When Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in 2011 at age 27, popular music lost one of its most talented young voices. She had stunned the world in 2006 with her breakthrough album, Back to Black, which showcased her larger-than-life vocal range and songwriting skills that belied her tender years. By the end of her life Winehouse had become infamous for her personal problems and drug-fueled exploits, but her music will endure long after the tabloid headlines are forgotten.
While most of her songs are autobiographical, featuring lyrics brimming with equal parts wit and vulnerability, she wasn’t afraid to add her own unique twist to familiar tunes. Winehouse notably teamed with Mark Ronson in 2008 to deliver a brassy bass-driven cover of “Valerie” – for many, the definitive version of the Zunton’s song.
On the eighth anniversary of her death, celebrate Winehouse’s life with her music. Read on to hear 10 classic songs that she remade and reclaimed with her singular vocal flair.
1. “All My Loving”
The young singer transformed the Beatles’ rollicking 1963 cut into a delicate acoustic ballad with a bossa-nova soul.
2. “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” with the Rolling Stones
Winehouse got some help from Mick Jagger and Keith Richards on her version of the Motown stomper.
3. “Someone to Watch Over Me”
This Gershwin composition is a mainstay of the Great American Songbook, but the English soulstress reclaimed it for Britain with this gorgeous rendition.
4. “Moon River”
This rare recording features a 16-year-old Amy Winehouse singing with the National Jazz Orchestra in 2000.
5. “Doo Wop (That Thing)”
Winehouse’s vocal style often drew comparisons to Lauryn Hill, so she decided to embrace the similarities by shifting her own “He Can Only Hold Her” into a track from Hill’s landmark album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
6. “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”
Her music was steeped in the Brill Building sound of the early 60s girl groups, so tackling this Shirelles hit (written by the legendary Carole King) seemed like a natural choice for Winehouse.
Sam Cooke’s original was a breezy string-laden affair, but Winehouse took a cue from Johnny Nash’s reggae cover for a galloping Studio One-style version.
8. “Monkey Man”
Winehouse’s affinity to reggae also extended into this cover of Toots & the Maytals’ 1969 song, which helped paved the way for the genre known as ska.
9. “It’s My Party”
Quincy Jones produced Leslie Gore’s 1963 original, and he also oversaw Winehouse’s cover for his 2010 all-star tribute album, Q Soul Bossa Nostra.
10. “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” with Paul Weller
The slinky Marvin Gaye smash seems tailor-made for Winehouse’s scornful vocal growls.
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