Photo: Rama/ Wikicommons
Amy Winehouse, the talented but troubled British singer, released only two full-length studio albums during her brief, brilliant career. Both Frank and Back to Black were acclaimed by critics and public alike, the latter becoming the second-best selling album of the 21st century in the U.K. After her death in July 2011 a compilation album – Lioness: Hidden Treasures – was released, giving the world a glimpse of what might have been.
Originally released by the English indie rock band The Zutons in 2006, this version was produced by Mark Ronson and featured on Version, an album of covers. It reached number 2 in the U.K. and was one of the biggest-selling singles of 2007.
9. Love is a Losing Game
Sometimes, when listening to Amy Winehouse, you feel like you could be listening to something recorded forty or fifty years ago. This is no more evident on Love is a Losing Game. This was the fifth and final track from Back to Black and therefore Amy Winehouse’s last single in her lifetime.
8. F*** Me Pumps
Since every song on Back to Black feels like a classic, it would be easy to forget about Frank, Winehouse’s first album, released in 2003. But to do so would be to miss out on fun tracks like this one. Written with hip-hop producer, Salaam Remi, the song is a playful ‘dig’ at gold-diggers who ‘can’t sit down right’ because their ‘jeans are too tight’.
7. In My Bed
This track is the other standout track from Frank. The beat comes from Nas’ ‘Made you Look’ with layers of brass and flutes giving it a sultry, soulful feel.
6. A Song For You
Featured on her posthumous album Lioness: Hidden Treasures, A Song for You is a gem. Originally released by Leon Russell in 1971, it has since been covered by the likes of Elton John, Beyoncé and Bon Iver. This version is not one of Winehouse’s most well known songs but it is one of her most beautiful. Perhaps more than any other song, it showcases her distinct contralto voice and soulful delivery of oddly prophetic lyrics: ‘And when my life is over / Remember / When we were together / And I was singing this song for you.’
5. Wake Up Alone
This song is available in two versions: the piano-driven final version on Back to Black or the more stripped-down original, thankfully included on Lioness: Hidden Treasures. Both versions are devastating: not least when she delivers lines such as: ‘I stay up, clean the house / At least I’m not drinking’.
4. You Know I’m No Good
The second single from Winehouse’s second album, this song encapsulates the singer’s paradoxes and ambiguities: the horns and saxophones are playful but as you listen to the lyrics – ‘I cried for you on the kitchen floor’ – a very different picture emerges. In 2007, this song was covered by the Arctic Monkeys and named song of the year by Entertainment Weekly.
Like much of Winehouse’s output, this track has become all the more poignant since her untimely death from alcohol poisoning at the age of 27. This autobiographical song – the first single from her second album – was her highest-ranking hit in the U.S and went on to win the Grammy for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. For many, this has become – and will remain – Amy Winehouse’s signature song.
2. Back To Black
Back to Black spawned five hit singles, and its title track was also the most critically acclaimed. It speaks of the heartbreak at being left for someone else: ‘I died a hundred times/You go back to her/And I go back to… black.’ The video, directed by Phil Griffin shows a funeral procession for the ‘heart of Amy Winehouse’.
1. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?
Although many people have covered the Carole King penned classic Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, this version – featured on the posthumously released Lioness: Hidden Treasures – slows down the tempo considerably from The Shirelles’ original. The jazz arrangement is stunning and the lyrics speak for themselves: ‘Is this a lasting treasure / Or just a moment’s treasure?’ Will we still love you tomorrow? Yes, Amy, we will.