The Influence of Amy Winehouse

Continuing the theme from previous posts, in this article we will be taking a look at Amy’s impact and influence on popular culture.

We will be looking at the artists she inspired, how she reinvigorated the stagnated British music scene and how she kicked started a major interest in British entertainment abroad.

The Third British Invasion

Amy Winehouse has been credited by many including, Adele, Florence Welch, Duffy and Lady Gaga with kick starting a third British Invasion.

Now obviously this British invasion is not quite as large as the one from the 1960’s. But still I think its safe to say that since the release of “Back to Black”, British music and indeed forms of entertainment have seen a sharp rise in popularity.

In the early 2000’s British musics popularity in the United States was at an all time low. Less than 2 percent of the top 100 albums in the United States were from the United Kingdom.

In April 2002 for the first time since the 1960’s there were no British singles on the Billboard 100 singles chart.

Thus when Amy Winehouse first emerged; British music in America had basically returned to where it had been when the Beatles first rose to fame.

In between 2002 and 07 there would be a few British artists who would enjoy success in America, but ultimately it wasn’t until after Back to Black’s release that a real wave of British artists began to emerge in the US.

Back to Black enjoyed record breaking success in America. It was at the time of its release the highest ranking debut album by a British female artist in the Billboard 200 charts history. It also caused Amy Winehouse to win more Grammy’s in a single night than any other British artist at that point in the award shows history. In fact it was also the largest amount of wins by a female artist at that point too, though Amy was not the only woman to win 5 Grammy’s by 2008.

Following the release of Back to Black many more British artists began to enjoy success in America.

Between 2007 and 2008 the year of Back to Black’s release albums by British artists increased from 8 percent to 10 percent of the market.

In 2008 the likes of Duffy, Leona Lewis and Adele enjoyed both commercial and critical success in the American market. Adele would go on to win 2 Grammy’s in 2009 whilst Leona Lewis’s album Spirit reached number 1 on the Billboard 200 charts.

Leona Lewis became the first British solo artist to debut on the American charts with a debut album. In 2009 there were  a total of 16 Grammy awards given to British artists. Susan Boyle would then go on to have the best selling album in America in 2009 and has had a number of hit albums and singles ever since. Jay Sean topped the charts in 2009 whilst Taio Cruz topped the Billboard 200 in 2010. Other artists to enjoy success on the billboard 200 in this time include Estelle, MIA and Muse who were named Billboard Alternative and Rock artist of 2010. Florence and the Machine’s debut album “Lungs” also enjoyed commercial success in America when it was released there at the end of 2009. It eventually sold over a million copies in America and was a top 20 hit on the charts.

By 2011 1 in 8 albums sold in America were by British artists. The likes of Jessie J, Ellie Goulding, Adele, Mumford and Sons and Florence and the Machine all had massive success that year. Adele in particular broke several records and had the best selling album stateside in 2011 and 2012. Since then the likes of Tinie Tempah and One Direction have continued to have mainstream success in America.

Thus as you can see from about 2008 the year Amy won 5 Grammy’s onwards there was an increase in the rise of British musicians enjoying success in America.

Now I am not saying that all of these artists owe all of their success to Amy Winehouse, but its definitely fair to say that the rise of Amy Winehouse created a large demand for British artists. Particularly British female artists. Its no coincidence that most of the artists to enjoy massive commercial success after Amy were women. Leona Lewis, Adele, Florence Welch and Susan Boyle.

In the few years before Amy, British music was at the lowest point it had ever been in America. The year after her record breaking success in 2009 we have British artists like Adele winning multiple grammy’s and others like Leona Lewis topping the charts and then Susan Boyle having the best selling album of the year in 2009. Followed by in 2011, for the first time in quarter of a century, the top 3 albums on the American Billboard 200 all being by British artists.

Many have attributed the rise of British artists to Amy, including not only the British artists who have enjoyed success in America in recent years, such as Adele, but also many prominent music critics as well.

Spin magazine music editor Charles Aaron referred to Amy Winehouse as the “Nirvana” moment for artists like Adele and Duffy. Whilst Keith Caulfield the chart manager for Billboard stated that it was because of Amy that the American marketplace was able to get singers like Adele, Estelle and Duffy among others.

In addition to a rise in the popularity of British music, a rise in other forms of British entertainment has taken place since Back to Black’s release. British television from the late 00’s began to enjoy more widespread popularity in America. Merlin for instance in 2009 was shown on NBC, a mainstream American channel. The revival of Doctor Who meanwhile as we all know began to gain popularity from late 2009 onward, with each season gaining higher viewing figures than the last.

Other British shows like Torchwood, Sherlock, Downton Abbey and Top Gear have also enjoyed success in America in the following years.

In this respect Amy WInehouse can really be seen as The Beatles of the 00’s. I am not saying that Amy’s influence could ever compare to The Beatles overall. No one can compare to the Beatles in terms of impact and influence, and I doubt anyone ever really will come close to matching their success. I am also not saying that the current invasion is as large as the one from the 60’s either.

However Amy’s role though on a smaller scale was the same in her generation as The Beatles was in their generation. Both the Beatles and Amy made it big in America in a time when it was very difficult for a British artist to enjoy success over there, and both laid down the template for the others who followed in their wake.

With the Beatles obviously it was bands with the likes of Herman’s Hermits and The Rolling Stones following in their wake in America, whilst with Amy it was obviously female solo artists like Adele, Susan Boyle, Estelle and Duffy. Also The Beatles established the British invasion of the 60’s as a Rock invasion, whilst Amy established the British invasion of the late 00’s as being primarily a Soul invasion.

The only difference was that Amy sadly was unable to enjoy the wave she created. Whilst the Beatles continued to make albums throughout the 60’s. Amy sadly due to her problems was never able to produce a follow up, making Back to Black her only big hit over there. I am in no doubt that had it not been for the problems plaguing her she would have continued to enjoy success in America and produce more quality albums.

Sadly however I suppose she is now more comparable to The Sex Pistols in the sense of like them she left a big impact with a small body of work. The Sex Pistols who have been massively influential on both British and American bands produced a grand total of one studio album!

Still there is no denying that Amy’s influence on the American music market was big and long lasting. Now almost 10 years after Back to Black’s release in America. Its influence over there can still be felt.

Rise in Non Sexualized Performers

Image result for adele

Now Adele is often given the credit for this which as we all know I find to be unfair.

Amy Winehouse was among the first contemporary, massively successful British female performers who did not have an overtly sexualized image.

Not there is anything wrong with female performers using their looks or sex appeal. Plenty of male performers do it, so I don’t see any problem with women doing it.

However at the same time obviously it is good to see female and male performers who rely solely on their music enjoy success, and again I think you can attribute the recent wave of female performers who rely solely on their voices, to Amy.

Amy certainly relied on her voice and she dressed in very unconventional clothes. Styles that were last popular in the 1960’s!

Whenever she performed she did not need back up dancers or to dance around or anything like that. She could wow the audience with her voice alone. After her rise to fame we start seeing many more female performers of this ilk such as Adele, Susan Boyle and Emeli Sande.

Of course I am not saying Amy WInehouse was the first female performer not to use her looks to sell music even from her generation. The likes of Amy Lee debuted before her. However again I think it was Amy who really lead to a wave of female artists like this. Amy was after all marketed for her voice and her voice alone, and thus after her global success other artists started being marketed for their voice like Adele Susan Boyle, Paloma Faith, Florence Welch and Emeli Sande. If you want to give an artist credit for allowing female performers to be big without having to star in overtly sexualized videos then its Amy not Adele you should give the credit to.

Rise in Eccentric performers

Many have credited Winehouse with paving the way for more eccentric and unconventional female performers as well.

Lady Gaga herself has frequently mentioned this. She said that she never felt she would have been signed, as she was too offbeat for record execs. She said seeing Amy Winehouse who was as eccentric as anyone could possibly be gave her the confidence she needed to make it.

Once again you can see a rise in more eccentric and offbeat female performers after Amy’s success. Paloma Faith, Florence Welch, Shingai Shoniwa, Jessie J, Lady Gaga and Lana Del Rey all of whom have credited Winehouse with making the general public more accepting of their unusual style.

Rise in Soul Singers

Winehouse’s success led to a major revival in the popularity of soul singers on both sides of the pond. The most obvious examples of this are of course Duffy, Estelle, Florence Welch Adele and Paloma Faith. Many have also referred to the third British invasion that Winehouse started as a “British Soul Invasion” as well. Following the release of Back to Black many of the best selling albums in the UK have been soul albums. In 2008 Duffy’s Rockferry was the best selling album in the entire United Kingdom. In 2011 it was Adele’s 21, whilst in 2012 it was Emeli Sande’s Our Version of Events.

Rise in Solo Female Performers

Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen have both been credited with a rise in popularity of solo female singers in both the United Kingdom and abroad.

From about 2007 on female performers started to dominate the music market.

In 2007 2008 and 2009 the best selling albums in the United Kingdom were all made by women. Back to Black in 2007, Rockferry by Duffy in 2008 and I Dreamed a Dream by Susan Boyle in 2009.  In 2011 and 2012 the best selling albums of the year in the United Kingdom were also by women 21 by Adele and Our Version of Events by Emeli Sande.

In addition to this other female performers like Florence Welch, Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga, Paloma Faith, Ellie Goulding have also all enjoyed massive success on the British charts too.

Abroad meanwhile the likes of Susana Boyle, Lady Gaga, Adele, Caro Emerald, and Lana Del Rey have dominated the charts.

Once again the third British Invasion abroad has also been referred to as “The Female invasion”. In 2009 the British media declared it the year of the women, due to five women being nominated for the prestegious Mercury prize.

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article6725104.ece

The year of the women was once again attributed to both Winehouse and Lily Allen. Again obviously this is not saying that there were no successful women in music before Amy, or no waves of highly popular female singers either. However these things come in waves. Boy bands for instance were popular in the 60s thanks to the Beatles only to fade somewhat in the 70s, and then re-emerge in the 90s. Similarly I think its fair to say that Amy led to a rise in popularity at that time of solo female singers, and allowed them to really dominate the market.

Artists Directly Inspired by Winehouse

The following are very notable artists that have been inspired by Amy Winehouse. Included are quotes from said artists about Amy’s influence on them.

Emeli Sande

“I LOVE Amy Winehouse she was a big inspiration to me”

“I would have loved to work with Amy Winehouse”  When asked who would have been her ultimate artist to work with.

Interview with Sande on how Back to Black convinced her not to hold anything back as a song writer.

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=6&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CDAQFjAF&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fprogrammes%2Fp00m1910&ei=S-4NVbfxGY6t7Ab1m4GIDg&usg=AFQjCNEB6tKt86w8ZX1D9TTPphsF9tRpVQ&sig2=RIhPsSKKLfZ5-b6jWSm6lQ

Ellie Goulding

“She’ll be an inspiration not just because of her music but because she was an icon and legend.”

“She helped pave the way for females like me in America. She seemed to have so much love for everybody”

Caro Emerald

“She was my big inspiration. When she came along there wasn’t much Jazz or swing in the charts. But Amy sexed up the whole genre. I discovered her while studying Jazz at the Amsterdam Conservatory”

Lady Gaga

“Of course you always listen to the greats. Amy Winehouse was great”

“Amy changed pop music forever. I remember knowing there was hope and feeling not alone because of her. She lived Jazz, She lived the blues.”

I will always have a very deep love for Winehouse. I don’t believe that what I do is very digestible and somehow Amy was the flu for pop music. Everybody got a little bit of flu and got over it and fell in love with Amy Winehouse And now when more flu comes along its not so unbearable”

Amy is a real artist. There is something about her that is so honest”.

Lana Del Rey

Image result for lana del rey

“I believe in Amy Winehouse. I know she’s not with us anymore, but I believe who she was and in that way she got it right”

Rebecca Ferguson

“She’s one of my big influences. She was real and she wasn’t in it for the fame. She was artistic and her music was lovely.”

Florence Welch

Interview with Florence on Back to Black

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=10&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CEsQFjAJ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fprogrammes%2Fp00m191v&ei=FPcNVZKmBNXgapyHgMgL&usg=AFQjCNFSeojHKlMUrtAku_QF6ikHZH_qPQ&sig2=C_h88ibo0nUVLVMDkiiKEA

Laura Mvula

” I don’t talk about Amy Winehouse as a singer. She’s a pioneer. I listened to her endlessly when I started writing.”

Sam Smith

I Miss Amy Winehouse so fucking much. Her music still inspires just as much as it did the first day I heard it”

Bruno Mars

I felt like everything I’ve been saying everything I wanted to do she did it. It was one of those things like Damn it Damn it! It was perfect”

You couldn’t put it in a box cause it could be played on rock stations, it could be played on rhythmic stations it could be played on pop radio and I’ve always wanted to make music like that that could be spread out and can’t be pigeon held to one thing. And they did it her and Mark Ronson.”

Tom Jones

Yes believe it or not Amy Winehouse influenced Tom Jones comeback album in 2008.

“We’ve been thinking of doing this for a while now, doing a retro sound but new and Amy Winehouse she cracked it! When that album came out, my son called me right away and said you know what we’ve been talking about? Listen to this.”

Jessie J

Image result for Jessie J

“Without Amy Winehouse I would never have been signed.”

“Amy definitely paved the way for people like me and Adele. She broke boundaries, she set the standard. She wrote music that went worldwide. Until that point British female artists hadn’t really done anything since Annie Lennox. That was a long time ago” 

“I kind of feel like Amy brought it back and I don’ t think that she even realized that she did”

” I feel like- especially for me and I definitely think that Adele feels the same – I will not let her down and I will carry on from where she set the standard. Its an honor to be here and I will be thinking of her.”

Paloma Faith

Image result for Paloma Faith

“She paved the way for me and others like me and her legacy will live on timeless and infinite all at the same time. I am so moved and so grateful for what she contributed to our generation of music and only sad she wont be around to do more.”

Adele (of course)

“Amy paved the way for artists like me and made people excited about British music again. Grateful to have been inspired by her”

Conclusion

As you can see Amy Winehouse left a huge impact on popular culture and on the music industry. Though her body of work was sadly small, her influence was anything but. The most popular artists to have emerged since have all been directly inspired by her. Adele, Lady Gaga, Sam Smith, Lana Del Rey and Paloma Faith. Its doubtless that she will continue to inspire many others. As Paloma herself said her legacy is timeless and infinite at the same time.

Amy Winehouse and Adele

In the last article we took a look at the comparisons between Amy WInehouse and Paloma Faith. Now we will be looking at the the comparisons, as well as the friendship between Amy Winehouse and another beloved British soul singer, Adele Laurie Blue Adkins.

Now Adele and Amy Winehouse are probably the two most prominent British artists of the past 30 years.

Their second albums are the two best selling albums of the 21st century in the UK, and both managed to enjoy record breaking success abroad, smashing records set by the likes of The Beatles and Madonna.

Both are also soul singers, rose to fame with their second albums “Back to Black” and “21”, both often sing about heartache and breakups, and both even have similar looks too. Dark eyeliner, dark clothes and a large beehive.

Naturally all of these similarities have caused quite a few comparisons to pop up over the years.

It could be argued that Adele vs Amy is the new Stones vs The Beatles. Two British music phenomenons, with one a bit more clean cut than the other one.

In real life Adele and Amy were actually very good friends. I don’t know much about their friendship as very little has been written about it. Neither Amy nor Adele were exactly the type to give interviews.

Still Adele did appear to have been very close to Amy at one point, as there is a video online of Adele attending Amy Winehouse’s 25th birthday party way back in 2008

This party was only attended by family members and very close friends including both Mark Ronson and Dionne Bromfield, so the fact that Adele was among those in attendance shows she and Amy must have been very close.

According to George Michael, Adele’s relationship with Amy was so close that she refused to sing at an Amy Winehouse tribute concert he had planned because it was too emotional for her.

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=10&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CEQQFjAJ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmetro.co.uk%2F2012%2F07%2F19%2Fadele-scrapped-amy-winehouse-tribute-as-she-was-too-emotional-502427%2F&ei=Y2ANVce1KYX8UOPIgIgL&usg=AFQjCNFTzZpdUchQe73btMkKzxIgrpIFpw&sig2=h_Vzvu2HwG8lhNAF9DiX2w&bvm=bv.88528373,d.ZGU

Adele would pay a number of tributes to her friend nonetheless on her own.

Not many people have them in it to do something that they love simply because they love it, with no fuss, no compromise, but she knew what she was capable of and didn’t even need to try. If she wanted to do something she would, if she didn’t she’d say fuck off. It came easy to her and that’s why we all loved her so much. We believed every word she wrote and it would sink in deep when she sang them. Amy paved the way for artists like me and made people excited about British music again whilst being fearlessly hilarious and blaze about the whole thing. I don’t she ever realized how brilliant she was and how important she is, but that just makes her more charming. Although I’m incredibly sad over her passing I’m also reminded of immensely proud of her I am as well, and grateful to be inspired by her. Amy flies in Paradise xx.”

Adele’s tribute to Amy Winehouse which she posted on her blog. The title of this tribute “Amy flies in paradise” was a reference to a line from “October Song” on Amy’s debut album. This song was written about Amy’s pet canary who had passed away called Ava. The line was “Ava flies in paradise”.

As you can see Adele and Amy clearly had a very special friendship and its obvious that Adele had a great love for Amy with “Amy flies in Paradise” being one of the most beautiful, touching and moving tributes I have ever seen

The stories of them being class mates are complete fabrication however. The two did attend the Brits School, but Amy was several years older than Adele and apparently the two did not even meet at school. It was only years later after they had both become established singer songwriters that they became close.

Also the stories of Amy Winehouse being resentful of Adele’s success are complete lies. They came from an interview with Mark Ronson who knew both of them and were according to Ronson made up by the interviewer desperate to try and spice things up a bit.

Here was Ronsons angry retraction of the interview

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=14&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CGIQFjAN&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.eonline.com%2Fnews%2F317346%2Fmark-ronson-denies-saying-amy-winehouse-was-freaked-out-by-adele-s-success&ei=smcNVfSSA9LB7AbN4IGoDg&usg=AFQjCNGAyn4zE0lZ0-3e-MhqyKX2ZlBCwQ&sig2=rQg_3exELpeWrUeSOvgxgA&bvm=bv.88528373,d.ZGU

Thus it appears that there was no rivalry at all between Amy and Adele. .

Sadly despite their strong friendship the two never recorded a song together. They did once share the stage together, but sadly they did not perform a duet.

It was at the 2008 Brit Awards where they both performed with Mark Ronson.

However whilst Amy and Adele may have been anything but rivals, a rivalry still exists between their fans to some extent, and some of the comparisons between them have been used to belittle the other one from time to time.

Depending on what you read, Adele is either a low rent Amy Winehouse who is only successful because Amy died, or Amy Winehouse was an old has been who was eclipsed by Adele.

Its a shame when people have to do down one artist in favor of another, though I must confess I am not above doing that myself.

I think a lot of Amy fans can get a bit annoyed when they see Adele get credit for things that Amy did first. For instance people give Adele credit for not using her looks to sell music whilst Amy never did either. Many of the things you see people go on about Adele being so fabulous for doing, like starring in a video where she doesn’t do any dancing around, its just her singing etc, Amy was doing 5 years earlier.

See for yourself

People praise Adele for doing a video in black and white, Amy did that years before.

People praise Adele for doing a video that’s just her sitting in a chair. Amy did that years before.

People praise Adele for doing a stripped down performance of a song at the Brits without any flashy effects or dancers that’s from the heart. Amy did that 3 years earlier!

I must admit even though I am an Adele fan (I have both of her albums) I always got a little bit annoyed at this. As an Amy fan I remember when people used to make vile remarks about Amy’s looks. I’d see them everywhere in the papers, comedians on the television, people on blogs, and magazine’s would always vote her the ugliest woman of the year. It was absolutely vile and the general public lapped it up.

Flash forward a few years and so many people are patting themselves on the back for buying Adele’s album 21, as apparentl that proves that they don’t care about a female singers looks? I’d see so many articles about how Adele will stop people caring about women’s looks which just made me bitter.

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=8&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CD8QFjAH&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.christianpost.com%2Fnews%2Fadele-could-change-sexualized-music-industry-label-boss-50679%2F&ei=f3ENVY_BKqi07Qapn4CAAw&usg=AFQjCNE-JWLpNC3FAYGOKOhaE6I2tIat8A&sig2=xCLZFqidMMfPiX1vK8-G3A&bvm=bv.88528373,d.ZGU

Yeah great except what about the woman who came a few years earlier who was a massive success all over the world, broke records and not only didn’t use her looks but had to endure far worse hardship for her appearance than virtually anyone!

What about her!

Of course none of this is Adele’s fault. Indeed far from it Adele has given Amy Winehouse credit for paving the way for her that and other ways since the very beginning of her career. Here is an interview with Adele right at the beginning of her career long before 21 was released where she credits her success to Amy.

http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20263024,00.html

So obviously its not Adele’s fault, but you can understand how it might be a bit annoying for Amy fans to have to listen to countless remarks about how she is physically repulsive, and then see people pat themselves on the backs for not caring about a woman’s looks, simply because they bought 21!

At the same time from an Adele fans perspective in all fairness, it could get a little annoying to see people constantly mention how if it weren’t for Amy, then Adele wouldn’t be as successful as she is.

There is no denying that Amy Winehouse paved the way for Adele and was an influence on her. Adele has said it many times.

However ultimately its still a bit much to act as though Adele’s success is entirely down to Amy. Yes Amy inspired her, but Adele’s accomplishments are ultimately her own. Are we going to constantly mention Frank Sinatra every time we want to take about Amy. He was her biggest influence. She even named her debut album after him “Frank”.

I think that when it comes to female singers who didn’t use their looks to sell music in the modern age, it should always be Amy that is mentioned as she was the one who endured the most abuse for it. However when it comes to Adele’s other fabulous accomplishments, I think it can be very demeaning to Adele to mention Amy Winehouse all the time as though these are only happening because of her, rather than because of Adele’s own remarkable talents.

Again it would be wrong to blame Amy for this as Amy certainly never acted as though she had paved the way for every female performer who came after. In fact according to her friend Lily Allen, Amy would always laugh whenever people compared a new female performer to her, just because they were a woman.

If I were to say who I feel is the better of the two singers then obviously it would be Amy. I have only recently gotten into Adele, and though I very much like what I heard, I am too big an Amy fan to really have anybody replace her.

Not that Adele needs to of course I can still be a huge fan of both as many people are.

If I were to look at them objectively then I’d say that Adele is much better at power ballads than Amy is. Both as a singer and as a songwriter, Adele is just better suited to big power ballads like “Rolling in the Deep”. She’s probably the best torch singer of the past 20 years in my opinion.

Amy meanwhile I think has a much wider range than Adele. Amy really could cover far more emotions in her voice than Adele. She could make us laugh with songs like “Cherry” and cry with haunting songs like “Wake Up Alone”.

Adele meanwhile, I feel her voice is too big and too emotional for a light breezy song like “Cherry” “Amy, Amy, Amy” or even “Valerie. Amy on the other hand, I think whilst also having a large, powerful voice could bring hers down a bit and make it more quiet and understated. She was ultimately far more versatile a singer than Adele.

Also it goes without saying that Amy Winehouse’s lyrics and voice were a lot darker, and grittier.

You’d never get a song like “You Know I’m No Good” or even “Tears Dry on Their Own” on “21”. Ironically “Tears Dry on Their Own” could be seen as the opposite to many of Adele’s breakup songs as it is about the person having the affair.

In some ways Amy is better and in some Adele is better. It all depends on taste really. I much prefer the more quite understated emotion of say “Love is Losing Game”, but I can understand someone having a preference for the raw power of say “Turning Tables”.

You can see the differences between their voices there. Adele’s is smoother and louder, Amy’s is meanwhile quieter, more understated yet with a bit more grit in it.

Trying to say whose voice is stronger is like trying to say who is better between Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday. On the one hand Billie’s voice like Amy’s had more of an edge to it, but on the other Aretha’s was better for big power ballads such as “Think” much like Adele.

Really its all just a matter of taste, but I think those comparisons are valid. To an extent Amy could be seen as the modern day Billie Holiday and Adele as the modern Aretha.

Another key difference in Amy and Adele’s music is that Amy I think does have a more vintage, old fashioned feel to her than Adele. Adele definitely sounds more modern. Adele herself even commented on this stating that she feels that she is more contemporary than Amy.

As for both ladies place in popular culture.

Well I’d say that Amy is by far and away the more iconic of the two of them. In all fairness its not just because of her music, but everything really. Her appearance is far more distinctive. You’d instantly recognize a cartoon of Amy. or an impression of her of someone dressed up as her for Halloween.

With Adele however what could you do as a caricature of her?  Ironically if you were to try and parody Adele and gave someone a beehive and a cockney accent they’d probably think it was Amy instead!

Also Amy’s tragic life has naturally made her enter into popular culture more too. Its morbid but I think people tend to have a fascination with artists who have a more tragic life. Its a cliche, but its true people often tend to see artists as sad, misunderstood figures.

Amy’s tragic and untimely death has also made her more iconic too. I am not saying for one second that Amy is only remembered or is only celebrated because she died young.

People always go too far with that and its annoying. Prior to her death Amy sold millions and millions of albums. Like I said she broke records set by the Beatles, she won countless awards (5 grammy’s in a single night then more than any other artist had ever won) and the likes of Adele and Lady Gaga the two biggest artists on the planet (apart from Amy herself) during her lifetime both regularly cited her as their main influence.

However obviously it cannot be denied that when any artist dies then they are put on a pedestal to some extent. Again its morbid but the media loves nothing more than a dead hero, particularly a dead young hero like Amy.

Also Amy Winehouse it must be said has been far more influential than Adele. Amy WInehouse paved the way for not only Adele herself, but also for the likes of Lady Gaga, Jessie J etc. Just about every female performer has cited Amy as an influence in some way. Even plenty of male performers too such as Bruno Mars and Sam Smith.

Even though she only passed away less than 5 years ago, Amy already feels like one of the greats that’s always been there.

Adele meanwhile whilst not as iconic as Amy I think is more accessible to people than Amy is. Its no doubt due to her clean cut image. Amy Winehouse I think was probably too unconventional for a lot of people with her attitude where as Adele feels a lot more acceptable unconventional.

Due to her accessibility I think you are far more likely to hear Adele songs on the radio or on the tv than Amy songs. People are not going be willing to play “Fuck me Pumps” by Amy Winehouse for instance on a tv show during the day!

I think its fair to say your average person would probably know more songs by Adele than Amy. Your average person whose not a fan would definitely know songs by both, but I think there are far more Adele songs that are better known than Amy songs.

Adele’s more clean cut image I think also allows her to be seen as a positive role model to young girls too which has obviously only further helped with her popularity. Adele is seen by many as inspirational due to not conforming to the stereotypical image of a female popstar.

As you can see both ladies have firmly entered into popular culture in different ways. Both have their similarities sure, but there a number of key differences between their voices and styles.

Ultimately both have made their mark on the music industry and I am no doubt whatsoever that their music will stand the test of time.

Fans can debate forever about who is the superior one, but ultimately I think that in 50 years people will still be crying to tracks from 21 and Back to Black.

The only thing to say really about the relationship between Amy Winehouse and Adele is that its a shame considering their strong friendship that the two never got a chance to record together.

I think their voices would have worked well together because their voices were so different. Sadly however that can never happen, but fans of both singers can at least take solace in the fact that the two not only had a great respect for each other as artists, but had a great love for one another as people too.

Amy Winehouse and Paloma Faith

Amy Winehouse and Paloma Faith are two of the most popular artists the UK has produced in the last 30 years.

Both are soul singers whose work has a more vintage 60’s, retro sound, yet at the same times also has a real modern feel to it as well.

They both draw on similar influences such as Dinah Washington, Aretha Franklin and Etta James in particular.

Finally both also dress in somewhat over the top clothes and have a more eccentric, striking overall look than your average pop princess.

Not surprisingly as a result of all of this many people have compared Paloma Faith to Amy Winehouse from practically the beginning of Paloma’s career to the present.

Here’s an article taken from round about the time Paloma’s first album was released way back in 2009

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=15&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CGcQFjAO&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ew.com%2Farticle%2F2009%2F10%2F23%2Fpaloma-faith-new-york&ei=jJcMVfqRD-HW7AaWqIAg&usg=AFQjCNHiA8NBsOuqtGO0SxQ8icWok4sk0Q&sig2=dQXeOUausSQi0NXuXhWOWA&bvm=bv.89060397,d.ZGU

Here’s one from just a few weeks ago!

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CC4QFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fmusic%2F2015%2Fmar%2F13%2Fpaloma-faith-review&ei=xJcMVePBKqWG7QauiICIAw&usg=AFQjCNHKRp0tnN2H9KCkdHbRxqBnWbsbqg&sig2=RrwpyYexybYByB5dTOCbFQ&bvm=bv.89060397,d.ZGU

However are these comparisons really valid? Why are these two artists always mentioned together and what did they think of one another?

Well that is what I am going to explore in this article.

Paloma Faith has often spoken highly of Amy Winehouse.

In a 2012 interview when Paloma first starting getting attention in America she was quick to remind the interviewer that it was Amy Winehouse not Adele who had paved the way for British singers in America in the late 00’s early 2010’s.

Paloma was also among those who paid tribute to Amy after her tragic passing in 2011.

“When she opened her mouth to sing it was like the heavens opened, the voice of a bygone era, and in it was contained all the sadness and heartache of all the world, and that was what sounded so beautiful. She was so tragically beautiful.

Such a great loss for her family, her friends and her listeners.

I think its important that people don’t romanticize what happened to her, it is a warning to all of us. The truth is Amy would have been better off alive, not forever young like so many of the greats.

She paved the way for me and others like me and her legacy will live on, timeless and infinite all at the same time. I am so moved and so grateful for what she contributed to our generation of music and only sad she wont be around to do more.

Rest in peace.

 Paloma Faith’s tribute to Amy Winehouse in 2011 after her death.

Paloma has also supported the Amy WInehouse Foundation that her father founded not long after her death. She even attended the annual Amy Winehouse Foundation ball in 2012.

Paloma at the Amy Winehouse foundation ball in 2012.

However surprisingly despite this Paloma and Amy had no relationship whatsoever. Indeed the two only met once according to Paloma.

Paloma says they met many years ago before Paloma became famous and before the release of “Back to Black”. Amy actually asked Paloma to join her band, but Paloma turned her down. Though there appear to be contradictory accounts online about their meeting. According to some Paloma turned down the offer to join Amy’s band as she wanted to pursue her own solo career, whilst others have stated that Amy turned her down because Paloma could not play an instrument. According to this version of events Amy had been impressed with Paloma’s performance and wanted her in her band, but she did not need another singer and thus when she found out Paloma couldn’t play an instrument she changed her mind. Apparently when Paloma said she couldn’t play an instrument Amy just simply said “bugger” and wandered off.

I am not sure which story is true. I’ve seen both written many times. Paloma discusses the one time she met Amy here, but she doesn’t really elaborate on it. She simply describes Amy as charismatic and “not someone you’d forget.”

Thus the two had no relationship whatsoever though interestingly enough Paloma appears to have had a strong friendship with Amy’s god daughter Dionne Bromfield

Both were also very good friends with Adele, but ultimately the two evidently did not know each other, but still nevertheless thought greatly of one another’s talents as evidenced by Paloma’s moving tribute of Amy and the fact that Amy wanted Paloma to actually join her band.

However these two are still practically always mentioned together? Paloma also didn’t really emerge until after Amy’s career had come to a finish. Paloma only released one album before Amy’s tragic death and it was in 2009. Sadly Amy due to her problems never released a full album after her masterpiece “Back to Black”. Thus Amy and Paloma were never even really contemporaries.

Well I think the reason that people tend to draw comparisons between Amy and Paloma more than between Paloma and other popular soul singers like say her friend Adele or Emeli Sande is because both Amy and Paloma tend to evoke a more old fashioned sound.

I think that the likes of say Adele or Emeli Sande or Florence Welch’s music tends to have a much more modern sound to it than either Amy or Paloma.

There are so many Amy and Paloma songs that really do sound like they could be from the 50’s or 60’s.

As I have mentioned before “Love is a Losing Game” is the type of song that you could imagine Nat King Cole or Etta James singing and they would have been able to do really good versions of it too.

Similarly “New York” by Paloma Faith is the type of song that you could easily imagine Dinah Washington or Billie Holiday singing.

That’s the great thing about Amy and Paloma songs is that often you think “I’m sure I’ve heard Dinah or Etta sing that”. Of course Amy Winehouse and Paloma Faith have tried their hand at some of the classics like “No Greater Love” but still you know what I mean. Songs like “New York” and “Love is a Losing Game” feel like they’ve always been here. You are genuinely shocked the first time you hear them to see that they are not only modern but were written by someone so young as well.

I don’t think you really get that same feeling from many other artists. With Adele for instance you’d always think her songs were modern. That’s not to say she is a worse singer or songwriter, just that she doesn’t evoke quite the same old sound that Amy and Paloma do and I think that’s the real reason that Amy and Paloma are often mentioned side by side.

They both in many ways feel like people out of time. This can even be seen in their appearances with Amy’s look in particular obviously evoking that of 60’s girl groups such as “The Ronnettes”.

As Paloma said of Amy her voice truly was from a bygone era, but ironically so is Paloma’s. Though again this is not to say that their songs can’t have a modern feel to them to, but that’s the point they both manage to mix a lot of old and modern styles together to create something new.

I also think that Paloma and Amy have perhaps a wider range than many of their contemporaries too. Both can sing songs with an unbelievable emotional content, but both can apply their voices to lighter, more upbeat tracks too such as “Amy, Amy, Amy” and “Upside Down”.

Again many other singers can only cope with one type of song. Like Adele for instance I don’t think can really apply her voices to lighter songs. Her voice is just too big and heavy for a jolly little track like “Upside Down”. On the flipside meanwhile there are obviously very few singers who would have the depth to cope with a song like “Love is a Losing Game”.

However at the same time whilst there are similarities in Amy and Paloma’s sound there are some key differences and its important to acknowledge that. I think that for a long while the comparisons to Amy actually hurt Paloma’s reputation.

All a lot of people ever saw her as was just a carbon copy of Amy Winehouse which is completely unfair.

Whilst it’s obviously a great honor to be compared to an artist of Amy’s caliber, understanbly Paloma would want to be seen as an artist in her own right.

I’d say that Amy’s work has a greater emotional content than Paloma’s. Paloma’s has a great emotional content too, but I think Amy’s is ultimately stronger.

I think its because Amy’s songs are a little darker and grittier than Paloma’s. Whilst Paloma may sing powerful songs that we can relate to like “Black and Blue” Amy’s work covers subjects like men and women having affairs, depression, self harming, alcoholism and drug addiction.

These lyrics coupled with Amy’s somewhat deeper, more rasping, smokey voice I think often help Amy’s songs pack more of a punch than Paloma’s.

Compare the two below and you will see that Amy definitely has more of an edge to her.

I think Amy’s lyrics are edgier simply because she lived that kind of a life. She did have experiences with addiction to both alcohol and illegal drugs, self harming, she had affairs, she suffered from depression. Thus her work reflected that obviously more than Paloma and most other artists.

At the same time however I think its worth noting that Paloma’s work is far more imaginative than Amy’s.

Paloma’s lyrics tend to reflect her more extreme, over the top, fabulous imagination. They tend to conjour up very vivid and fantastical imagery, like something you’d expect to see in a fairy tale.

I think its Paloma’s gigantic imagination that really helps her stand out not just from Amy but from all of her contemporaries.

Thus whilst Amy’s lyrics may be darker and grittier, Paloma’s are definitely more surreal and offbeat and whimsical.

If you were to ask me who I prefer overall then I’d have to say Amy. Amy Winehouse’s music ultimately is more special to me and I think it had a bigger impact on me as a person, but Paloma is still one of my all time favorite artists.

Whilst Paloma may have suffered from the Amy comparisons at first, ultimately she has proven to be a very successful artist in her own right.

Each one of her albums has been bigger than the previous one and now having recently scooped up a Brit Award it seems Paloma’s going to be around for a long time yet.

Though there will always probably be comparisons between Paloma and Amy I now think they have reached the stage where they can be taken as compliments.

Certainly no one can say that Paloma a carbon copy of Amy now. I think the comparisons will always endure simply because of the two artists more old 60’s sound, wide range and also their eccentric personalities. However like I said I think that the comparisons will be more complimentary from now on rather than just being used to dismiss Paloma as an inferior copy of someone else. Paloma has certainly proven to be a unique and interesting singer song writer in her own right.

Top 10 British Female Singers of the 21st Century

in my opinion at least.

Now I am aware that it can get annoying when people group so many different female artists together simply because they are women. As Adele herself said female singer is not a genre and neither for that matter is British singer.

However having said that I think it is important to acknowledge how successful both female and British singers are nowadays. We are currently in the middle of what is being called a “Third British Invasion”  and though there are many boybands that are enjoying international success such as One Direction. I think its fair to say that the most successful and influential British artists of the past 20 years have been female like Adele, Susan Boyle and the late great Amy Winehouse, who is often credited with kick starting the third British invasion, much like how the Beatles kick started the first British invasion back in the 1960s.

In many ways we are living in the golden age of the British Female singer and thus in this list I will be looking at my ten favourite contemporary British Female singers. All opinions are of course my own and as always tell me what you think in the comments below.

10/ Dionne Bromfield

Now not many people have a lot of time for Dionne Bromfield sadly as they are often quick to dismiss her as having only got signed because she is the god daughter of the late soul singer Amy Winehouse. However whilst it is true that she obviously did have an advantage that way do not think that means she is not talented. Her two albums “Introducing Dionne Bromfield” and “Good for the soul” are both excellent and she has demonstrated a remarkable talent as both a singer and a songwriter. One of her latest efforts “Black Butterfly” (scheduled for release on her next album) is a truly moving and beautiful tribute to her late god mother. Its hard to believe she could have such talent at such a young age.

Sadly whilst Dionne does have a loyal following whom she has christened her “Dionettes” none of her albums have been successful. I think her age has been her biggest problem even more so than the claims of nepotism. Dionne’s music is different to that of your typical teenage pop stars like Justin Bieber, Willow Smith and Cher Lloyd. Its less mainstream, more old fashioned. Not many teenagers are going to be interested in hearing covers of Aretha Franklin sadly .

However at the same time the older crowd probably are not going to take her seriously either as the idea of a thirteen year old soul singer does sound a bit daft at first even though Dionne has as strong a voice as any one. Its a shame as Dionne is more talented than Cher Lloyd, Justin Bieber, The Wanted and Willow Smith combined, she just hasn’t found the right audience yet. Hopefully as she gets older this wont be a problem.  Dionne Bromfield definitely deserves more recognition she is a very special talent and its not hard to see why Amy thought so much of her.

Best songs

 

9/ Duffy

Sadly as of the writing of this article Duffy appears to have vanished off the radar. Her second album “Endlessley” was a critical and commercial flop. Still her first album “Rockferry” is definitely a modern day classic. There’s not a bad track on the album and the best tunes are instantly recognizable like “Mercy”, “Rockferry” and “Warwick Avenue”. Whilst the sexy, upbeat “Mercy” is definitely Duffy’s most famous song. I find her more sombre efforts to be the most effective. I think there is a real genuine sorrow in Duffy’s voice that is greater than many of her contemporaries as she has had a somewhat more difficult life.

I  think Duffy from the beginning suffered from comparisons to others particularly Amy Winehouse. To be fair every female singer of the past almost ten years has been compared to Amy Winehouse but I  think it hurt Duffy more than say Adele or Paloma Faith as Duffy seemingly was unable to escape from under Amy’s shadow. Hopefully she’ll stage a comeback soon as even though her second album was a failure she is still very young. She just needs more songs like “Warwick Avenue” and less like “Well, Well, Well”.

Best Songs

 

8/ V V Brown

V V Brown is a very overlooked artist in my opinion. Both of her albums have been very different from one another and very fresh and orginal. She has her own unique style and her lyrics are both very imaginative and fun. I just can’t figure out why she hasn’t made it really big yet. She has everything going for her. She’s a brilliant live performer, she writes her own material and she is absolutely stunningly beautiful too. Whatever the case though she will always be one of my favourites and hopefully one day she will get her due.

Best Songs

 

7/ Emeli Sande

Scottish singer Emeli Sande has proven to be one of the most successful British artists of recent times. Just as famous for her songwriting as her singing Sande begun her career penning hits for other artists before launching a career of her own. Though her talents as a songwriter are undeniable what really scores her so highly on my list is her talent as a live performer. I think she could be the best live performer on this list. Her performance at the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony stole the show for me it was absolutely breath taking.

Best Songs

 

6/ Lily Allen

Lily Allen doesn’t seem to be too popular these days. I think she was always quite a polarizing figure as she was often quite bitchy about other celebrities like Cheryl Cole (though anyone who rips on Cheryl Cole is fine by me) added to that much like Dionne Bromfield many people I think often assume that she has only made it because of her famous relative her father Keith Allen. Though ironically now I think more people would tend to think of Keith Allen as Lily’s dad. Still for me Lily Allen is truly one of the best artists of her generation and she is probably the most influential after Amy Winehouse. Lily’s songs may not be quite as deep and meaningful as say Adele, but one can’t help but be won over by her wicked, cheeky sense of humour.

She is able to write songs about the most unlikely things like premature ejaculation, and still make them catchy. Lily’s voice is very sweet and innocent sounding which often contrasts wonderfully with her lyrics. I don’t think Lily has quite the range of some of the other artists on this list, but she is nevertheless still fantastic at what she does and I think there is a lot of milleage in what she does too. Personally I have enjoyed all 3 of her albums and whilst there may be something of a backlash against Lily right now her latest album “Sheezus” still made it to the top of the charts.  I think she has a strong enough fanbase to enjoy a successful career for many more years to come.

Best Songs

 

5/ Adele

Related image

Okay now I must admit I am very much a latecomer to Adele’s music. Hipster that I am I avoided her for so long because of how overhyped and overplayed she was. I must admit even today I do still find Adele to be horribly overrated.  I feel that people often give her credit for things that she doesn’t deserve. For instance everyone gives her credit for being a female performer who doesn’t use her looks to sell music, but she is not the only and certainly not the first female performer of even her generation to do that.

Amy Winehouse alone never did and she received far worse abuse for her looks than Adele ever did (not that its a competition, but its worth remembering all of these people who go nuts every time Adele’s weight is made fun of were curiously silent whenever Amy was called much worse). Still despite this it cannot be denied that Adele is a very special talent. She has demonstrated an incredible maturity for  someone so young in both her lyrics and voice and has written songs that so many people can relate too. Whilst she doesn’t have the widest range as a vocalist she more than makes up for it with the power her voice has. She is probably the best torch singer of the past 30 years and has enjoyed unbelievable commercial and critical success having broken records set by Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and even the Beatles themselves. Its doubtless that Adele will be with us for decades to come and go down as one of the all time greatest artists of her generation.

Best Songs

 

4/ Florence Welch

Image result for florence welch

Florence Welch of the band Florence and the Machine is a strikingly beautiful, alluring one in 7 billion performer. Her voice has a somewhat more operatic quality to it when compared to many of her contemporaries. He songs meanwhile tend to cover unusual topics ranging from disembowelment to drowning to madness to domestic abuse to werewolves tearing people’s flesh off. One of her songs “the Bird Song” is about a woman who commits a murder only for a parrot to see it, and then repeat the dying man’s screams. The women then takes the parrot inside and breaks its neck, but ends up repeating her victims screams herself everywhere she goes, eventually leading to her being caught.

It reads like an Edgar Allan Poe story. I could easily imagine Vincent Price playing the role of the murderer in the bird song. The fact that Florence sings about such unusual, disturbing subjects is what makes her stand out so much. Many have compared her to Kate Bush and whilst its obvious that Bush is a huge influence on her, Florence’s material is ultimately far darker. Though there has been some controversy over the darker content of many of her songs with some accusing “Kiss with a Fist” of promting domestic abuse ultimately Florence Welch has proven herself as one of Britain’s most successful artists around the world.

Best Songs

 

3/ Shingai Shoniwa

Shingai Shoniwa is the lead singer of the Noisettes. Her voice is strong but sweet at the same time much like Dina Washington and she is a very eccentric, offbeat yet charismatic performer. So far the Noisettes have had an inconsistent career. Their first album was a commercial flop, but their second was a monster hit and produced a number of hit singles including the masterpiece “Don’t Upset the Rhythm” Sadly however their latest album “Contact” was another flop which was a shame as not ony was it a great album, but it felt like the Noisettes’s career was ready to go into the stratosphere. You should definitely check out the Noisettes three albums. There is a lot of variety among them indeed you’ actually be hard pushed to find 3 more different albums.

Best Songs

I’ve always loved That Girl in particular because it has a real Beatles vibe to it. Everything about it, its lyrics, its style, even the way its sung it really does sound like a 21st Century Beatles track.

2/Paloma Faith

Paloma Faith narrowly misses out on being my favorite female performer of the 21st century. I could spend days and days going on about how much I love Paloma, but I’ll try and keep this short. What makes Paloma such a favourite of mine is how imaginative her work is. Her lyrics often conjor up beautiful, vivid, fantastical imagery. Her massive, eccentric imagination encompasses everything she does particularly how she dresses. There truly is no one like Paloma and her star has only continued to rise over the past few years with three hugely successful albums under her belt the future looks very good for ms Faith indeed.

Best Songs

 

1/Amy Winehouse

Yeah I know a fairly obvious choice considering my other article “10 reasons to admire Amy Winehouse”, but still for me Amy has to stand head and beehive above the rest. Amy is really the British female artist of the 21st century. All of the others in this list look up to her and credit her with paving the way for them, indeed all of them would agree that she is the best. Amy was the British artist who paved the way for all of the others in this generation to make it big abroad particularly in America. She also helped to revitalize soul music and the stagnated British music scene.

Though she only released two albums before her tragic and untimely death the impact she made with those two albums was immense and the quality of those two albums is enough to propel her to the status of legend easy. Winehouse had the greatest range of any vocalist or songwriter on this list. She could sing songs like “Amy, Amy, Amy” that were light hearted, fun, sexy songs, songs like “Stronger than Me” that were scathing, funny and cutting, songs like “You Know I’m No Good” that were dark and edgy and songs like “Love is a Losing Game” that were genuinely heartbreaking and moving. Forget “Rolling in the Deep” “Love is a Losing Game” is the greatest break up song ever made for me. It sums up the awful feelings of regret you have when your heart is broken to the point where you wished you had never fallen in love in the first place. As I have said before “Love is a Losing Game” is a song that you can imagine had it been released in the 1960’s everyone from Nat King Cole to Billie Holiday to Frank Sinatra would have covered it  and they all would have been able to do a really good version of it too because it is just such a fantastic song lyrically.

Sadly Winehouse is no longer with us, but her legacy lives on in virtually every major British female singer from Adele to Jessie J to Paloma Faith and many other female singers around the world including Lady Gaga and Lana Del Rey who have both cited her as a huge influence. She will never be forgotten and will always be one of my all time favourite artists.

Best Songs

 

 

 

10 Reasons to Admire Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse was one of Britain’s greatest ever artists. Though her career was short, she nevertheless managed to make an immeasurably huge impact on the music industry. Not only did she revitalize soul music, but she also paved the way for both female and British artists to enjoy immense success abroad for the first time in decades.

Though she tragically passed away at the age of just 27 years old in 2011, her legacy still lives on through her music, her fans and the Amy Winehouse Foundation, which her father founded in 2011.

In this list I have compiled what I believe are the main 10 reasons to admire Miss Winehouse, both as an artist and as a person. Obviously I am not going to deny that Amy Winehouse had her fair share of controversies and problems. But she still did many incredible things with her short life. During her lifetime the press rarely reported anything positive about her. After her death of course the opposite was true, and Amy Winehouse became the 21st century version of Princess Diana in their eyes. This article however will instead look at what it was she actually did that was admirable and, ultimately made her one of the most celebrated artists of her generation.

10/ She tried to better herself 

Contrary to what many believe Amy Winehouse was not someone who glorified and encouraged drug abuse.

Her songs actually often showed the darker side to the Rock and Roll lifestyle more than most. “You Know I’m No Good” depicts someone who leads that kind of life, as a miserable, depressed no hoper, who ruins everything for herself, and everyone around her.

“Rehab” far from telling people not to go to rehab because drinking and partying is fun, depicts someone who drinks because they have nothing else in their lives, no spouse, no job, no friends and has fallen into a rut. “I don’t ever want to drink again. I just need a friend.”

More importantly however Amy Winehouse also did attempt to conquer her addictions as well. She actually managed to overcome her addictions to drugs, and was clean from them for 3 whole years before her death. Sadly however she was never able to overcome he addiction to alcohol. Though again she did make attempts to do so, and had even been clean for several weeks before her death. Ultimately it was a relapse back into alcoholism that took her life in 2011.

Many people often see Amy Winehouse as someone who didn’t care about her life and would have always have ended up with her tragic fate. I don’t. I think she was someone who yes made mistakes, but tried her best to overcome them.

Someone who had managed to overcome several addictions already, and was in the process of conquering another, does not strike me as someone who no longer cared for life. I think it could have ended very differently for Amy Winehouse.

Her death was an accident remember, not suicide.

I think that had she lived she would have put them behind her, and would have had a very happy life. And for those who say “she should have gone to rehab” she did several times, it was a relapse that killed her which can still happen even if you have had treatment, hell a relapse by its very nature can only happen if you have bettered yourself.

9/ She did not conform

Adele is often the one who gets all of the credit for this. People will often go on about fabulous Adele is because she never uses her looks to sell music, doesn’t have a sexualised image, relies only on her voice and doesn’t dance around on stage, so therefore she doesn’t conform to what women in music should look like and behave like. Thing is Amy Winehouse did all of this about five years before Adele.

Amy Winehouse never used her looks to sell music. She never had a sexualized image, and she never danced around in her videos, and relied only on her voice.

People praised Adele for doing just a video about her sitting on a chair “Rolling in the Deep” and doing another in black and white “Someone Like You”. Again however Amy Winehouse did a video that was just her sitting down “Rehab” and another that was in black and white “Back to Black” years earlier.

Amy Winehouse was not your conventional female pop star in any way shape or form. She not only never used her looks, but she also made herself look even more unconventional. She dressed in style’s that were last popular in the 1960’s. Even when her label were telling her not to, and she didn’t care. That was how she wanted to dress, so she did it.

I might add as well that when Amy Winehouse was around there were not as many female performers around who relied solely on their voices. After Amy there were scores of them, Duffy, Susan Boyle, Florence Welch, Emeli Sande and of course Adele herself.

Amy Winehouse also endured far more abuse for her appearance than Adele ever did as well. I am not trying to turn it into a competition or anything but it did make me a bit bitter a few years later to see many of the same media outlets that savaged Amy for her appearance, fawn over and kiss Adele’s ass for not using her looks and conforming. Take a look at these two vids from the Young Turks to see what I mean.

The irony surely can’t be lost on Ana and Cenk.?

However even with the media against her, Winehouse not only still managed to sell more with one album than many of her more conventional female contemporaries were with several. But her look also became arguably the most iconic of any pop star from her generation. Even more so than Adele’s.

I certainly am not saying that Amy was the first non sexualized female performer, and I also don’t think there is anything wrong with sexualized female performers. Its good to have a wide range of male and female performers, however I think its true to say that when Amy emerged, female and male performers who relied solely on their voice, rather than their flashy image were not as popular.

It was simply because that was the fad at the time. Amy however made it trendy again, for more old school singers, who didn’t have to dance around in flashy videos, such as Adele and Sam Smith to enjoy mainstream success.

Sadly however the mainstream media, and people like The Young Turks (who are the most vicious when it comes to judging a woman’s looks), will never give her credit for it, as ironically she is too unconventional for them. Still at the very least artists like Adele herself, have always credited Amy for helping to pave the way for them.

8/ She won the respect of many of the most prominent artists 

Throughout her career Amy Winehouse made many famous fans. Among them included The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Paul McCartney (who named her in 2008 as the person he wanted to sing the latest Bond theme), Ringo Starr (who also stood up for her when Natalie Cole criticised Winehouse for winning five Grammy’s, whilst suffering from her drug addiction claiming it was setting a bad example. Ringo simply said “that’s some real sour grapes”), Debbie Harry, Alice Cooper, Ronnie Spector, George Michael (who also referred to her as the most talented songwriter he had ever seen in his entire career!), Tom Jones, Quincy Jones, Tony Bennett, Dave Grohl. Roger Dahltry (who referred to her voice as being one of the greats like Freddie Mercury and Etta James that you would instantly recognise), Brian May (who referred to her as a modern day musical legend),  Annie Lennox, Bette Midler, Beyonce, and of course many of the modern day prominent artists that she inspired such as Adele, Lady Gaga, Paloma Faith and Emeli Sande.

Now before you say that these people only praised her after her death, I can assure you that is not the case, and I will provide sources for what I am saying at the end of the article.

Amy Winehouse actually had offers to work with many of these artists. Sadly however her problems prevented her from doing so. I will say that I think this is one area where Amy Winehouse’s problems were worse than other troubled artists, in that they actually prevented her from making more music. I think she was like Vivian Stanshall, the late front man of “The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band” in this respect.

Others like John Lennon, Jim Morrison and Alice Cooper were still able to produce great music even in some of their darkest days, but the likes of Winehouse and Stanshall were evidently completely consumed by their troubles.

Amy Winehouse had offers to work with George Michael, Debbie Harry, Stevie Wonder and Eminem all of which she had to turn down because of her addictions. Though fortunately she was able to collaborate with the Rolling Stones, Quincy Jones and most memorably Tony Bennett. Sadly she could have done so much more.

Still the fact that so many artists from so many different back grounds and generations. Literally everyone from The Beatles to Beyonce were fans of her, speaks volumes about her talent that she could appeal to so many different and influential artists to the point where they wanted to work with her.

7/ Her songs have been covered by many other artists

Sort of a continuation from the previous point Amy Winehouse’s songs have been covered by other prominent singers. Many people have dismissed Amy Winehouse as someone who only had a great voice, but she was also lets not forget a fabulous songwriter too and many other highly successful singers have covered her songs as a result. George Michael, Caro Emerald, Elbow and Eddi Reader have all covered “Love is a Losing Game”, Ronnie Spector, Beyonce, Florence Welch and Brian Ferry have all covered Back to Black,  Fergie, Chris Martin and Paulo Nutini covered Rehab. That’s the great thing about Amy Winehouse’s music is that you can often listen to about four different versions of the one song by several different prominent artists. Of course in all occasions, I would say that Amy Winehouse’s versions are the best. Its one thing to sing a song really well, but to write one that others would be interested in singing I think takes a very special kind of talent.

6/  She was very charitable

This side of Amy Winehouse was one that we never heard about it the papers or the media, but still nevertheless Amy Winehouse was an incredibly generous and charitable person by absolutely all accounts.

In fact she was even known as a “soft touch”.  Among the charities that Winehouse donated her time, money and music too generously include the following “Adopt A Minelfield”, “Anti Slavery International”, “Breast Cancer Campaign”, “CARE (relief agency)”, “Children of the Andes”,  “Children’s Medical Research Institute”, “Christian Children’s Fund”, “City at Peace”, “Comic Relief”, “Great Ormond Street Hospital”,  “Greenpeace”, “Healthlink Worldwide”, “Hear the World”, “Heifer International”, “Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen”, “The Red Cross”,  “LIFEbeat”, “Lifeline and rape crisis PMB”, “Opportunity International”, “Oxfam, rights and humanity”, “Save the Children”, “Save the Music Foundation”, “ST Jude Children’s Research Hospital”, “Teenage Cancer Trust”, “Christina Noble Children’s Foundations”, “Little Dreams Foundation”, “Lotus Outreach”, “Nelson Mandela Childrens Fund”, “UNHCR”, “UNICEF”, “V-Day”, “Water Aid” and “World Neighbours”.

She also once paid for the life saving surgery of a man in St Lucia named Jean De Baptiste. He said “It cost a fortune and Amy paid for the whole thing. Her generosity gave me my life back”.

Her father inspired by his daughters generosity would later set up the Amy Winehouse Foundation  after her passing.

5/ She supported other artists

Amy Winehouse set up her own record label in 2009 and helped to launch the careers of many young artists. Most notably her god daughter Dionne Bromfield who to date has produced two albums with a third one planned. She also supported her backing singer Zalon as well as other singers such as Liam Bailey and Neon Hitch who was not signed to her label but nevertheless credits her with helping her in the early years of her career.

4/ She broke America

When Amy Winehouse first conquered the American charts, there were actually very few British artists around who were popular on an international level. In fact just a few years earlier there had been the fewest amount of British artists on the Billboard charts since before the Beatles emerged! That’s not to say there where none when Amy Winehouse first conquered America. Obviously there was Coldplay, James Blunt, Dido and Joss Stone, but none of these artists really lead to a movement. They were one offs and thus it was still a very, very difficult time for a British artist to make it stateside.

However Winehouse managed to have record breaking success in America. Her album Back to Black marked at that point the highest ever debut from a British female solo artist on the American charts.

It also won five Grammy awards, which at that point was more than any other British artist had won in a single night. Of course nowadays thanks to the success of Amy Winehouse, the door is open for British artists in America, but its worth remembering that back when Amy Winehouse started, it was probably the most difficult time to make it over there since the early 1960’s!

3/ She was honest

There was a real honesty to Amy that shone through all of her lyrics. She was someone who was not afraid to share anything about herself no matter how bad it may have made her look. This is most evident in songs such as “I heard love is blind” and “You Know I’m No Good” Winehouse never hid anything about herself, she was honest about whatever mistakes she had made and never pretended to be anything else.

2/ She was very influential on other artists

Amy Winehouse could very well be the most influential British artist of the past 20 years. Among those whom she inspired and paved the way for by their own admission include Adele, Lady Gaga, Jessie J, Paloma Faith, Rebecca Ferguson, Laura Mvula, Lana Del Rey, Florence Welch, Emeli Sandi, Sam Smith, Bruno Mars, Duffy, V V Brown, Estelle, Ellie Goulding even Tom Jones comeback album was inspired by Back to Black. Spin magazine editor Charles Aaron said that Amy Winehouse was the “Nirvana moment ”   for artists like Adele and Duffy and that “they could all be traced back to her in terms of musical attitude, styles and fashion”.  Amy Winehouse was influential in so many ways.

First of all it is true that she paved the way for British artists in America in the 21st century and kicked off what has been called “the third British invasion”. Billboard chart managed Keith Caulfield said that “because of Amy or the lack there of the market place was able to get singers like Duffy and Adele.”

Second she also paved the way for female artists to have more mainstream success as well. Both Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen are credited with kick starting what was ultimately referred to by the media as “the year of the women”  in 2009 which saw five female musicians nominated for the Mercury prize. Though again that’s not to say that there weren’t obviously popular female singers before Amy.

It was simply that solo female performers had fallen out of flavour at that point, particularly British female solo artists. Every type of singer or bad goes through its periods of popularity. At one point boy band’s where the most popular, but then they faded. Amy, I and many others feel, led to the revival of the popularity of solo female singers around the world.

Finally she also helped to revitalise soul music and helped to reintroduce it to mainstream audiences, not only in the United Kingdom, but in America too hence why the third British invasion has also been referred to as a ” British Soul Invasion”, or “the British, Female Soul Invasion”.

1/ Her Talent

Okay this is subjective, but what the hell. Amy Winehouse as far as I’m concerned was one of the most talented singer and songwriters of all time. Its important to remember her talents as both a singer and a song writer. As a singer she was equal to anyone of the greats. She had the emotional depth of the likes of Billie Holiday, Etta James and Nina Simone in her voice. Don’t believe me listen to “Love is a Losing Game” Amy’s masterpiece in my opinion.

On top of that she also had an incredible range in her voice. Many people often think of Amy Winehouse as only being capable of singing sad more downbeat songs, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Listen to Frank her first somewhat overlooked album and there are plenty of up beat humorous songs that can actually make you laugh such as “Cherry”, “Stronger than Me”, and “Amy, Amy, Amy”. Contrast this with heart breaking ballads like “Love is a Losing Game”, “Back to Black” or “Wake Up Alone” and you can get an idea of how versatile a singer she was.

There was simply no emotion her voice could not capture. I feel she was comparable to Freddie Mercury in this respect as he was one of the few other vocalists who could capture any emotion in his voice too. He could sing light hearted, silly fun songs like “Fat Bottomed Girls” and moving, poignant pieces like “These are the Days of Our Lives”. For this reason Amy Winehouse and Freddie Mercury have always been among my two favourite singers. Unlike Adele or Billie Holiday both of whom are obviously still excellent singers there is an Amy Winehouse and Freddie Mercury song for ever mood. Singers like Adele I feel can only cope with the sadder songs.

It wasn’t just in terms of emotional content Amy Winehouse was versatile. Her voice could also apply to many different genres too such as Jazz, Soul, RnB and even Reggae. If you doubt her versatility just look at the many different artists she inspired. Both Adele and Lady Gaga two artists who are literally the opposite of one another have both credited Amy Winehouse with paving the way for them.

Her talents as a songwriter meanwhile were just as strong. “Love is a Losing Game” in my opinion is the type of song that you can imagine, if it had been released in the 50’s or the 60’s everyone from Billie Holiday to Frank Sinatra to Nat King Cole to Dinah Washington would have sang and they all would have been able to do a great job of it because it is such a brilliant song.

The fact that Amy Winehouse was able to write songs that many other artists have wanted to sing and at the same time made other people’s songs her own like the Zutons “Valerie”, which the vast majority of people would think was an Amy Winehouse song, which is even more impressive when consider that the original was a massive hit too, shows how gifted she was as both a singer and a songwriter.

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