Apple Music 100 Best Albums

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I Put a Spell on You

Nina Simone


A singular interpreter at the peak of her powers, shape-shifting across styles.

I Put a Spell on You became one of Nina Simone’s most successful albums, and its title track—a string-laden, melodramatic cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ campy rock classic—would turn out to be her biggest single since her debut. But it was “Feeling Good” that ultimately became the album’s best-known track—the scale of the horn section and orchestra are no match for Simone’s vocal force on the completely reimagined show tune. It’s the rare minor-key celebratory anthem.

“She can do everything as if she means it.”

Brittany Howard

By putting her stamp on so many different types of songs, Simone fought against the somewhat limiting designation of “jazz singer.” “Pop singer” hardly was the best replacement, as evidenced by the way Simone’s musical edge never dulls, no matter how many layers of orchestration get added atop it. She was simply a singular interpreter, never hampered by the ways other artists might sing a song before or after her. Whether reimagining musical numbers (“Beautiful Land”), temporarily transforming into a chanteuse (“Ne Me Quitte Pas,” one of three tracks originally written in French), or casually tossing up familiar-sounding R&B songs like “Gimme Some,” Simone sounds equally comfortable—and equally, indelibly herself.