Aimee Mann is from Virginia, and is one of many successful Berklee College of Music dropouts. She is known for her straightforward but somewhat sorrowful style of Pop-Rock. Her albums often tell stories, sometimes a different tale with each song, and sometimes with concept albums based on a particular storyline, as with The Forgotten Arm (2005).
After graduating from the Open High School in Richmond, Virginia in 1978, Mann earned a spot at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. Aimee Mann experimented with different musical styles in the 1980s, first dropping out of college to perform with her punk band Young Snakes, then founding new wave act 'Til Tuesday with Michael Hausman. 'Til Tuesday's best-known song is the anthemic breakup ballad "Voices Carry
." She went on to record three full albums with 'Til Tuesday before embarking upon a solo career.
She provided vocals on the Rush song "Time Stand Still
," and appears in the 1987 music video looking majestically '80s with white-blonde hair.
Mann's songwriting style has taken on a signature morose tone over the years since her foray into New Wave. Known for collaborations with independent creatives in film and comedy such as P.T. Anderson and Paul F. Tompkins, respectively, Mann explores the dark sides of human nature in her songs. She says, "There is always a fair amount of moments where I write something that I suddenly realize is a very apt description of a situation that's uncomfortable or horrible, but that the very accuracy of it makes me laugh, even though I can't really expect that other people will. It's a bit of a gallows humor, maybe."
Her depressing love ballad "Save Me," featured in the P.T. Anderson film Magnolia, was nominated for an Academy Award in 1999. She lost to Phil Collins' "You'll Be in My Heart."
Mann has also made several appearances on art-house film and television productions, notably in The Big Lebowski and on Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen's loving hipster send-up Portlandia.
She is known for her aversion to major label control of her music. At the turn of the millennium, Mann led the charge of a new crop of independent musicians founding their own labels to produce and distribute the music they wanted to make. She released her 2000 album Bachelor No. 2 (Or, The Last Remains of the Dodo) on her own SuperEgo Records.
The actor Sean Penn is her brother-in-law; she married his brother, the singer/songwriter Michael Penn, in 1997.