The Great Gatsby And The Great Amy Winehouse: An Analysis

Amy Winehouse was fantastic. She was a brilliant artist whose long awaited 3rd album sadly never came. It would have been excellent. What she did produce in her short career was staggering and I still think she’s underrated. (Can you tell I’m a fan of Miss Winehouse yet? If you are too, you might like my 10 favorite Amy Winehouse moments.)

After a bit of a delay, Baz Lurhmann’s The Great Gatsby is finally coming out, and with it, a brilliant soundtrack. My problem with Lurhmann is that he’s always style over substance but that’s like saying my problem with the ocean is that it’s always wet. You expect these things. What one doesn’t expect is a soundtrack for 1920’s era The Great Gatsby to be composed of Lana Del Rey (awesome), the xx (awesome), Florence + The Machine, (awesome), Jack White (awesome), and will.i.am. and Fergie (awe–oh wait, no, this):

michael scott no gif

And then there’s Beyoncé. Beyoncé is going to cover Amy Winehouse’s “Back To Black” for the soundtrack.

I’m not going to go Michael Scott “NO” gif crazy on this, but the whole thing dismays me, like when a friend cancels on your plans 30 minutes before they’re supposed to happen but ends the text with a sincere, “I’m sorry girl I’m just in a really bad place right now xoxo” and you want to be angry and you have every right to be and you want answers but it’s not worth blowing out of proportion. That’s how I feel about this. There is no reason to Beyoncé-ify Amy Winehouse. Yeah, there’s no reason to cover any song, right, I get that. Sometimes song covers surprise you, like when Cake covered “I Will Survive” and sometimes they horrify you, like when Barbra Streisand covered “Life On Mars.”

But honestly, this seems stupid. I can understand why Lurhmann would want to use this song in his film; the lyrics and darkness of the song really relate to some of the themes in The Great Gatsby, with lines like,

And life is like a pipe / And I’m a tiny penny rolling up the walls inside

We only said goodbye with words / I died a thousand times

one thinks of the desperation Gatsby had to fit in and the desire Daisy had to be with him, but how in the end, despite all our efforts, all of our rolling up within our own walls, all of our inabilities to properly express our feelings, all of our empty goodbyes,

…we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

(YEAH! How’s that for an analysis, Ms. Pavliscak? That would have been a good paper, huh?)

The song is Winehouse. Her voice, her delivery, her pain, her signature jazz style, it’s all in there, it’s already perfect. It cannot be topped, it cannot be improved. Yes, I could be premature on this, absolutely. I haven’t heard Beyonce’s version yet. But I’m saying it regardless. It isn’t that Beyonce isn’t a good singer or artist. It’s that she’s not Amy Winehouse. There is only one, and she’s gone, and I don’t want to let her go.

Amy Winehouse photo by NRK P3 via Flickr.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=569816955 Clau Piña

    I totally agree with this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500618751 Tylar Hamblett

    I don’t know if I agree with it just for the simple fact that all of the trailers that have been released for this movie have a very unexpected cover in them. Jack White’s cover of Love is Blindness and Filter’s cover of Happy Together. So I wouldn’t put the kibosh on it quite so quickly!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548735920 Kimberley Jahn

    *So* with you on this one. I heard it in the trailer, and all I could think was, whyyyyy didn’t they just use the original?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=32819752 Tahanee Hasan

    I agree with you on Amy’s greatness, but I think you’re just fangirling about the Beyonce cover or Amy covers in general. I know the simple fact that I’m about to reference Glee discredits me somewhat, but I thought Naya Rivera’s cover of “Back to Black” was excellent. I actually wonder if Beyonce can top it without going over the top. I think you need to take a few deep breaths, or a few steps back for some perspective.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1423625649 Katie Sumner

    Covers are how music survives. We’ve only had recorded music for a little while. People heard something, it spread literally word of mouth, and eventually it was written down. A cover is compliment: it says that your music has the chance to survive.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=561656947 Amanda Milsom Reid

    I get that this is what Luhrmann does. He has artists cover OTHER artists’ songs for his soundtracks. But yeah, I’m thinking he could have picked someone else (hello, Amy’s school chum Adele?) to cover Ms. Winehouse.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1652421693 Amalia Pantazi

      Yes, an Amy Winehouse cover by Adele would be just perfect! I don’t like the Beyonce idea, but I’m still excited about the soundtrack and can’t wait to her it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=27001066 Nicole Pechiney

    Amy Winehouse, Adele, and Naya Rivera all have very soulful voices which can make me suffer or rejoice along with them. There’s no denying that Beyonce has and incredible set of pipes, but her voice has never transported me that way. Music is very personal of course, and my opinion that Amy Winehouse’s voice is superior to Beyonce’s obviously doesn’t dictate the vagaries of the world of cover songs.

    But “Back to Black” is a song meant to convey pain, and the 40 seconds I heard of this particular version in the newest trailer just sounded like electronic noise. Maybe Bey could’ve pulled it off by herself (the part where I hear her voice begin to rise sounds good), but throwing will.i.am in? I think it cheapens the song and takes away from the emotion behind it. I get that it’s about big names and money and looking out for your friends, but this is a new level of disappointing. I’m looking at you, Jay-Z.

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