'Til Tuesday - "Voices Carry" (1985)
OK, I'm going to admit it, turns out the cute redhead in the band that I always thought was better looking than Aimee Mann is actually guitarist Robert Holmes.
It's a track that leans heavily on the synthesizers and driving high hat but the vocals and bass really make it a memorable track. Aimee Mann provides both of those things. Her shouted lines like "He wants me/ but only part of the time./ He wants me/ if he can keep me in line!/" (Mann) are powerful and compelling, and her sung/whispered take on the chorus is so breathy it would be sexy if she wasn't talking about an abusive relationship. Mann is also the bass player and the bass line is the only instrumental part that sticks with me. The backing vocals are also really lush , with male and female vocalists blending together to sound really big and deep and important. It really helps the song build at the end so that the backing vocalists can keep going while Mann on lead can start going into her "He said shut up!" lines.
The song was famously written as a woman singing to another woman, but the record company wanted the song to be the lead single off the album so they asked for a change. The band agreed and 'Til Tuesday got their biggest hit. Aimee Mann went on to a solo career, including an Oscar nomination for her work on the soundtrack to Magnolia. In 2005 she recorded an acoustic version as an iTunes exclusive. It's not completely acoustic mind you, just features an acoustic guitar, but it's very worth a listen. Her voice is still great.