Posts Tagged ‘Amy Winehouse’

The Freedom of Music: How Big a Talent was Amy Winehouse?

July 31st, 2011
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

The death of Amy Winehouse has had a rather predictable initial outcome, a major boost in sales of Winehouse’s two albums, and a debate about whether she is a latter day Billie Holliday or another modern two bit product of minimal talent. I lean towards the former, although Shirley Bassey might be a comparison I’d be more inclined to make. sidebar-3

Amy Winehouse’ career spanned 9 years, beginning with her debut album Frank in 2003. In that 9 years – approximately the same period of time that the Beatles recorded together – she produced 2 albums worth of material, 24 songs. By comparison, Billie Holliday released 27 singles in the years 1936 and 1937. Any view of Winehouse needs to be tempered by the issue of her very small output.

There’s an Amy Winehouse story that has sat in my brain for the last week. On Saturday’s I write a celebrity culture piece, and after hearing about her death, I went back and reviewed the Amy Winehouse stories. Two and a half years ago, in March 2009, I noted that Winehouse had handed in her third album to the record company, an album with a strong reggae feel. The record company rejected it, telling her it was not a, “wise move to change her style so sharply.” Of course, up until record companies completely ruined the music business, a third album that went off in a different direction was a bit of a tradition, and acts that were serious did it regularly. But in 2009, any change of direction, any demonstration of talent above the previously approved demonstrations of talent didn’t wash.

Perhaps, of course, the Winehouse reggae album was lousy. Perhaps, possibly even, it was drug induced ramblings to some up-strummed syncopated guitars, and the record company was spot on to refuse to release it. But what if it’s not? What if, it is another great album, in a style completely different than the previous one? What then do we make of her talents?

Here’s a bold prediction: in the wake of her death, we are going to find out. The record company, so previously uninterested in Winehouse’s change of style, will release the reggae album posthumously. Further expect the DVD, and accompanying CD/iTunes release of her 2007 South by Southwest performances.

The 2007 South by Southwest performances are somewhat legendary. On the back of Back to Black, she did two sets, one with full band and one acoustic. Those who were there, including jaded music critics, where blown away by both. Releasing the two performances would put Winehouse out there as a significant live performer, overwriting the story of her last live performance a few weeks ago, which was nothing short of disaster.

But the reggae album will tell the tale. If it is a good album, or better than good, then likely Winehouse will forevermore be seen as a great talent, sadly cut down before she could build a significant repertoire. If it is a lousy album, then she will be rightly noted as a one time lucky performer, who couldn’t duplicate her early achievements.

There may be more, and if so, it will surely see the light of day. Perhaps some outtakes, perhaps that Bond theme she apparently wrote, but never got a chance to do because the Bond producer’s were more worried about her drug habit than her talent. It will all see the light of day, it will all sell extraordinarily well, making her poor sad parents rich beyond their imagination. And it will all go a long way to answering the question: just how big a talent was Amy Winehouse?

The Freedom of Music

Saturday Fluffernutter: The I Wasn’t Planning on Doing One This Week Edition

July 23rd, 2011

All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorAmy Winehouse (1983-2011)

Amy Winehouse has been found dead in her North London apartment. The singer joins the 27 club, after a  short career known more for her offstage problems than on stage successes. None the less, Winehouse had a beautiful, soulful voice reminiscent of 60’s jazz, soul singers.

A true waste of talent is the only words that come to mind to describe Winehouse today.

Rest in Peace, Amy Jade Winehouse.


Saturday Fluffernutter: The Interning for Chelsea Clinton Edition

June 25th, 2011
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorAmy Winehouse was planning to tour Europe. At the first show in Belgrade she could barely stand or sing, couldn’t remember the words and wasn’t doing much better reading them off the teleprompter. It was, and this is a quote, “shambolic.”fluffposter01sample1

It was so bad that her management – the people responsible for profiting off her work – have cancelled all shows and ordered her to “address her problems.”

According to one source:

It has been hard for Ray (manager Ray Cosbert) to watch her get into trouble over the years. There’s only so much he can do – but enough’s enough. She’s going away and this time it could be for years.

fluffincolorHands up everybody who read the headline, Porn Star Says She Was An Intern for Clinton, and assumed it was Bill, not Hillary she worked for?

fluffincolor Former Bikini Kill rocker Kathleen Hanna has taken aim at Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Jason Mraz and James Blunt in a new CNN rant.
Wait… who? Kathleen Hanna?

If your going to do a celebrity spat story, shouldn’t everybody involved be known?

fluffincolorThe creep of the week award goes to actor Doug Hutchison, 51, who this week married country singer Courtney Alexis Stodden, 16, in Las Vegas.

Hutchison is best known for his role as the unpopular, sadistic prison guard, Percy Wetmore, in 1999‘s The Green Mile… Stodden was toilet trained in 1999, but only just.


Ryan Dunn (1977-2011)

Jackass star Ryan Dunn met an untimely demise last weekend when his last stunt, drunk driving in a Porsche 911 GT3, went horribly wrong.

Dunn’s Porsche crashed into a wooded area at high speed in West Chester Pennsylvania.

A few hours before the crash, Dunn uploaded a twitter-pic of himself, drink in hand, from a local bar. The owner of the bar, however, claims Dunn only had a few drinks and was not drunk. Police disagree, noting that toxicology tests indicate he was more than twice the legal limit at the time of the accident.

Dunn as well as his passenger, 30-year-old Zachary Hartwell, a friend of Dunn’s, were both killed immediately.

fluffincolorPeter Falk  (1927-2011)

Peter Falk was a prolific and dynamic actor, who starred on Broadway, in movies and on television.

After a stint in the Merchant Marines and getting a degree in English Literature, he began cutting his teeth on stage in the 1950’s.

By the end of the decade, he was acting in movies. In 1960 he received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for the role of Abe Reles in Murder Inc.. He was back with another nomination in 1961, for the role as Joy Boy in Pocketful of Miracles.

It was in TV where Falk achieved his greatest success, portraying Lieutenant Columbo 69 times in the TV drama, Columbo. Columbo ran intermittently from 1968-2003.

Falk died this week at his home. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s and Dementia in his later years.

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Saturday Fluffernutter: The You Know You Have a Problem When Britney Spears is Manlier than James Bond Edition

May 28th, 2011
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorOprah Winfrey signed off the air this week, finishing her long running TV show, which is arguably the most successful show ever.fluffernutter-2

Winfrey signed off with a quiet show, just her and her audience, reviewing best of clips through the years. The day before, she put on the “really big shoo,” featuring a multitude of celebrities paying homage to the Queen of daytime talk.

The big O is moving on to running her own TV network, which will feature… a show of her own.

Plus a la change

fluffincolorJeffery Deaver released his new novel in London this week at St. Pancras Station with champagne, a red Bentley and royal marines rappelling from the roof.

The Book?

So nice to get some new Bond material that doesn’t involve that pouty, wimped out man child Daniel Craig.

fluffincolorSpeaking of James Bond, Casino Royale director Martin Campbell has blasted it’s follow-up, Quantum of Solace, as “lousy”:

The truth was it was a lousy film. Casino Royale really set the table for them and I felt they blew it completely. I’m sure Sam (Mendes) will do a good job (directing the next Bond movie). I just hope to God they don’t mess it up..

Look, the truth is, they are both lousy films, and it has nothing to do with directing. God herself could descend from the heavens to direct the next Bond movie, and as long as she keeps Daniel Craig in the lead role, it will be inferior.

fluffincolorOh, God, she’s back!

Britney Spears is a talentless hack who uses auto-tune on record and lip synchs live.

Somehow though, she just won’t go away. Last weekend at the Billboard Skank and Hoe Awards (hilariously called the Billboard Music Awards), Britney started the show performing with Rihanna. They synched Rihanna’s song S&M by pole dancing in leather bodices while handcuffed.

Pole dancing and handcuffs? Sure sounds like Britney.

Go away!

fluffincolorAmy Winehouse is back in the news, and back in rehab. The super soulful songstress with a voice like Marianne Faithfull and habits to match, checked herself into the Priory Clinic in the UK.

Reports suggest this time out the singer, who’s had a big hit in 2006 with a song called Rehab, is drinking too much.

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Saturday Fluffernutter:

March 28th, 2009
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Saturday Fluffernutter – all the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities.

fluffincolorIndy and Ally sitting in a tree… Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart  are tying the knot as the anthropologist with ‘tude is finally making an honest woman of the lawyer which broods. The 66 year old Ford and the 44 year Flockhart old  have been an item for seven-and-a-half years.

fluffincolorThis is one of those stories which drives me nuts.  For forever and a day bands, and artists, would put out a couple of albums, then shift gears.  After a few albums, it’s time to give your fans something else, a new voice: show them you aren’t a one trick pony.

This week Amy Winehouse took demos for her 3rd album to her bosses at Island records. Instead of more of the same, the songs, it is reported, had more of a reggae feel. “Her bosses don’t think it’s a wise move to change her style so sharply and have told her that.” What utter nonsense. Either trust your artist and get out of their way, or drop them. But to suggest change is bad is stupidity on a symphonic scale. I have often in my weekend pieces complained about the lack of quality that emerges from the music industry these days. This is a prime example of why that is.04_06_09


The former Mrs. Eddie Van Halen, Valerie Bertinelli  is looking fabulous at 48 and proving it on the cover of People (right).

The folks at Jenny Craig must be doing cartwheels this week.

fluffincolorAnother girl next door who recently showed she still had some stuff at 40, Jennifer Aniston released boyfriend John Mayer recently. The reason, apparently he is too busy to call, email, or text her, but has a twitter account full of messages. Seems the former FRIEND was feeling neglected while Mayer was tweeting to strangers.

Think I’d give up my twitter account. Mayer didn’t, and his tweets can be got here.

fluffincolorRobin Williams is in full recovery mode after a heart attack three weeks ago. He has since had surgery to “replace his aortic valve, repair his mitral valve, and correct his irregular heartbeat,” and is on the mend. Doctors expect Williams to make a full recovery within eight weeks.

fluffincolorDan Seals (1948-2009) – Back in the 70’s, there were folk groups who had a successful run with pretty acoustic music: Seals and Croft, Dan Fogelberg and England Dan and John Ford Coley among them. Dan Seals was England Dan, and younger brother of Jimmy Seals of Seals and Croft. Their songs were wonderfully melodic, their success great.

It was the eighties though, in the opinion of this blog, that Dan Seals provided his penultimate moment. Bop is one of those songs that reminds  how good a simple pop song can be. Three minutes of feel good, fall in love happiness compressed into half-a-dozen chords, two verses, three choruses and a bridge: perfect.

This week of England Dan Seals lost a two year battle with lymphoma at age 61.  He is survived by his wife and four children, and At Home in Hespeler expresses their deepest condolences to them.

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Saturday Fluffernutter: The Better Late Than Never Edition: Bob Dylan’s Positively Number Two Street, Eva Longoria Parker kissed Teri Hatcher, Natasha Richardson (1963-2009)

March 21st, 2009
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Saturday Fluffernutter – all the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities.

fluffincolorBob Dylan’s neighbours near his Malibu home are upset over what’s blowing in the wind. Security at the Tambourine Man Compound (that’s Mr. Tambourine Man to you…) apparently aren’t allowed in the residence they are guarding. But a man on an eight hour shift Positively must hit Number Two Street, and you can’t expect  them to, um…, in the woods. So a porta potty has been established. Six months later, when the warm ocean breeze blows in off the Pacific, Dylan’s upscale neighbours get the sweet scent of his security staffs lunch – from six months ago.

fluffernutterNeighbours are not amused, but in these times of government that regulates every action you might think of performing, nobody put a “no permanent porta-potties allowed,” rule.

fluffincolorAmy Winehouse appeared in a London courtroom this week to answer charges of an assault at a high society ball last September. Winehouse pled not guilty, but the charges have already been costly as Winehouse was denied entry into the US the week before, forcing her to cancel an appearance at California’s Coachella Music Festival next month.


Sarah Jassica Parker was spotted this week in, of all places… New York City filming a new romantic-comedy, “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” Personally, I was expecting a drama or historical piece from SJP. Other surprises, the rom-com also stars Hugh Grant.

Parker and friends are slated to being production of a new Sex in the City movie this summer also, shockingly, in New York City.


Eva Longoria Parker confessed this week that an upcoming show features a scene in which she and and Teri Hatcher share a same sex kiss. I don’t actually watch Desperate Housewives, but I might just start.

fluffincolorNatasha Richardson (1963-2009) The thing that was shocking about Natasha Richardson’s death was the story line that preceded it. She had a minor accident, which suddenly turned in to reports of her being brain dead. For my friend Richard, who doesn’t understand the fuss, this was a person who had it all, in the prime of her life, suddenly gone because a minor fall on the small hill at a ski resort.

Regardless of whether you think this was over-played in the media (it was), there is an element of tragedy in this story. Unlike other celebrities, she had a long term marriage to Liam Neeson for fifteen years and was a mother to two sons, 14 and 13. Neeson for his part played the role of Oskar Schindler and once drove a forklift truck at the Guinness factory, so he gets extra credit from me.

Condolences from At Home in Hespeler to Natasha Richardsons family, who suffer this weekend as all people who lose a loved one do.

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