I was shocked by Amy Winehouse’s death — even though I knew nothing about her beyond her name. Amy seemed a victim of what I call “Emperor’s New Clothes” syndrome. Killed by the overblown worship of a talent that didn’t (yet) fully exist.
I watched a video of “Rehab,” where she sang what will undoubtedly become her famous last words once the autopsy results are in…
“They tried to make me go to Rehab,
I said, ‘No, no, no.”
Chef Jamie Oliver probably put it best when he tweeted that Winehouse was a “raw talent.”
Tony Bennett, who must be taken with a grain of salt in his geezerhood, doing “duets” with young singers who can prop up his pipes, called Winehouse “an extraordinary musician with a rare intuition… an exceptional talent.”
To be all that, she’d at least have had to master diction. I watched several of her videos to see what Tony was talking about, and you can’s make out half of her lyrics. (I know, I sound like Karen kvetching about Treme. Sorry.)
Almost as much as Amy’s death, it shocked me to read that her album, Back to Black, won 5 Grammies!
Who are we kidding? Personally, the woman was a walking trainwreck who looked like the bride Dracula left at the altar. Professionally, she had a so-so voice, if you separate the slick trappings from her actual performances. And Cole Porter (the human) isn’t exactly turning green in his grave in envy of her snappy lyrics.
So another one bites the dust because people keep mistaking sheer guts for talent. Amy Winehouse might have one day become a great musician if everyone hadn’t jumped the gun and declared her first trickles of drivel “pure genius.”
Maybe we should learn to hold our applause until these superstar wannabes do their homework, pay their dues, and outgrow the navel-gazing phase. In that time, they might also develop the maturity and stamina to survive in the pressure-cooker of fame.
We’d have a lot fewer idols, but they’d probably last a lot longer.