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How Fiona Apple’s ‘Paper Bag’ Emerged as the Defining Anthem of ‘The Idea of You’

Fiona Apple is renowned as the songwriter to turn to when seeking catharsis for romantic struggles. Her lyrics delve into themes of unrequited love, regret over lost relationships, and the self-destructive patterns that can sabotage personal connections. Alongside this reputation as a lyrical healer, Apple has become a favored vocalist for three prominent comedy directors: Michael Showalter, Judd Apatow, and Paul Feig.

Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple is celebrated as the go-to songwriter for navigating romantic turmoil, lamenting lost loves, unreciprocated affections, and self-inflicted heartbreaks. Moreover, she’s become a preferred vocalist for three prominent comedy auteurs: Michael Showalter, Judd Apatow, and Paul Feig.

Apple’s music has made its mark in three of their films. For Apatow’s “This Is 40,” she penned the original song “Dull Tool,” encapsulating the strain of a decades-long marriage nearing its breaking point. Additionally, her poignant track “Cosmonauts” from the 2020 album “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” was initially intended for the same film, echoing themes of resigned romance.

Fiona Apple the idea of you

In Feig’s “Bridesmaids,” Apple’s classic cabaret-inspired “Paper Bag” provided the soundtrack for a montage featuring Annie (Kristen Wiig) seeking solace in baking amidst her single life. This track has now found its way into Showalter’s romantic drama “The Idea of You,” resonating with the protagonist Solène’s journey as she navigates a whirlwind romance with pop star Hayes Campbell while grappling with her past. the idea of you

The heartfelt lyrics of “Paper Bag,” where Apple yearns for a love she knows is unattainable, mirror Solène’s sense of drifting singledom in the film.

Fiona Apple is well-known for her meticulous approach to integrating her songs into movies and TV shows. When licensing her music for projects, she often chooses to donate the royalties to charity. Since her last album, “Fetch the Bolt Cutters,” she has shifted her focus to social activism, notably participating as a court watcher.

Despite her hiatus from album releases, Apple has remained active in the music industry. She contributed vocals to the upcoming “Lord of the Rings” TV series on Amazon and provided the theme song, “Container,” for Showtime’s “The Affair.”

Fiona Apple has formed personal connections with notable figures in Hollywood, including director Paul Thomas Anderson, with whom she had a long-term relationship. Additionally, she has been romantically linked with magician David Blaine and comedian Louis C.K. However, despite these connections, her music rarely appears onscreen.

One notable instance of her music being featured in a television show is her song “Valentine,” which is off her 2012 album “The Idler Wheel.” This track appeared in a Season 2 episode of “Girls,” a show executive-produced by Judd Apatow. In that episode, the main character Hannah Horvath, portrayed by Lena Dunham, expresses her desire to “feel it all” to a weekend-long fling, echoing sentiments found in Apple’s lead single “Every Single Night” from the same album.

In “The Idea of You,” the inclusion of “Paper Bag” occurs during Solène and Hayes’ first encounter following their initial meeting at Coachella. Solène, having recently gone through a tumultuous divorce, likely still grapples with emotional instability, feeling “too shaky to hold,” as described in Fiona Apple’s lyrics. Hayes, as the frontman of a One Direction-like band called August Moon, may not be familiar with Apple’s music when Solène mentions her name at a warehouse in Glendale. This moment unfolds after Hayes purchases all the artwork from Solène’s gallery, indicating his interest in her and setting the stage for their burgeoning connection.

In “The Idea of You,” Solène introduces Hayes, who is already showing interest in her, to a painting titled “Unclose Me” by her artist friend Sarah (based on the real-life painter Sarah Anne Johnson). Their bond was initially forged in college, where Solène knew they’d become fast friends because she was “blasting a Fiona Apple song from her dorm room,” a classic inception story for Apple’s music.

Later, in Solène’s car with Hayes, she plays “Paper Bag” on the stereo, presumably introducing Hayes to Fiona Apple’s music for the first time. This moment offers insight into Solène’s character and influences, revealing her daughter Izzy’s (played by Ella Rubin) love for “aggressively talented female singer/songwriters,” as mentioned in the film’s opening scene. This suggests that Izzy is likely a fan of artists like Mitski as well.

As Michael Showalter explained in an email with IndieWire, “Originally, the line was about Ani DiFranco. That’s what we shot, and for a while, we had Ani DiFranco’s amazing song, ‘Both Hands’ in the film.” Ani DiFranco, for those in need of an adult alternative refresher, ranks alongside Fiona Apple, PJ Harvey, Liz Phair, and Tori Amos as one of the Gen X goddesses.

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