Criminal” is a song by Fiona Apple. Apple said that the song is about “feeling bad for getting something so easily by using your sexuality.” It was released as the third single from the album Tidal in September 1997, and is Apple’s biggest hit, peaking at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as #4 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The song won the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance at the 40th Grammy Awards and was nominated for Best Rock Song. The song was listed at number 71 on Blender magazine’s 2005 list of “The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born”. It reached #55 on VH1’s “100 Greatest Songs of the 90’s.”

Though the lyrics appear to be mostly original work, the intro line “I’ve been a bad, bad girl“, and accompanying melody were first heard on a recording made by Alan Lomax entitled “Prison Blues“, performed by Ozella Jones

The song’s music video was directed by Mark Romanek with cinematography by Harris Savides. The video features Apple sulking in various states of undress, and The New Yorker described her as “looking like an underfed Calvin Klein model. “It explores themes of voyeurism and adolescence. In 1998, the video won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Cinematography.

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I’ve been a bad bad girl
I’ve been careless
With a delicate man
And it’s a sad sad world
When a girl will break a boy
Just because she can
Don’t you tell me to deny it
I’vedone wrong and
I want to
Suffer for my sins
I’ve come to you
‘Cause I need
Guidance to be true
And I just don’t know
Where I can begin
What I need is
A good defense
‘Cause I’m feelin’
Like a criminal
And I need
To be redeemed
To the one
I’ve sinned against
Because he’s all
I ever knew of love