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Album: Left Of The MiddleReleased: 1997Charted:
  • In 1991, the songwriters Anne Preven and Scott Cutler wrote this song with Phil Thornalley, a producer who had worked on albums by The Cure, XTC, and Edwyn Collins. The song was first recorded by the Danish singer Lis Sørensen as "Braendt," with Danish lyrics written by Elisabeth Nielsen, appearing on Sørensen's 1993 album Under Stjernerne Et Sted.

    Preven and Cutler formed a band called Ednaswap, and released the first English version of "Torn" on their 1995 debut album. Ednaswap got little attention, but the song was released in Denmark again in 1996, this time by the Norwegian singer Trine Rein and with the English lyrics.

    "Torn" found its way to Natalie Imbruglia when the song's co-writer Phil Thornalley ended up working on her first album. Imbruglia is an Australian actress who was on the Aussie Soap Opera Neighbours from 1992-1994 (the same one Kylie Minogue starred in). Thornalley had her record the song, and it was released as her first single in 1997, launching her singing career. Imbruglia's debut album Left Of The Middle was released in 1998 with "Torn" as the first track. Thornalley co-wrote five other songs on the LP, and became one of the most popular producers in pop, with a client list including Ronan Keating, Bryan Adams, and Mel C. He and Preven teamed up again to write the #1 UK hit "Mama Do" for Pixie Lott.
  • This song has a very strange history on the Billboard charts because it was popular at a time when the Hot 100 methodology changed. The song was a huge hit in America throughout the summer of 1998, spending 11 weeks on top of Airplay/Radio Songs chart. The song was released only as a radio promo single, however, as Imbruglia's label withheld commercial availability in the hope that consumers would instead purchase her album. Songs that were not available for purchase as singles were ineligible for the Hot 100 until December 5, 1998, when Billboard revised the policy, allowing songs not available at retail to appear on the chart with airplay factored into the ranking. "Torn" was at the end of its run at this point, but still managed to make the chart at #42 that week before dropping off two weeks later.

    This #42 chart position is very deceptive, since the song was far more popular. Most other hits of this era that were not issued as singles and thus ineligible for the Hot 100 have not placing on the chart at all - No Doubt's "Don't Speak" and The Wallflowers' "One Headlight" are examples.
  • Before it exploded on the UK charts, Imbruglia's version was shopped around to record labels in the US, and was turned down by every one of them. That is, until the song became a hit and everyone wanted a piece of the pie. Phil Thornalley recalled in a Songfacts interview: "Everybody in the US said, 'No thanks.' And then, of course, it became a massive hit here in the UK, and the very same A&R man who had said 'I don't want it' in New York was now trying to get his name put on the album to say that he was the executive responsible for it. And that's the music business. That's quite cynical but that's true. That's how it works."
  • So, what was so special about Imbruglia's rendition anyway? Thornalley told us: "Obviously, she was a pop star and had a background as an actor so she looked the part. She knew how to make a great video and the quality to her voice seemed to suit the song because the song is quite anxious, and yet her voice is quite sweet. So, I think that made it an attractive union of emotions."
  • The video was directed by Alison Maclean, a Canadian filmmaker who also did Imbruglia's clips for "Big Mistake" and "Wishing I Was There." Maclean was mostly known for her short films Kitchen Sink and Crush, and her time working on films informed her approach to the "Torn" video, which has a very casual feel, intercutting off-action scenes (crew members giving direction, Imbruglia stretching and getting ready) throughout. The result is part acting, part outtake, which created a very intimate feel as it was all shot on the same set.

    In many cases, the best footage on any shoot comes when the actors think the cameras aren't rolling, since they're relaxed and genuine. Maclean got this footage by keeping the camera going during some of these down times. The acting parts were based on a scene from the film Last Tango in Paris.
  • This was the first song One Direction sang as a group when they formed on The X Factor (UK) in 2010.
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Comments: 10

Please anyone has opinion or explanations about her strange pronunciation of the word "perfect" (I can hear "prrrefect"..am I wrong ?) in this song ? Is it a common Australian way to do so ? (sorry, English is not my native language...)Benoit - Paris, France
I still love that song - and stuff the Welshman's view ;) - some folk seem to delight in the downfall of othersAnthony - Fareham, United Kingdom
Well she is a hauntingly beautiful girl and she does a good job on this song but her follow-ups like ´Wishing you were here¨sucked like an industrial vacuum. i guess she needs to carefully choose material in future.Rod - Gainesville, Fl
I heard this song a lot during road trips.Joel - Any Town, Ks
I absolutely could relate to this song when all is going wrong in your life. You look for answers with a ray of hope ..and of course you have to deal with the let down of disappointment "illusion never changed into something real" You keep on wishing for that guy to come thru ..and he winds up not calling or is caught with someone else...or you look for that situation at work to turn around...and it stays the same...just some examples...Its an awesome song..but the words really make you think.Tricia - Rockville Centre, Ny
Yeah, give the girl a break. It's a great recording, in any case.Guy - Woodinville, Wa
The horns are similar to those of "She's a Star," but the 1995 Ednaswap and 1996 Trine Rein versions had a guitar solo almost exactly like those of Imbruglia's version.Max Robertson - Morrison, Il
i dont care who wrote it...its still a good songNatalie - Fulshear, Tx
Ednaswap's version of "Torn" is the definitive version, even if Natalie Imbruglia's version is the more famous. Her attempts to launch herself as the depressed rock chick soon saw her fall out with the critics, and after a million-selling debut album in "Left Of The Middle", her next two albums flopped. Unkind critics have labelled her a poor man's Alanis Morrissette, but she didn't do herself any favours by embarassing herself on an episode of Chris Evans' TV show "TFI Friday" in 1998. Chris Evans said to her "Great lyrics, you're one hell of a songwriter", Natalie replied "Thank you Chris, my pleasure", at which point someone in the audience shouted out "Hang on - you didn't wite it, it's a cover version!". Natalie was also accused of stealing the horns at the end of the song from Indie band James' hit "She's A Star", which hit the chart less than six months before she covered "Torn"Dave - Cardiff, Wales
Natalie Imbruglia is married to the lead singer of Silverchair.Suzi - Charleston , Sc
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