Shadowboxer (song)

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Single by Fiona Apple
from the album Tidal
B-side Never Is a Promise
Released July 1, 1996 (1996-07-01)
Format CD single, Maxi single
Recorded Ocean Way Recorders
(Los Angeles, California)
Genre Jazz[1]
Length 5:26
Label Work, Columbia
Writer(s) Fiona Apple
Producer(s) Andrew Slater
Fiona Apple singles chronology
"Slow Like Honey"

"Shadowboxer" is a song written and performed by American alternative singer-songwriter Fiona Apple. It was released on July 1, 1996 by Work Records and Columbia Records as her debut single from her debut studio album Tidal (1996).

Background and release[edit]

Apple recorded the song with collaborator Jon Brion in 1995 immediately after being signed to a record deal with Sony Music Entertainment. Its lyrical content mainly explores the themes of the dangers of desire and vulnerability.[2] It was then released as her debut and lead single from her forthcoming debut studio album on July 1, 1996. A music video of the song directed by Jim Gable was released. Apple performed "Shadowboxer" in various events, most notably at the 22nd season of Saturday Night Live[3] and on the television special MTV Unplugged: Fiona Apple.[4]

Chart performance[edit]

The song charted inside the Top 40 of 2 different Billboard charts. It spent six weeks on the Alternative Songs chart, peaking at number 34.[5] It fared much better on the Adult Pop Songs, peaking at number 32 and spent over 15 weeks on the chart.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

"Shadowboxer" has received critical acclaim from music critics, with many of them comparing Apple's voice to Nina Simone and her lyrical talent to Carole King.[6] Steven Mirkin of Entertainment Weekly gave the song an A-, he wrote, "Singing to a former lover, her slurred, smoky vocals float above a loping, gospel-tinged piano, vibes, and string arrangement, making her "Shadowboxer" sound like Nina Simone covering early Elton John. Although she's only 18, she has the poise of a seasoned singer."[7] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic described the song as "haunting", remarking that while "it strives to say something deep and important, much of the lyrics settle for clichés."[8]

Track listing[edit]

CD single[9]
  1. "Shadowboxer" - 5:26
  2. "Never Is a Promise" - 5:56
Maxi single[9]
  1. "Shadowboxer" (radio edit)
  2. "Shadowboxer" (album version)
  3. "Never Is a Promise"
  4. "Carrion" (Live)


Credits adapted from the liner notes of Tidal;[10]

  • Bass – Greg Richling
  • Drums – Danny Frankel
  • Organ [Chamberlain] – Patrick Warren
  • Vibraphone, Piano [Tack] – Jon Brion
  • Vocals, Piano – Fiona Apple


Chart (1996) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[11] 169
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)[12] 32
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[13] 34

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label Catalog
United States[9] July 1, 1996 (1996-07-01) CD single Work Records, Columbia Records WRK 663482 1
France[9] Sony Music Entertainment WRK 663482 1
Austria[9] WRK 663482 2
United Kingdom[9] Columbia Records SAMPCD 3535


  1. ^ ""Shadowboxer" |". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "Fiona Apple - Tidal". Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Saturday Night Live - Robert Downey Jr.-Fiona Apple - Season 22, Episode 6". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "MTV Unplugged - Fiona Apple". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Shadowboxer - Fiona Apple - Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  6. ^ Helligar, Jeremy (25 November 1996). "Apple's Way". People. Time Inc. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  7. ^ Mirkin, Steven (23 August 1996). "Music Review: Fiona Apple, Shahowboxer' (1996)". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  8. ^ Thomas Erlewine, Stephen (23 July 1996). "Fiona Apple - Tidal - Review". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Fiona Apple - Shadowboxer". Discogs. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  10. ^ "Fiona Apple - Tidal". Discogs. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  11. ^ "Response from ARIA re: chart inquiry, received 12 July 2016". Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  12. ^ "Fiona Apple – Chart history" Billboard Adult Pop Songs for Fiona Apple.
  13. ^ "Fiona Apple – Chart history" Billboard Alternative Songs for Fiona Apple.

External links[edit]