link