Back to Black

Music review by
Jim Welte, Common Sense Media
Back to Black Music Poster Image
Soul-drenched jazz and funk from Brit boozer.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 16 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Primarily deals with Winehouse's up and down relationships with men, booze, and weed.

Violence
Sex

Several veiled references, including mention of an ex-lover's penchant for getting his "d--k wet."

Language

A generous helping of four-letter words ("f--k" and "s--t"), including the rarely heard "f--kery."

Consumerism

Name-drops a couple of liquor brands, including Tanqueray.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many alcohol and pot references, including a song about her decision to skip rehab and another in which she declares her love for weed above all else.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Amy Winehouse is one of the most gifted soul singers to come along in years, with a fantastic voice and loads of songwriting talent. But that gift lives within a person who, if the songs are indeed autobiographical as she claims, loves to abuse alcohol, weed, and men. The lyrics are deceptively vulgar at times, but that strike against her isn't enough to outweigh the fact that this is a phenomenal album of classic soul music.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byShannaCantu August 12, 2011

I adore her.

I adore this album. It is a little racy and it borderlines glorification of drugs and alcohol, but critically thinking teens will listen to her music with a tho... Continue reading
Adult Written byhappysadfun April 15, 2011

LOVE Amy, but she's pretty brash.

This is absolutely, without a doubt, the best soul album to come out in quite some time. The lyrics can be quite vulgar, however. If your kid is into soul then... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byFathomT May 8, 2015

Stellar album, talk to kids after each song

Amy Winehouse's second album is truly amazing. The songs are well written, though vulgar, and her voice is strong. My personal favorite song on the album i... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bysouplover98 September 25, 2013

RIP

I was listening to her at 10/11 so why not! Young kids won't even understand what the lyrics are about anyway! She was fab, RIP <3

What's the story?

Listeners of BACK TO BLACK may at first think they've come across some re-released oldies from the Motown canon, mixed in with a few hip-hop influenced songs. Amy Winehouse's voice ranges from sweet to husky, and the production from Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson is wonderfully retro -- full of horn stabs, jazz guitar riffs, piano arpeggios, and classic doo-wop harmonies. Additional listens unveil a remarkably layered personality and songwriting palate. Winehouse shows off a disarmingly tart tongue, brutally dishing out abuse to the other sex, as on "Me & Mr. Jones," which employs the rarely used profanity, "F--kery." She recounts her adulterous transgressions with self-deprecating wit on "You Know I'm No Good," which features a cameo rap verse by Ghostface Killah.

Is it any good?

Like many great albums -- and this is the best soul record to come out since 1998's Miseducation of Lauryn Hill -- Amy Winehouse's Back to Black gets better with each play. As you dig deeper into the songs, you'll see a woman who is deep, self-aware, and even devoted at times. This CD has it all: soul-drenched jazz and funk music, a dynamic voice, and well-written songs. It couldn't come any more highly recommended.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Winehouse's various views on love, from scorned and adulterous to vigorously loyal. But most of all, Winehouse offers a nearly transparent view into the psyche of someone who imbibes in more than her fair share of alcohol and pot. These songs show a woman perfectly aware of her vices but unwilling to change. There's a lifetime's worth of conversations in that subject matter: Is experimentation with alcohol and pot at a certain age okay? What does drinking responsibly mean? How do you know when it's a problem?

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