Sunday, 7 August 2011

Amy Winehouse R.I.P.

The death of Amy Winehouse somehow managed to be both completely predicable (you just know the media had the obituaries ready to go) and yet still a little shocking. But mostly sad of course. The usual distasteful orgy of manufacture grief shouldn't detract from that.

Of all the comments made in the media about what a waste of talent and the loss of potential music that was sure to come there is another point I'd like to mention.

Amy Winehouse was that rarity, a true crossover artist. Her appeal crossed a shocking number of boundaries. Of course the American Idol Pop crowd liked her. But they like anything popular by definition. Winehouse was also popular with the urban/dance crowd, again no surprise. But she was also taken seriously by people who take their music seriously, fans of 1960's mod, R&B and girl groups, fans jazz vocals, even punks liked her, especially girls. And off course the critics loved her.

Exhibit a) Coldplay ~ "Rehab" (live);

There was a time when crossovers happened all the time. In the early Rock and Roll era Elvis managed to score the remarkable feat of scoring simultaneous hits on not only the Rock and Pop charts but also the R&B and Country charts. Although there were no Adult Contemporary charts yet is a safe bet that his ballads would have charted there as well. The only charts he didn't dominate in the late 1950's were the Jazz charts, and that's only because he never tried. I imagine that if he had tackled some jazz vocals (as Brook Benton did) those would have been successful as well. Elvis was not even unique in this, Bill Haley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lewis and believe it or not Pat Boone also scored this hat trick, albeit it less often.

Exhibit b);
The Jolly Biys ~ "Rehab";

Later tastes would become ever more segmented, the wave explosion would clear enough space to allow a thousand flowers to bloom and an array of niche genres that would have never been heard a generation earlier. This is all for the best of course, but sometimes it is nice to see someone who is able to bridge normally strict boundaries based on sheer talent, and Amy Winehouse did that.

Thought that was worth a mention.

Exhibit c)
Amy Winehouse/Guns n' Roses mashup by DJ's From Mars~ "Rehab";

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