MTV's VMA tribute to Amy Winehouse did not feature a certain U.K. songstress with big hair and an even bigger voice (ahem, Adele); nor did it include a certain Mother Monster, who, upon hearing of Winehouse's death, described just how much hope Amy had given her . Rather, the VMA dedication to the deceased "Back to Black" singer was led by men, some who knew her and some who simply admired her: friend Russell Brand, collaborator Tony Bennett, and soulful singer Bruno Mars.
Russell Brand kicked off the tribute, sharing his first impressions of Amy with the crowd: "daft, dopey person, just wandering around" and "ordinary girl with extraordinary hair." But soon he relented, telling the crowd that Amy, a "genius" in his eyes, was "not just another person milling about, waiting to be famous."
Tony Bennett, who recorded a duet of "Body and Soul" with Winehouse in March, echoed Brand's high praise. "Of all the young artists I've ever met in the last 20 years, she was a true jazz artist in the traditions of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday -- She had the gift," Bennett told the crowd amidst footage of the two recording side by side.
The final male who honored Winehouse was a singer who, though not as often acknowledged as influenced by Winehouse's throwback soul sound, clearly is inspired in his own way. Doo-wop hooligan Bruno Mars, flanked by a full band with horn and string sections, took the stage for a high-energy, hand-clapping performance of Winehouse's "Valerie." The mood was far more celebratory than mournful; after all, it's not often a tribute to the deceased includes a snappy dance break. Nonetheless, it was one of the award show's high points, both for its emotional resonance and its retro showmanship.
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