Saturday, July 23, 2011

Popobit: Amy Winehouse

There's a lot of tears, crocodile and genuine, around this evening.

Who's to say that the brutal, too-soon shut-off wouldn't have happened anyway? We all have friends lost to addiction and illness, gone way before their time, and it can happen just as easily to a shopworker as a pop star. But for a shopworker, at least, you don't do it in the full glare of a million eyes searching for a narrative; nor do shopworkers have large, well-rewarded management teams who are supposed to be looking out for you, protecting you.

Some of the reaction from around the web - ignoring the tweets of those who seem to think that this is about them for now:
Popjustice has a post headed Amy, and a focus on the music:

All we really want to do is listen to the songs and watch the videos so that is what we are going to do.
The BBC News obituary is careful when recalling the part tabloids paid in making things worse for her:
A month later she went into a rehab facility following the publication, by a tabloid newspaper, of pictures of a woman they claimed was Winehouse, allegedly smoking crack cocaine.
Sky News, for some reason, wheeled on Michelle Gayle on the grounds that - as Gayle put it - she "knows people who knew her" and "met her twice".

Still, that's one more time than the Mail's Paul Connolly, who circles round trying to think of something to say:
I met Amy once, way back prior to the release of Frank, and I found her witty, intelligent and sparky company. She certainly had a mischievous glint in her eye but I did not have her marked down as a potential member of the 'stupid club.' It looks as though I may have been wrong.
Yes, the stupid club. Winehouse dying at 27 means the belief that somehow 27 is a dangerous age to be a popstar is going to have a greater grip on the imaginations of editors desperate to fill a quiet news day. Still, at least Time magazine manages to put a slightly more positive spin on the grouping:
Amy Winehouse Becomes the Newest Member of the Forever 27 Club
The Stupid Club name comes from Kurt Cobain's mother, by the way. But you probably knew that. Time's Glen Levy ponders if Amy would have known that she was in this supposed dangerzone:
But one wonders if Winehouse herself would have been aware of the Forever 27 club? There's so much about them online that it would surely have been difficult for any singer, let alone someone of Winehouse's stature, to have not known.
It's not clear what Levy thinks would be happening here - does he think an elder statesman of the music scene takes 26 year-olds to one side and informs them that they're going to have to be quite careful in the coming twelve months?

He snaps out of it, briefly, and realises that it might have been the least of Winehouse's worries, before returning to try and warm-up his lukewarm theme:
Of course, it's impossible to know what was in her mind during these final days (indeed, what with stints in rehab, court appearances, a troubled marriage and a recently canceled tour due to a shambolic performance in Serbia, where she appeared too drunk to perform, she clearly had problems that were there for all to see) but her passing does seem somewhat post-modern (which isn't intended to come across as trite).
Oddly enough, the suggestion that you're not trying to be trite really just underlines how trite the piece is. It's - what, four, five hours - since her body was found; she had an amazing career by any standards. Is there so little to say you're reduced to pointing out that she died at the same age as some other people? (Apart from anything: Otis Redding was 26 when he died. The Big Bopper was 28. It's just coincidence.)

Luke Lewis' NME blog is pretty good - clear-headed and fair, warm without being mawkish:
The cliche when reacting to the deaths of famous people is to say how "shocked" you are. That doesn't really apply in the case of Amy Winehouse, who was found dead earlier today (July 23) of a suspected drugs overdose, aged 27.

It's deeply sad, of course, and tragic - but not shocking. Winehouse had been on a wilful fast-track to oblivion for a long time. Indeed, one of the most heartbreaking things about her all-too-brief career is that the second, downward spiral phase - the shambolic gigs, the stints in rehab - lasted longer than the happy first flush of fame, when she was simply a phenomenal performer, with a confessional vulnerability that drew you in, and a voice that could pin you to the back of the room.
And how does The Sun choose to remember her?
Did you see what happened? Ring the newsdesk on 0207 782 4104.
Hounding her in death in exactly the same way the paper did in life. There are people mourning a daughter and a friend. But don't let that stop you, News International. Don't let that give you a pause.

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