Billboard Music Awards
Grammy Nods May Restart Winehouse's Wild Ride
In a Grammy Award nominee field littered with outsize personalities, Amy Winehouse stands tall on the strength of her album "Back to Black" and its hit single, "Rehab," not to mention her beehive hairIn a Grammy Award nominee field littered with outsize personalities, Amy Winehouse stands tall on the strength of her album "Back to Black" and its hit single, "Rehab," not to mention her beehive hairdo and tabloid-fodder personal life.
"After a tempestuous year of incredible highs and incredible lows, some people forget that she isn't just a tabloid queen," says Island Records Group U.K. president Nick Gatfield, who relishes the chance to get people talking about Winehouse's music again. "She's actually a hugely talented artist."
"Back to Black," which was nominated for album and best pop vocal album of the year, has shifted more than 1.3 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The artist's other nominations include best new artist, record and song of the year, and best female pop vocal performance for "Rehab."
"It's a reflection of her status [in the United States] that when you flick through the TV coverage [of the nominations], it's her image they use above everything else," Gatfield says. "She's made a bigger impact than even her record sales would dictate."
But why did Winehouse make such an impression on listeners this year? According to producer Mark Ronson, who crafted the sound of "Back to Black" based on his shared love with Winehouse of '60s girl group music and '70s soul, the album "made people rethink music because it was so simple in its approach: the sound of five or six really good instrumentalists with an amazing singer." (Ronson himself is nominated for producer of the year, along with Timbaland, Howard Benson, Mike Elizondo and Joe Chiccarelli.)
"Getting so many nods, it doesn't mean your career is going to take off," cautions Giant Step co-founder/CEO Maurice Bernstein, whose music and lifestyle marketing company handled the grass-roots outreach for "Back to Black." "But this was hands down the best album of 2007. Nothing album-wise has come out that has touched it from start to finish; the quality of sounds, the soul."
It's not yet known whether Winehouse -- who recently canceled her U.K. tour on doctor's orders -- will be well enough to attend the Grammy Award ceremony or return to work to capitalize on the attention her nominations generated.
"If she chooses to do more around it and is fit to do so, then great, but there will be absolutely no pressure from the company," Gatfield promises. "It may be time to draw a line under it all and move on. She's had enough incredible life experiences over the last 18 months to make an amazing album when she's ready to do that."