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Amy, Amy, Amy

July 29, 2011 - Jennifer Brookens
"I can't help you/If you won't help yourself."

Ironic words coming from a young Amy Winehouse, who died last week. Most people are probably just pushing her off into the category of another music star who did themselves in with too much drinking and drugs. This is true. But for music fans who took the time to listen to her outside of her protesting going to "Rehab," we realize once again we've had great talent wasted.

I couldn't stand the song "Rehab" when it came out. Then I came across the song "Love is a Losing Game." I got goosebumps the first time I heard it. I began searching for her other songs, and I was hooked. My favorites were from her first release "Frank," when she was only 19 or 20 years old. It has more of a jazzy feel, and along with some powerful ballads, there are sassy, even humorous tunes (like the song released as "Pumps," which rips on the stereotyped gold diggers on the bar scene). She changed her style on the critically acclaimed "Back to Black" release, with more of a '60s girl-group sound. The raw talent was still there, but you start to hear her being worn down, the drugs beginning to get the upper hand. The "Rehab" single, all about Winehouse thumbing her nose at getting treatment, is probably one of the lesser tracks on the CD.

"I cheated myself/Like I knew I would..." - from "You Know I'm No Good"

Sadly by the time she reached her peak, she was better known for being a drunken/stoned spectacle. She was in and out of the studio (along with being in and out of her hated Rehab) and rumor has it there is enough material that a third album could be released. But I shudder to think that it may just ruin a good musical catalog.

So other than tabloid fodder, what does she leave behind? Well, she brought back real voices to singing, instead of a bunch of slicky produced techno with some hot-pants babe disguising her one-note range behind auto-tune. I'm grateful we now have voices like Adele bringing back actual music talent to the radio. And if future pieces from Winehouse are released, let's hope they are from some of her more sober moments and not just more celebration of her destructive lifestyle.

Oh Amy, if only you could have helped yourself.


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