Less that 48 hours after the tragic news of Amy Winehouse’s passing with commentators commenting about the “27 club” of those who met their demise at this untimely age (Jim Morrison, Hendrix, Cobain et al), up pops the Hounslow-raised Tamil Tigress MIA with a track called “27” including the lyrics “all rock stars go to heaven, you said you’ll be dead at 27.” Listen for yourself here at the Guardian website to its electro noodlings. Apparently it had been knocking round as a demo for a while and I guess this weekend’s events provided MIA (whose best known track to date “Paper Planes” was so compelling as it was built around a sampled Clash riff) the perfect opportunity to put it out. Don’t know if I’m being hyper sensitive but this does seem in pretty poor taste.
Death sadly has propelled Winehouse’s recorded output up chartwards in a way only a big tv appearance can rival (Queen after Live Aid, Beyonce following this year’s Glasto etc). I personally first came across Winehouse’s music in her pre beehive days on a free cover mounted CD from the Evening Standard issued as a tribute to Damilola Taylor. Although wrongly labelled on the sleeve, the sassy pared down “In My Bed” marrying together hip hop beats with those soaring unmistakable vocal tones and quirky lyrics was the opening track and a total standout.
It may be a statement of the bleedin’ obvious but since then the much feted “Back to Black” is one of the few albums of recent years that can be played all the way through on repeat endlessly – not a duff song on there. I remember thinking the same about Nirvana’s Nevermind at the time.
Yes as an age to exit this world 27 is way too soon – which is what can also be said of MIA’s “tribute”. I am in good company – The Daily Mail agrees in a story illustrated with evidence of what could be described as the Diana-ification of modern celebrity deaths. Amy Winehouse was an incredible talent and the words of Ian Dury come to mind: “what a waste”. I can’t imagine what her family must be going through. You can always tell someone’s any good when they spawn a load of copyists – step forward Duffy and Adele. It seems sad that her last concert was such a shambles. The Daily Mail website puts their usual spin on it all. For them the versions of the hits performed at the concert in Belgrade where she was booed offstage were (you guessed it) barely recognisable.