Crazy/Beautiful: Amy Winehouse Is Kind Of A Big Deal
February 23, 2007 § 1 Comment
Surely, by now you have heard of Britain’s highly-anticipated musical import, Amy Winehouse–coming to an American music store near you March 13. Well in case you haven’t, I’ll clue you in before her award-winning 2006 album, Back to Black, finally hits the U.S. Back to Black has been in heavy rotation in my CD player ever since a friend put me up on it a few months ago, illegally I might add. I’ve got a love jones for this album, and that doesn’t happen very often in an age where everything sounds the same. Winehouse is kind of a big deal in Britain, and she’s been ruling the charts since her 2003 debut, Frank. Winehouse hype is circulating heavy around the blogosphere, and mainstream music outlets like SPIN and Rolling Stone are taking notice—finally.
Why? Winehouse is everything that popular music today isn’t—crazy/beautiful. I’ve coined this term especially fitting for Ms.Winehouse because initially her lyrics, although strong and witty, can be quite wacky. “What kind of fuckery is this/You made me miss the Slick Rick gig,” she complains in “Me & Mr. Jones (Fuckery). Even wilder, Winehouse prefers weed over sex. “Don’t make no difference if I end up alone/ I’d rather have myself a smoke my homegrown/ It’s got me addicted, does more than any dick did,” she professes in “Addiction.” The lyrics, all her own, are inspired from her experiences, which include forced trips to rehab for substance abuse (“Rehab”) and frustrations with being “the other woman” (“Just Friends”). For the faint of heart, Amy is not. She’s too exciting and unordinary to fit in that box. Her vocals and lyrics compliment one another and jump out in each track. Up-tempo fiery frustrations and mellow affirmations of love and heartache are vocalized, and laced with 60’s Motown inspired soulful tunes, creating arrangements that hint at familiarity, while still carrying a unique element. R&B producers Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson fuse the guitar, piano, trumpet, violin, and even a tambourine with vibrant sound mixing to create stylish melodies with bounce. There are even some slight covers on the album, like “Tears Dry On Their Own,” which mirrors “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
Winehouse’s softer side comes into focus on several tracks, like “Love Is A Losing Game,” and the title track, “Back to Black,” all which focus on the excruciating pains of love gone wrong. This is where the latter portion of my coined term (crazy/beautiful) for Winehouse shines through. Her crazed lyricism from previous tracks is replaced with astonishingly beautiful poetic verses, like these two verses from “Love Is A Losing Game.”
Though I’m rather blind
Love is a fate resigned
Memories mar my mind
Love is a fate resigned
Over futile odds
And laughed at by the gods
And now the final frame
Love is a losing game
Winehouse pours her heart into these songs vocally and her range is just right. This diva actually can hold a tune.
Summing up the album brings to mind two songs that will indefinitely heat up the singles charts once Winehouse hits the States. The songs, “Rehab” and “You Know I’m No Good,” the latter which features rapper Ghostface Killah in the U.S. version, are musically satisfying. On first listen, these songs are intoxicating due to the stylishly original beats and lyrics, which are sassy and unsullied.
Categorizing Winehouse into just one musical genre is limiting. She’s a little bit of everything. Winehouse is blues, indie-pop, hip-hop, R&B, and funk. At best, however Winehouse is a 60’s girl group member gone solo who just so happens to be trapped in the 21st century. She’s an eclectic and feisty songbird, or should I say songraven on her way. Look out for her.