Back to Black Music Poster Image

Back to Black

(i)

 

Soul-drenched jazz and funk from Brit boozer.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

Violence
Not applicable
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.

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.

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?

QUALITY

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.

Families can talk 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?

Music details

Artist:Amy Winehouse
Release date:March 13, 2007
Label:Universal Republic
Genre:Soul
Parental advisory:Yes
Edited version available:Yes

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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 is "Back to Black," although all of them are great. That does NOT mean you should share this with a child. There are several sexual allusions throughout, including something about a lover keeping "his d--k wet." She swears a LOT on this album, including the word f--kery. She also clearly loves booze and weed. The song "Rehab" sends a terrible message, but you can take time after the song ends to remind children how Winehouse died. The song "Addicted", once unavailable into the U.S, is about a boyfriend dating a girl to take her weed, and it becomes apparent that her drugs are more important than her man. This album is great, but think before you share. TRACK BY TRACK Rehab: Very catchy, but lyrics are a troubling account of her refusal to go to rehab. You Know That I'm No Good: Hip hop influenced tune deconstructing her infidelity with razor sharp self depreciating wit Me & Mr. Jones: Catchy, 50's inspired, but angry (and profane) tale of some guy that made Amy "miss the Slick Rick gig" at some music festival. Just Friends: Lyrically, this song speaks of a relationship in which Mrs. Winehouse is the other woman. Heartbreaking and beautiful, this song took a while for me to love, but I now see it as a highlight. Back to Black: Absolute perfection. It crushes my soul and makes me want to dance simultaneously. Despite its girl group influence, the lyrics are VERY dirty, with a line about someone keeping his d--k wet and the title probably referencing heroin. Love is a Losing Game: While the vocals, melody, and production are beautiful, the lyrics take center stage in this poetic downtempo ballad. While sending a very negative message about love, this is probably the cleanest song on the album. Tears Dry On Their Own: Very catchy, with Amy at the top of her vocal game. This song does, however, contain a profane way of saying that she masturbated. Wake Up Alone: Haunting vocal performance. Otherwise, it took me a while to love this song, despite its poetic beauty. Some Unholy War: Least favorite song on the album. In six months, I'll probably love it, but it's still growing on me. He Can Only Hold Her: Winehouse sounds joyous in her narration of a dysfunctional couple's eventual demise. Addicted: Oddly beautiful melody over Amy's tale of a her boyfriend's tendency to use all her marajuana only recently available in the states.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
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
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 thoughtful ear, and make positive conclusions about the use of drugs and alcohol. Her honesty is very refreshing and serves as a powerful cautionary tale. It's bluesy and full of soul. She is a wonderful artist, and an amazing lyricst. Her use of words would be inspiring to any aspiring writers and musicians.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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