Aimee Elizabeth Mann (born September 8, 1960) is an American singer-songwriter. Over the course of four decades, she has released more than a dozen albums.

Aimee Mann
Mann onstage holding an acoustic guitar
Mann in concert, October 2008
Background information
Born (1960-09-08) September 8, 1960 (age 61)
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)Musician
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • bass
  • guitar
Years active1980–present
Labels
Websiteaimeemann.com

Mann was born in Richmond, Virginia, and studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. In the 1980s, after playing with the Young Snakes and Ministry, she co-founded the new wave band 'Til Tuesday. Mann sang vocals and played bass guitar, and wrote their top-ten single "Voices Carry" (1985). 'Til Tuesday released three albums and disbanded in 1990 when Mann left to pursue a solo career.

Mann released her first solo album, Whatever, in 1993, followed by I'm With Stupid in 1995. They received positive reviews but low sales. Mann achieved wider recognition when she recorded songs for the soundtrack to the Paul Thomas Anderson film Magnolia (1999), earning nominations for the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal.

After Mann's record company Geffen refused to release her third album, Bachelor No. 2, Mann self-released it under her own label, SuperEgo Records, in 2000; it received strong sales and critical acclaim. Mann has released seven solo albums since. In 2014, she released an album with Ted Leo as the Both. She has won two Grammy Awards, including Best Folk Album for Mental Illness (2017), and was named one of the ten greatest living songwriters by NPR in 2006.

Early lifeEdit

 
Mann with the Young Snakes in 1981

Mann was born outside Richmond, Virginia,[1] on September 8, 1960.[2] When she was three, her mother had an affair and became pregnant,[3] and her parents divorced.[1] Mann was kidnapped by her mother and her new boyfriend and taken to Europe, where they traveled.[1] Her father hired a private detective, who brought her back from England a year later[1] to a new stepmother and two stepbrothers.[3] Mann did not see her mother again until she was 14.[1] Mann believes the episode gave her post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety around travelling later in life.[3]

Mann grew up in Bon Air, Virginia, attended Midlothian High School in Chesterfield County, and graduated from Open High School[4] in Richmond.[citation needed] When Mann was 12, she told her family she wanted to learn to play the bass guitar. Her family ridiculed her, and she did not take up the bass until later: "When I grew up, I was in charge of my own life. I became serious about music. I finally learned how to play bass. What they thought didn't matter."[5] She learnt to play her brother's guitar when she was confined to bed with glandular fever at the age of 12.[6]

As a teenager, Mann enjoyed David Bowie and Iggy Pop, and found punk and new wave music inspiring. She said: "[It] was so interesting, so inventive – literally do whatever you want. That Patti Smith was out there and people were accepting her? Oh my God, there's a way out."[3] Feeling she did not fit in the "normal world",[3] Mann enrolled in Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1978,[citation needed] and studied bass guitar.[7] After 18 months, she dropped out and joined the Boston punk band the Young Snakes on bass.[5][7] She was unhappy in the band, saying the other members objected to her writing love songs or "any songs that had melody".[5] She joined the band Ministry,[3] which she said helped her learn to write songs efficiently.[5]

CareerEdit

1980s: 'Til TuesdayEdit

 
Mann with 'Til Tuesday in 1985

In 1983, Mann founded the new wave band 'Til Tuesday in Boston with her Berklee classmate and boyfriend Michael Hausman.[citation needed] Mann played bass and performed vocals.[7] They released Voices Carry, their debut album, in 1985. The single "Voices Carry" reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100[8] and won that year's MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist.[9] According to Mann, "Voices Carry" was one of the first songs she wrote.[10]

'Til Tuesday released Welcome Home, their second album, the following year.[11] Mann sang vocals with Geddy Lee on the 1987 single "Time Stand Still" by Rush, and appeared in the music video.[12][13] 'Til Tuesday released their third and final album, Everything's Different Now, in 1988.[14] They broke up in 1990 when Mann left to start her solo career.[12] She said in 2018: "['Til Tuesday] were sort of doing, like, post-new-wave dance-pop stuff ... I started to feel like it was not really my thing. Acoustic guitar music was what I was more influenced by and what came naturally to me."[10]

1990s: Solo beginnings and MagnoliaEdit

Mann developed her first solo albums with producer and former 'Til Tuesday bandmate Jon Brion.[10] Her debut solo album, Whatever, was released in 1993 on the independent label Imago.[15] After she finished her second album, I'm With Stupid, Imago encountered financial problems; they eventually sold the album to Geffen, who signed Mann in 1994 and released I'm With Stupid in 1995.[15] According to Pitchfork, Mann's first two solo albums showed that she was "a witty, self-possessed songwriter", but they did not meet commercial expectations, with sales "in the low six figures".[16] Mann began to be seen as "an 80s pop casualty"[11] who was "approaching has-been status".[17]

In 1997, Mann recorded a cover of "Nobody Does It Better", the theme song of the James Bond film 1977 The Spy Who Loved Me, for the album Shaken and Stirred: The David Arnold James Bond Project.[18] She also made a cameo in the 1998 film The Big Lebowski as a German nihilist.[19] Mann received wider recognition after she contributed songs to the 1999 film Magnolia. Her music had inspired the film; director Paul Thomas Anderson said he "sat down to write an adaptation of Aimee Mann songs".[17] The film features dialogue taken from Mann's lyrics and a sequence in which the cast sing her song "Wise Up".[17] The Magnolia soundtrack album was eventually certified gold.[17] The song "Save Me" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song and a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal;[17] Mann performed it at the 72nd Academy Awards.[16] Mann later said the song "really gave a blood transfusion to my career. But it wasn't like I went from playing to five people to 5,000 people. It was just a real influx of energy."[11]

2000—2004: Bachelor No. 2 and label independenceEdit

Geffen refused to release Mann's third album, Bachelor No. 2, feeling it contained no hit singles.[16] In response, Mann sold homemade EPs of her new music on tour, which she described as a "DIY fuck-you-record-company-I'm-selling-it-myself move".[11] When Geffen gave Mann the opportunity to leave her record contract, she took it; she said later: "I could not have gotten out of there fast enough."[20]

In 2000, Mann and her manager, former 'Til Tuesday bandmate Michael Hausman, formed their own label, SuperEgo Records,[17] and bought the Bachelor No. 2 masters from Geffen.[16] Mann sold 25,000 copies via mail order from her website, a large amount for an independent artist.[21] After she secured a distribution deal,[21] Bachelor No. 2 sold more than 200,000 copies, outperforming I'm With Stupid.[16] Pitchfork described this as a "decisive victory";[16] a year earlier, Sony employee Gail Marowitz had predicted that Mann would make more money selling 70,000 albums independently than by selling 300,000 on a major label.[15] Bachelor No. 2 became the 28th-best-reviewed album of the decade, according to the aggregation website Metacritic.[22]

In 2000, Mann also formed the Acoustic Vaudeville project, a mixture of music and comedy, with her husband, the songwriter Michael Penn. Among the comedians joining them for shows were Janeane Garofalo, Patton Oswalt and David Cross.[23][24][25][26] In 2001, Mann sued Universal Music over the release of a greatest-hits compilation, The Ultimate Collection, which she had not authorized and considered "substandard and misleading".[27] She was also a judge at the inaugural Annual Independent Music Awards, an award for promoting independent musicians;[28][29] she judged the awards again in 2011.[28]

In 2002, Mann released her fourth album, Lost in Space.[30] In 2004, she released Live at St. Ann's Warehouse, a live album and DVD recorded at a series of shows in Brooklyn, New York City.[31] She also appeared in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer,[19] performing "This Is How It Goes" and "Pavlov's Bell", and on The West Wing, performing a cover of James Taylor's "Shed a Little Light".[32] Mann sang on "That's Me Trying" from William Shatner's 2004 album Has Been, cowritten and produced by Ben Folds.[33]

2005—2008: The Forgotten Arm and @#%&*! SmilersEdit

 
Mann in concert on October 15, 2005

In May 2005, Mann released The Forgotten Arm, a concept album set in the 1970s about two lovers who meet at the Virginia State Fair and go on the run.[34] The album artwork earned a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package.[35] In October 2006, Mann released One More Drifter in the Snow, a Christmas album featuring covers and new songs.[36] Mann said she did not enjoy the approach of combining Christmas songs with modern genres, and instead drew inspiration from Christmas records by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee and the Vince Guaraldi Trio.[37] In 2007, Mann contributed two original songs, "The Great Beyond" and "At the Edge of the World", to the soundtrack to the film Arctic Tale.[38] She also contributed vocals to "Unforgiven" on John Doe's album A Year in the Wilderness.[39]

In 2008, Mann released her seventh album, @#%&*! Smilers. It debuted on the Billboard 200 at number 32 and on the Top Independent Albums chart at number 2.[40] @#%&*! Smilers received mostly positive reviews,[41] with AllMusic writing that it "pops with color, something that gives it an immediacy that's rare for an artist known for songs that subtly worm their way into the subconscious ... Smilers grabs a listener, never making him or her work at learning the record, as there are both big pop hooks and a rich sonic sheen."[42] The music video for "31 Today", directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, features comedian Morgan Murphy.[43] The artwork, by Gary Taxali, was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Recording Package.[44]

2010s: Charmer, Mental Illness and the BothEdit

 
Mann performing with Ted Leo as the Both in Philadelphia in May 2014

In May 2011, Mann performed for President Barack Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama, at a poetry seminar at the White House.[45] She also appeared in a sketch for the Independent Film Channel series Portlandia; she plays herself working as a cleaning woman, telling Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein that she needs the second job to support herself.[19]

In 2012, Mann released her eighth solo album, Charmer, featuring a duet with James Mercer of the Shins. Two singles were released: "Charmer", with a music video directed by Tom Scharpling, and "Labrador," which features the actor Jon Hamm and references to Mann's music videos with 'Til Tuesday.[46] In the same year, Mann contributed vocals to Steve Vai's album The Story of Light on "No More Amsterdam" and recorded the song "Two Horses" for the soundtrack of the film Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie.[47]

In February 2013, Mann and Ted Leo formed a duo, the Both, and performed shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco.[48] They released an album in April 2014.[49] In 2013, Mann was featured on the Ivan & Alyosha album All the Times We Had.[50] On July 22, she filed a lawsuit against MediaNet, claiming they were distributing 120 of her songs on an expired license agreement.[51] She attempted to claim as much as $18 million in statutory damages.[52] Mann settled out of court in 2015.[53]

In February 2014, Mann appeared in "Giant Woman", an episode of the animated series Steven Universe, as the voice of the Gem fusion Opal.[54] She reprised her role for Steven Universe: The Movie (2019); with Leo, she performed the song "Independent Together".[55] Mann contributed a version of Styx's "Come Sail Away" to the 2014 Community episode "Geothermal Escapism".[56] In October 2016, Mann released a new song, "Can't You Tell", as part of the 30 Days 30 Songs campaign protesting presidential candidate Donald Trump.[57]

In March 2017, Mann released her ninth solo album, Mental Illness.[58] It won the Grammy Award for Best Folk Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.[59] In May, Mann and Coulton sang at the Revolution Hall of Portland, Oregon.[60] That September, Mann contributed a song "Everybody Bleeds" to an episode of the Netflix series Big Mouth.[61] In January 2018, Mann appeared in an episode of the FX series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story as a bar singer, performing the 1984 Cars song "Drive".[62] In 2019, she released an expanded 20th-anniversary reissue of Bachelor No. 2 for Record Store Day.[63] She also hosted a podcast with Leo, The Art of Process, interviewing celebrities including Wyatt Cenac and Rebecca Sugar.[64]

2020s: Queens of the Summer HotelEdit

In 2020, Mann wrote a song, "Big Deal", for the animated series Central Park, performed by Stanley Tucci.[65] On November 5, 2021, Mann released her tenth album, Queens of the Summer Hotel. It features songs inspired by Girl, Interrupted, the 1993 memoir by Susanna Kaysen about her time in a psychiatric hospital. Mann had developed the songs for a musical based on the memoir with producers Barbara Broccoli and Frederick Zollo, which was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.[3]

Influences and musicianshipEdit

Mann's first instrument was the bass guitar; she performed as the bassist in the Young Snakes, 'Til Tuesday and the Both. She generally plays acoustic guitar for her solo shows, as "it's more convenient", with her producer Paul Bryan on bass.[7] Mann cited Leonard Cohen, Stephen Sondheim, Fiona Apple and Jimmy Webb as artists she admires.[66] She said Elton John was the artist who was most important to her at an early age: "His melody, the chords, his singing ... There was something in the DNA of his melodic structure that I picked up on later and was influenced by."[67] She also said that American Songbook standards and ragtime had "resonance" for her.[67]

The New York Times described Mann as a "formalist of pop songwriting" whose "verses, choruses and bridges arrive in their proper places and melodies trace a measured, symmetrical rise and fall".[68] In 2006, NPR named Mann one of the ten greatest living songwriters.[69]

Personal lifeEdit

According to the Ministry frontman Al Jourgensen, he and Mann had a brief "dysfunctional" romance in Boston in the 1970s or 1980s, which he said inspired "Voices Carry".[70] In 1997, Mann married the songwriter Michael Penn,[66] brother of actors Sean Penn and Chris Penn.[71] They met in 1993 while Mann was recording her first solo album, Whatever,[19] and live in Los Angeles.[1]

In 2002, Mann entered the Sierra Tucson rehab center with PTSD, anxiety, and depression. The success of the Magnolia soundtrack caused her anxiety. She also experienced intrusive thoughts resulting from an accident when the car of a drunk driver flipped her tour bus. [3] In 2020, Mann developed a nervous system disorder that gave her tinnitus, migraines, nausea and dizziness and prevented her from listening to music for a year. She believes the disorder was triggered by a combination of childhood trauma and the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.[3]

DiscographyEdit

Awards and nominationsEdit

Grammy Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2001 Magnolia Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media Nominated
"Save Me" Best Song Written for Visual Media Nominated
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Nominated
2006 The Forgotten Arm Best Recording Package Won
2009 Fucking Smilers Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package Nominated
2018 Mental Illness Best Folk Album Won

Other awards

Year Awards Work Category Result
1985 American Video Awards "Voices Carry" Best Female Performance Won
2000 Academy Awards "Save Me" Best Original Song Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Original Song Nominated
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards Best Original Song Nominated
Online Film & Television Association Nominated
Satellite Awards Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards Best Video from a Film Nominated
Best Editing Won
2006 PLUG Awards The Forgotten Arm Album Art/Packaging of the Year Nominated
2013 A2IM Libera Awards Charmer Creative Packaging Award Nominated
2018 Mental Illness Best American Roots & Folk Album Won
2022 Denmark GAFFA Awards Herself Best Foreign Solo Act Pending [72]
Queens of the Summer Hotel Best Foreign Album Pending

Film and television appearancesEdit

In 2006, Mann appeared on an episode of the television series Love Monkey.[73] In 2008, Mann appeared in the Comedy Central series Lewis Black's Root of All Evil in a comedic interview conducted by comedian Paul F. Tompkins.[74]

On November 20, 2014, Mann appeared with Dana Gould and Nick Offerman on @midnight on Comedy Central,[75] and on March 21, 2016, Mann made a second appearance on the show with Jonathan Coulton and Dave Hill.[76]

On August 19, 2015 Mann appeared with the Both band member Ted Leo on Conan performing an unsolicited campaign song for 2016 presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee.[77]

In 2016, Mann covered the Carpenters' hit 1973 single "Yesterday Once More" for episode 2 of HBO's Vinyl. In the episode, Natalie Prass cameos as the visage of Karen Carpenter, lip syncing Mann's cover in a car with Olivia Wilde's character during a dream sequence.[78]

On January 24, 2018, Mann appeared as the character Peg Peterson on Comedy Central's Corporate in the episode "The Pain of Being Alive". She plays the part of an employee of the Hampton DeVille Company with a very desirable parking space. Mann does not sing and no songs are credited to her in this episode, although her song "Nothing is Good Enough" plays as her character is hit by a car.[79]

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit