"Voices Carry" was the debut single, from the debut album of the same name, and greatest claim to fame for the group 'Til Tuesday. The lyrics were written by lead singer Aimee Mann, with music credited to the whole band.
The haunting, captivating tone of this song hit like a sledgehammer in 1985, when all else seemed to be twang and bubblegum. Notice the intense bass playing under the husky vocal declaring each line like an entry in a diary. There are very dark undertones in the song, hinting at an abusive relationship - "I try so hard not to get upset, because I know all the trouble I'll get." And while at first the guy is simply telling her to hush, later in the song this is elevated to "shut up!"
'Til Tuesday came out of Boston, Massachusetts after winning a radio contest, Boston's WBCN Rock & Roll Rumble, in 1983, with the song "Love in a Vacuum," which was re-recorded for Voices Carry. They established themselves as one of the new wave bands of the mid-'80s, staggering out into American culture to mix with the Minneapolis sound, the tail end of punk, and the blooming of the first yuppies - they're often compared to The Cars.
'Til Tuesday only charted in the Top-40 once more, with "What About Love" (not to be confused with the Heart song that the Swiffer mop company ruined forever with their sappy commercials). After faithfully hanging in there for four more albums, they broke up in 1988. Kind of like The Velvet Underground, they are now seen as a band ahead of their time, adored by critics but not selling well enough to stay together.
"Voices Carry" got a massive boost in popularity from their video rotating on MTV. This song also garnered 'Til Tuesday an MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist. The video shows Aimee Mann in her distinctive haircut looking like a starched Pomeranian with a rat-tail. And at the break, there's a little playlet with her oaf of a boyfriend sporting a wifebeater berates her for having a music career instead of being his hausfrau.
Aimee Mann embarked on a successful solo career and dipped a toe into acting, as well. Look closely, for instance, in a scene in The Big Lebowski where the nihilists are ordering pancakes and the gal on the end has a foot cast as the camera pans down - yep, that's Aimee Mann! In 1998, she married Sean Penn's brother Michael Penn, also a musician.
The band's drummer, Michael Hausmann, started his own artist management company whose clients include Mark Cohn, Suzanne Vega and... Aimee Mann.
Aimee Mann did a send-up of the video for this song in the clip for her 2012 song "Labrador
," where is coerced into doing a scene-by-scene remake against her wishes.
The video was directed by D.J. Webster, and it includes some dialogue mixed with the song. In the clip, Aimee Mann's creepy boyfriend (played by Cully Holland), derides her music career and gets rough with her. When they go to Carnegie Hall to watch the symphony, Mann can't take it anymore and has an outburst in the middle of the theater, finally expressing her pent-up frustration. This scene was inspired by the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock movie The Man Who Knew Too Much, where Doris Day screams during a symphony to thwart a murder.