Before her music career, Palmer worked for years as a Living Statue called the Eight Foot Bride. She then co-founded the Brechtian punk cabaret band the Dresden Dolls, along with drummer Brian Viglione. They released three studio albums: their self-titled debut album was followed by the releases Yes, Virginia in 2006 and No, Virginia in 2008. The band went on hiatus in 2008, the same year Amanda released her first solo album Who Killed Amanda Palmer. Although they've done shows together since then, the band has officially broken up.
She married Neil Gaiman in January 2011. Also in 2011, she released her second solo album, Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under later in the same month. In 2012, she released an album with her newest band Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra called Theatre is Evil. Palmer used the website Kickstarter to raise funds to produce this album, and raised more money than any other musical Kickstarter up until that time. She released the album for free through her website, and then debuted on the Billboard top 100 Album list at number 10 due to the immense number of Kickstarter pre-orders.
Her songs vary wildly in style and topics, with many featuring some Dark Humor and subject material. Many of them are full of puns, and there's a strong running theme of children's songs in a new grownup context. Amanda's also known for performing covers of whatever she feels like, ranging from Radiohead, to classic musicals, to Black Sabbath, to Britney Spears. She made a parodic cover version of Rebecca Black's song "Friday" from the perspective of a truck-stop prostitute.
In 2014 Amanda released The Art of Asking, a book which is part-memoir, part philosophy, and an expansion of her TED talk. On September 16, 2015, she gave birth to her and Neil's first child, a son they named Anthony, nicknamed Ash.
This musician shows examples of:
- Audience Participation: Audience singalongs, audience sleepovers, audience makeshift-French-hotel-wine-parties.
- Black Comedy: While "Oasis" was already this, the crowd during the one time she tried to sing it in minor key thought it was gut busting.
- Body Paint: Used to entertaining effect in her music video of "Want It Back"(NSFW).
- Broken Ace: "The Perfect Fit" is a very good Broken Ace anthem.
- Broken Record: In the second verse of "Coin-Operated Boy".
- The Cameo: Sang backing vocals for Weird Al in the song "First World Problems".
- Character Tic: When sitting at her keyboard, she tends to only use one foot to manipulate the volume/sustain pedals, and will rest her other foot in the crook of the keyboard stand.
- Country Matters: "So we hide from the cunts/On a night reconnaissance" from Night Reconnaissance.
- Epic Rocking: "Mandy Goes to Med School" has been known to become this in concert. It's a song about a pair of backstreet abortionists, yeah.
- Fanservice: Sometimes spiraling into Full-Frontal Assault. What is this "modesty" you speak of?
- Fille Fatale: "Missed Me"
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Palmer's purple "Map of Tasmania" (pubic hair) can be briefly seen about 5 or 6 seconds into the video, before appearing in all its glory at 0:35.
- Full-Frontal Assault: Will strip off whenever the hell she feels like it with no discernible reason or warning, but the song about the Daily Mail probably counts as a Full Frontal Verbal Assault.
- Hairy Girl: Wrote a song about her bush.
- Ironic Echo: A standby.
- "Night Reconisannce" has one where the song starts off with the narrator being yelled at as a Satan worshipper, among other labels, and by the end of the song they've started calling themselves such with pride.
- Last Note Nightmare: "Slide".
- "The saddest note in the world"
- Location Song:
- "Australia", about a woman dissatisfied with her boring domestic life, fantasizing about going to Australia and having adventures. The general structure of the song is verses describing the boring things she could do with her life, and then a chorus beginning "Or I could go to Australia" followed by the adventurous things she could do. The last chorus subverts this by going "Fuck it, I'm gonna go to Australia!"
- "New Zealand", supposedly written in 20 minutes in the dressing room of a club because a New Zealander fan heard "Map of Tasmania" and asked "Where's our fucking song", is an irreverent little ditty about Amanda being on a tour through New Zealand, admiring (and Twittering) the scenery, and worrying about why she hasn't gotten her period and her pubic hair is turning grey, "but I don't believe in the beauty standard and there's no way that I'm pregnant so it's technically okayyyyyy!" At the end, she lampshades the trope with the following Last Note Hilarity (the rhythm deliberately falls apart on the last line, delivered in a Motor Mouth style to cram it all in):New Zealand, New Zealand, my song is coming to an end
I hope you have enjoyed it and I hope I get my period
I also hope I haven't grossed you out
But that's what you get when you ask me to write a song about your country in twenty minutes
- Lyrical Dissonance: Many of her songs, but "Oasis" takes the cake. The song is about a girl getting raped at a party and then going to get an abortion, It's presented with a very upbeat tone, almost entirely in major chords. One time in concert, she tried performing the song the way critics thought the song should have sounded: much slower, and with a depressing tone, replete with lots of minor chords. Halfway through the first verse, she says, "fuck it" and goes back to playing the song as originally written.
- Lyrical Shoehorn: In "Shores Of California", the lyrics reference Lysistrata and The Iliad, but cite their authors in the wrong order: It's probably almost impossible to rhyme "Aristophanes" with anything, while "Homer" at least comes somewhat close to rhyming with "Lysistrata". The liner notes to Yes, Virginia... do some parenthetical Lampshade Hanging:That's the way Aristophanes and Homer
Wrote The Iliad and Lysistrata
(not in that order)
- Madness Mantra: "I'm not the killing type, I'm not the killing type, I'm not, I'm not..." In "The Killing Type" she lists her profound frustration with a significant other, all while insisting that she's not the killing type. The whole thing steadily turns more and more violent and eventually devolves into her simply yelling "Die! Die! Die! Die!", and finishes by meekly repeating once more: "I'm not the killing type..."
- Mercy Kill: In "The Killing Type" she says that she stepped on a dying bird to put it out of its misery.
- "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name: Not her given middle name, but she's been known to go by "Amanda Fucking Palmer".
- Ms. Fanservice: Amanda has no problem with this; she'll strip naked onstage, do nude photo shoots, even shoot a lesbian sex scene for a music video(NSFW). Taken to the logical extreme when she guested on Flaming Lips cover of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", most of which is her completely naked in a bathtub and ends with her faking an orgasm.(VERY NSFW)
- The Musical:
- Quirky Ukulele: Parodied in "Ukulele Anthem", a satirical song about how playing the ukulele will make your life more fulfilling and quirky.
- Refuge in Audacity: "Oasis", especially the music video.
- Self-Harm: "Bad Habit" is about being addicted to self-mutilation, its causes and its consequences.
- From "Good Day", a Shout-Out to Gloria Gaynor ("I should have changed that stupid lock (...) I will survive"):I'd love to have you up to see the place... I'd like to do more than survive, I'd like to rub it in your face!"
- From "Jeep Song":I see a red jeep and I want to paint it black!"
- From "Sing":
- "Oasis" contains references to Blur and, yes, Oasis.
- "The Killing Type" references The Threepenny Opera:I walk New Orleans with a knife / like Mackie hidden out of sight...
- "Do It With A Rockstar" includes:Do you wanna hit me, baby, one more time?
- From "Good Day", a Shout-Out to Gloria Gaynor ("I should have changed that stupid lock (...) I will survive"):
- The Something Song: "The Jeep Song", "The Sheep Song", "The Bed Song" and her cover of Nick Cave's "The Ship Song".
- Stealth Pun: In every single song.
- From "Guitar Hero":It's a hit!
- From "Girl Anachronism":I'm not right now at all.
- From "Sex Changes":You'll never hear the little pitter patter pitter patter of this little feat of engineering...
It leaves you feeling pretty hollow...
- This entire song could stand as an example, title included. Depending on which parts you take literally and which you take as metaphors, the song is either about a person considering gender reassignment surgery (a literal sex change), someone who has taken up self-abuse to deal with the shame of losing their virginity to someone who didn't actually love them (sex changed the their relationship), or someone who had an abortion (sex changed their life, essentially).
- From "Half-Jack":You'll learn to hear the difference
Between the halves and the half-nots.
- From "Ultima Esperanza":She lost her legs in a car crash three years ago,
She doesn't get around much.
- From "Guitar Hero":
- Wardrobe Malfunction: When the Daily Mail reported on a nipple slip and neglected to discuss anything else about her concert, she responded epically by writing them a song that devastatingly deconstructed the trope's misogynist undertones. During which she proceeded to outright defy the trope by stripping completely naked onstage. (Link NSFW.)