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

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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 so I have decided to compile a list of 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 she is often dismissed as having only been signed due to being the daughter of the late soul singer, Amy Winehouse. However whilst it is true that she obviously did have an advantage through Amy, 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. Dionne is more talented than Cher Lloyd, Justin Bieber, The Wanted and Willow Smith combined as far as I’m concerned. 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. 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 original overall. 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 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.

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). On top of 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

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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 didn’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. 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.

Amy was among the first of her 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 that were light hearted, fun, and sexy, like “Amy Amy Amy”, or songs that were scathing and funny like “Stronger Than Me”, or that were darker like You Know I’m No Good”. Finally she was also able sing songs that were genuinely heartbreaking and moving like Love is a Losing Game.

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