-by Megan Bradley
Amy Winehouse’s sound is one of the most recognizable of the 2000’s. The singer brought R&B back to the musical mainstream, and exposed a modern generation to the history and spirit of soul. Her 2003 debut Frank introduced her thoughtful songwriting and powerful voice, with 2006 follow up album Back to Black solidifying her place as one of the UK’s soaring stars. With this newfound fame came increased focus on and scrutiny of her private life— especially her struggles with substance abuse. Winehouse tragically died in 2011, but not before becoming a musical legend on par with the vocal icons she admired.
Though her career was cut short, Amy left behind a trove of demos and recordings that showcase her reflective nature and lyrical prowess. Below are some of our favorite rare pieces.
Though at first sunny-sounding, the lyrics portray the paradigm of the pop star’s life. Burnt out, she wants to regain her “soul,” but is too drained to make the effort.
As the title implies, the all-too-familiar subject of this demo is distraction: Winehouse sings about waning inspiration and low motivation to record new material.
Through foretelling reflective verses, the star sings about her addictive personality and its overwhelmingly negative effect on her love life and personal relationships.
“What It Is”
In this uncut demo, Winehouse sings of the impending demise of a relationship. Over just a few guitar chords, she declares her desire for unlimited self-expression and freedom.
“When My Eyes”
On this dreamy demo, originally written for Frank, Winehouse gives a glimpse into her imaginative and sometimes naïve psyche.
“Love Is a Losing Game” (Demo)
Though a polished version was eventually released on Back to Black, Winehouse’s original stripped interpretation of the ballad is arguably even more moving.
An uncharacteristically fun, even frivolous song, “Trilby” highlights the singer’s uncontrollable shopping habits.
“Beat The Point To Death”
With a touch of late ’90s R&B sound, the notably private star laments the unrelenting attention paid to her, as well as having to explain herself to a misunderstanding public.
Close To The Front
This layered, darker demo showcases Winehouse’s impressive vocal range while maintaining her classic poignance.