Amy Jade Winehouse 14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011
It's almost inconceivable to think that it's been over 5 years since the loss of one of the music greats. Not everybody was a fan of her as a personality, mainly due to her excessive drug use and general anti-social behavior, but—much like the Gallagher brothers of oasis fame - it is near impossible to ignore the talent that she had. Unfortunately for all of us, we only got to hear this in-deniable talent on two occasions, in 2003's 'Frank' and the masterpiece which turned ten on Thursday, 2006's Back to Black.
But, a whole decade on, what is our obsession with Winehouse's album that basically opened her personal life up to us all?
Well its just that.
As quickly as she let us in, however, we lost her to her inner demons. after a heavy few days drinking, she was found deceased by her body guard in 2011. The coroner for the death concluded that it was a case of misadventure, and having blood-alcohol levels 5 times over the legal drink-drive limit was the cause.
Her father had this to say for her eulogy during the service amongst close family and friends:
"Goodnight, my angel, sleep tight. Mummy and Daddy love you ever so much."
We all must still accept that we have lost one of music's greatest talents. I fear it will be a long while now until we find a voice as unique and powerful as hers. RIP Amy.
It's still outstaning today
On a Lighter Note
Now respects have been paid, and we can get over our little cry at the loss we faced 5 years ago, let's focus on the music. Albums like Back to Black don't come along every day, year, or even decade. When was the last time you remember an album having such an impact that this did upon its release 10 years ago? No, me neither.
"Why did Back in Black have such a massive impact?" I pretend to hear you ask. Well, it was arguably one of the first albums released to be almost uncomfortably honest. An Artist living a life like Winehouse did can produce some very dark emotions and scenes, and these are portrayed in this album exquisitely. Lines such as this from the title track are a key example of this:
'And life is like a pipe / And I’m a tiny penny rolling up the walls inside.'
The poetic nature of every line that forms this album is the key reason for its success. On face value, this album is amazing on its own but read into its lyrics, and you soon begin to realize you're not just listening to another album, but you're listening to a biography of a suffering soul.
The US and Japan Have a Different Cover to The UK
Lana Del Rey, Sam Smith, Lady Gaga, Emeli Sandé and Florence Welch are just a few names that have credited Amy Winehouse for their influences. Adele said this about her during an interview for Rolling Stone:
“Because of her, I picked up a guitar, and because of her, I write my own songs,” Adele told Rolling Stone last year. “The songs that I got signed with are the songs I wrote completely on my own. If it wasn’t for her, that wouldn’t have happened. I owe 90 percent of my career to her.”
It is near impossible to ignore this widespread influence Winehouse had on many artists that we listen to today. With our current greats such as Adele saying such praise for the once great singer, its hard not to agree that Back to Black dropped with a massive impact a decade ago.
The influence here really falls back to the brutal honesty found in this album. Had the courage not been there for Amy to produce an album which opened her own life up so much, the 'weirder' side of pop music would never have found its way out, and then songs such as 'Dog Days Are Over' by Florence and the Machine or 'Someone Like You' by Adele would never have made it too light. I don't know about you, but in a world without these massive hits is a seemingly dark one to me, and I don't even like to think about it.
The Album went on to sell 3.5 Million copies in the UK alone. the 35-minute masterclass of jazz/soul is still to this day one of the greatest written pieces in the industry. At the 50th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony, Back to Black won Best Pop Vocal Album and was also nominated for Album of the Year. At the same ceremony, Winehouse won four additional awards meaning that she ties with five other artists as the second-most awarded female in a single ceremony. The album was also nominated at the 2007 Brit Awards for MasterCard British Album and was shortlisted for the 2007 Mercury Prize. It found its way to becoming the UK's second best-selling album of the 21st century. By 2013, the album had sold over 12 million copies worldwide.
So as you can see, Back to Black may be ten years old, but still, its influence on current music can not be ignored. Although we sadly lost its artist, we have a lot to thank it for.