At last month’s 2011 Video Music Awards, Tony Bennett introduced Bruno Mars‘ outstanding tribute to Winehouse by sharing a short clip of himself and Winehouse in the studio cutting a cover of the jazz standard “Body And Soul.” As of now, it’s one of the last pieces of recorded music that Winehouse contributed to before her tragic and untimely passing, although if the rumors hold up, there may be more Winehouse cuts on the way someday soon.
Aside from being a very pleasant rendition of the song, the thing that strikes us the most about this video is seeing Amy Winehouse in the habitat where she always felt the most comfortable — the studio. Most of the memories that we have of the last few years of her life are paparazzi shots of her strung out on the streets of London, wasting away before our very eyes. This video, in which Winehouse looks both healthy and happy, stands in stark contrast those tabloid images. Sure, she appears a bit fidgety at times, but we attribute that behavior not to drugs, but rather to her uniquely personal method of channeling the ghosts of great jazz singers past, like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday (both of whom not-so-coincidentally recorded versions of “Body And Soul”). We’ll also admit it breaks our heart more than a little bit to watch the way that she coyly batted her mascara-laden eyelashes at the inimitable Bennett, knowing that we’ll never get to see her do that again.
The most anticipated track on the record, though, is Tony Bennett’s duet with Lady Gaga on the Rogers and Hart classic, “The Lady Is A Tramp.” Our VH1 News team recently caught up with Bennett, and he had nothing but lavish praise to bestow on the Mother Monster. “She is an amazing singer, she has the same gift as Ella Fitzgerald,” he told us. It’s not just her ability to sing and tickle the ivories that has him impressed, though: “I like the audience reaction when she does a performance. The people go out to lunch, I’ve never heard such enthusiasm.” We’ve never heard the Little Monsters’ reaction to Gaga’s concerts described in that manner, but we’re pretty confident that they’re gonna eat it up. You know, like lunch!
The 2011 VMAs are airing live from Los Angeles on Sunday night, and the latest addition to the evening’s already-stellar lineup is Tony Bennett. The 85 year-old (!) will captain what’s sure to be an emotional tribute to recently-deceased singer Amy Winehouse. Introducing a slew of performers who are currently being kept confidential by the folks in MTV’s ivory tower, we’re excited to see that Bennett, who had recently collaborated with Winehouse on a duet due this fall, “Body and Soul,” will make an appearance on the notoriously youthful VMA stage. While the majority of the MTV audience’s demographic was not yet even a twinkle in their parents’ eyes when Bennett took home his first Grammy in 1963, this certainly isn’t the first time an elder statesman has been booked on MTV’s annual celebration of the year’s best music videos. Want to see what we mean? Check out our list of the Top 5 Oldest People To Appear On-Camera at The VMAS!
5) George Clinton, 52 Years-Old (1993): George Clinton presented the Best R&B Video award alongside West Coasters Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre in ’93. Then 52 years-old, the funk innovator and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee must have been pretty psyched to hand Moonmen over to the lovely ladies of En Vogue. And the Funky Divas were most likely equally as pleased!
3) Diana Ross, 55 Years-Old (1999): Who could forget the jiggle heard ’round the world? When Mary J. Blige accompanied Lil’ Kim, Lil’ Kim’s breast, and Motown sensation Diana Ross to present the award for Best Hip-Hop in ’99, all hell broke loose! The then-55-year-old Rosstook it upon herself to, on live television, cup and jiggle Kim’s pasty-covered, partially-exposed boobie.
Green Day took a break from working on their new album last week to road-test what they’d written?sort of. On Tuesday the band announced a last-minute, Thursday night benefit show for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at the 250-capacity Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa, CA, and their set that night included, by some accounts, nineteen unreleased songs. Despite the “STRICT NO CAMERA, NO CELL PHONE POLICY,” a recording of “Amy” made it onto YouTube, and judging from the lyrics, later posted on the band’s website, the song is a tribute to the late Amy Winehouse (“27, gone without a trace/ And you walked away from your drink”).
“Amy” kicked off the encore, which also included a cover of Ozzy Osbourne‘s “Goodbye to Romance” and eight Green Day fan favorites. The band has provided no information on the timeline of their upcoming studio album, nor any word on which of the new songs will even make the cut.
Coldplay paid tribute to the late Amy Winehouse in concert on Sunday night at the Splendour in the Grass festival in Australia, and in their latest tour-blog update, they shared what sounds like a soundboard recording of the chorus of “Rehab,” which they played during their encore as an introduction to their own “Fix You.” “There?s little that can be said about Amy Winehouse?s passing that hasn?t already been said,” the band writes in the post. “It?s just such a sad waste. We?ll leave aside the awful irony and just let the Aussie choir sing” (referring to the audience’s unprompted singalong). The tribute is understated and respectful, and as far as we can tell from reviews and other clips, the band didn’t say any words, letting the music (not to mention the audience) speak for itself.
The dog days of summer are upon us, people. It’s August, it’s hot outside, and the news cycle is starting to slow to a crawl. The general sluggishness of the season is even affecting the music industry, as music fans don’t seem to be gravitating towards any new material. Instead, they seem to be content to play the same songs that they’ve had on repeat all summer long.
Case in point: Katy Perry‘s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F),” which has exhibited a stranglehold on the top of our Song of the Summer Countdown for six consecutive weeks. Her song looks to have a lock on the prize at this point, but then again, maybe The Throne (aka Jay-Z and Kanye West) can mount a last-minute challenge when their highly anticipated collaboration Watch The Throne drops next week? Stay tuned!
Until an official report on the cause of Amy Winehouse’s death becomes public, many are more than happy to speculate, including, most recently, Tony Azzopardi, a 56-year-old London man who claims to have been friends with the singer and her now-incarcerated ex Blake Fielder-Civil. Azzopardi has given several interviews to local police?and several more to the British tabloids?indicating that, in spite of the claims of Winehouse’s family, the singer had relapsed, a fact he knew as a result of helping her buy crack cocaine and heroin on the eve of her death.
“She sang from her soul,” Estelle told VH1 News, as Big Sean looked on. She recalled first hearing “F?k Me Pumps,” from Winehouse’s debut Frank: “I’m sitting there, like, ‘I know girls like that! I know every one of ‘em girls! We rave with them every week!’” Clearly, even though the two singers came up together, Estelle admired her late friend’s lyrical talents. “It’s hard as an artist to be that clear and that clean in your message and what you’re talking about,” she said. “[Amy Winehouse] was the only one I knew who could do that, and just speak it.” The real revelation of the interview, though, is the new level of appreciation that Big Sean develops for Winehouse as Estelle speaks. “Wow! That’s crazy! I didn’t know it was like that,” he said, admiringly, adding, “I didn’t personally know her. That’s real, man. She sounded like a real G. No, seriously!” (Anyone who needs a reminder of her realness need only watch her shocked gratitude at winning the Grammy for Record of the Year. WARNING: That video nearly made us cry at work?and we watched the ceremony live.) Read more…
Mark Ronson is, it would seem, a firm believer in the old saying, “the show must go on.” Less than thirty-six hours after he attended the funeral of his dear friend and musical collaborator Amy Winehouse, he and his band The Business Intl. were slated to play an open-air concert as part of the weeklong Greenwich Summer Sessions festival, and rather than cancel the engagement, he dedicated the show to his late friend and played several of her songs, including “Valerie”:
The song was already part of the band’s repertoire, but last night’s performance was particularly poignant. “Usually when we sing this song, Kyle [Falconer, previously of The View] sings it,” Ronson said, introducing the song, “But you know what? I think the only thing that would be right tonight is if you guys sing it.” He then introduced Winehouse’s two backup singers: “We’re gonna help you?I’m not gonna say that Zalon and Ade don’t have much better voices than all of you?but it’s not really about that. We want you to sing this s?t as loud as you can.” The crowd gladly obliged. The band?and crowd?were also joined on vocals by Dave McCabe, who’d originally written “Valerie” for his band The Zutons.
Ronson’s tributes spanned the entire evening; while DJing before his set, he played “Rehab,” and he later related a quotation from Tuesday’s service while speaking to the crowd: “There was a rabbi that spoke, and he said that somebody’s life is measured in deeds and not years, and that’s the best thing I heard yesterday.” Near the end of his performance he returned again to Winehouse’s catalog, performing “Back to Black,” which is viewable below.
In the wake of Amy Winehouse‘s untimely death, many of her obituaries have focused on how little recorded material of hers actually exists. Since releasing her second studio album, Back In Black, in 2006, the soul-influenced vocalist went five years without officially releasing any new material. And while speculation and rumors of new songs have been swirling around since her unfortunate passing on Saturday, a source close to Winehouse’s management has told The Guardian that there may actually be a treasure trove of songs to release. Enough for an album, or, dare we say it, even two.
According to the source, the late singer “had put down the bare bones of tracks and some were further along than others.” Constantly writing over these past few years, it was understood that Winehouse was recording and amassing a pile of demos in the studios within her home. In 2008, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, Lucian Grainge publically boasted that Amy’s new material was “sensational,” and just a year ago, the artist who already penned Frank and Back to Black vowed that a third album was in the works, and would be released in January of 2011.
Like the gifted singer, that date has now come and gone, and as fans, we can only hope that the purity in the groundwork Winehouse already created will be handled with care and built upon in the most respectful manner possible. And while her label Island Records is maintaining a universal (no pun intended) don’t-confirm-or-deny position, we’ve been told by our own sources over there that there is “no new music as of now.” Translation: it’s coming, but we have to be patient.