Back to Black

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This article is about the album. Back to Black_sentence_0

For the song, see Back to Black (song). Back to Black_sentence_1

For the documentary film, see Amy Winehouse: Back to Black. Back to Black_sentence_2

For the band, see Back to Black (band). Back to Black_sentence_3

Not to be confused with Back in Black. Back to Black_sentence_4

Back to Black is the second and final studio album by English singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse, released on 27 October 2006 by Island Records. Back to Black_sentence_5

Winehouse predominantly based the album on her tumultuous relationship with then-ex-boyfriend and future husband Blake Fielder-Civil, who temporarily left her to pursue his previous ex-girlfriend. Back to Black_sentence_6

Their short-lived separation spurred her to create an album that explores themes of guilt, grief, infidelity and heartbreak in a relationship. Back to Black_sentence_7

Influenced by the pop and soul music of 1960s girl groups, Winehouse collaborated with producers Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson, along with Sharon Jones' band The Dap-Kings, to assist her on capturing the sounds from that time period while blending them with contemporary R&B and neo-soul music. Back to Black_sentence_8

Between 2005 and 2006, she recorded the album's songs with Remi at Instrumental Zoo Studios in Miami and then with Ronson and the Dap-Kings at Chung King Studios and Daptone Records in New York. Back to Black_sentence_9

Tom Elmhirst mixed the album at Metropolis Studios in London. Back to Black_sentence_10

Back to Black was acclaimed by music critics, who praised Winehouse's songwriting and emotive singing style as well as Remi and Ronson's production. Back to Black_sentence_11

The album spawned five singles: "Rehab", "You Know I'm No Good", "Back to Black", "Tears Dry on Their Own" and "Love Is a Losing Game". Back to Black_sentence_12

It has also been cited as being a key influence to the widespread popularity of British soul throughout the late 2000s, paving the musical landscape for artists such as Adele, Duffy, and Estelle. Back to Black_sentence_13

At the 2008 Grammy Awards, Back to Black won Best Pop Vocal Album and was also nominated for Album of the Year. Back to Black_sentence_14

At the same ceremony, Winehouse won four additional awards, tying her with five other artists as the second-most awarded female in a single ceremony. Back to Black_sentence_15

The album was also nominated at the 2007 Brit Awards for MasterCard British Album and was shortlisted for the 2007 Mercury Prize. Back to Black_sentence_16

Back to Black sold 3.58 million copies in the UK alone, becoming the UK's second best-selling album of the 21st century so far. Back to Black_sentence_17

The album has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Back to Black_sentence_18

A deluxe edition of Back to Black was released in November 2007, containing a bonus disc of B-sides and live tracks. Back to Black_sentence_19

Winehouse's debut DVD I Told You I Was Trouble: Live in London, released that same month, includes a live set recorded at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London and a 50-minute documentary detailing the singer's career over the previous four years. Back to Black_sentence_20

Background Back to Black_section_0

After signing with Island Records in 2002, Winehouse released her debut album, Frank, on 20 October 2003. Back to Black_sentence_21

She dedicated the album to her ex-boyfriend, Chris Taylor, as she gradually lost interest in him. Back to Black_sentence_22

Produced mainly by Salaam Remi, many songs were influenced by jazz, and apart from two cover versions, every song was co-written by Winehouse. Back to Black_sentence_23

The album received positive reviews, with compliments over the "cool, critical gaze" in its lyrics, while her vocals drew comparisons to Sarah Vaughan, Macy Gray and others. Back to Black_sentence_24

The album reached number 13 on the UK Albums Chart at the time of its release, and has been certified triple Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Back to Black_sentence_25

In 2004, Winehouse was nominated for British Female Solo Artist and British Urban Act at the Brit Awards, while Frank made the shortlist for the Mercury Prize. Back to Black_sentence_26

That same year, the album's first single, "Stronger Than Me", earned Winehouse and Remi an Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song. Back to Black_sentence_27

In a 2004 interview with The Observer, Winehouse expressed dissatisfaction with the album, stating that "some things on [the] album [made her] go to a little place that's fucking bitter". Back to Black_sentence_28

She further notes that the marketing was "fucked", the promotion was "terrible", and everything was "a shambles". Back to Black_sentence_29

In 2003, Winehouse dated Blake Fielder-Civil, who was an assistant on music video sets. Back to Black_sentence_30

Around the same time, she rediscovered the 1960s music she loved as a girl, stating in a 2007 Rolling Stone interview: "When I fell in love with Blake, there was Sixties music around us a lot." Back to Black_sentence_31

In 2005, the couple spent a lot of time in a local Camden bar, and during their time there, Winehouse would listen to blues, '60s girl groups, and Motown artists, explaining that "it was [her] local" and "spent a lot of time there [...] playing pool and listening to jukebox music." Back to Black_sentence_32

The music heard in the bar appealed to Winehouse when she was writing songs for her second album. Back to Black_sentence_33

Around the same year, she went through a period of drinking, heavy drug use, and weight loss. Back to Black_sentence_34

People who saw her during the end of that year and early 2006 reported a rebound that coincided with the writing of Back to Black. Back to Black_sentence_35

Her family believes that the mid-2006 death of her grandmother, who was a stabilising influence, set her off into addiction. Back to Black_sentence_36

Fielder-Civil then left Winehouse to revert to his previous girlfriend, leaving her in a "devastated" mood. Back to Black_sentence_37

In an interview with The Sun on the day of the album's release, Winehouse explained that she "shouldn't have been in a relationship with him because he was already involved with someone else a bit too close to home". Back to Black_sentence_38

During their break, she would write the bulk of the album on the state of her "relationship at the time with Blake [Fielder-Civil]" through themes of "grief, guilt, and heartache". Back to Black_sentence_39

Winehouse dated chef-musician Alex Clare briefly in 2006, and would later return to and marry Fielder-Civil in the following year. Back to Black_sentence_40

Recording and production Back to Black_section_1

Most of the songs on Back to Black were solely written by Winehouse, as her primary focus of the album's sound shifted more towards the style of the girl groups from the 1950s and 1960s. Back to Black_sentence_41

Winehouse worked with New York singer Sharon Jones's longtime band, the Dap-Kings, to back her up in the studio and on tour. Back to Black_sentence_42

Her father, Mitch Winehouse, relates in his memoir, Amy, My Daughter, how fascinating watching her process was, especially with witnessing her perfectionism in the studio. Back to Black_sentence_43

She would also put out what she had sung on a CD and play it in his taxi outside to know how most people would hear her music. Back to Black_sentence_44

In 2005, Winehouse returned to Miami (as she went there previously to produce her debut album) to record five songs at Salaam Remi's Instrumental Zoo Studios: "Tears Dry on Their Own", "Some Unholy War", "Me & Mr Jones", "Just Friends", and "Addicted". Back to Black_sentence_45

The recording process of Remi's album portion was "intimate", consisting of Winehouse singing while on guitar and Remi adding the other instruments played mostly by himself (chiefly played the piano and the main/bass guitars on the album), or by instrumentalist Vincent Henry (primarily played the saxophone, the flute, and the clarinet). Back to Black_sentence_46

Winehouse and producer Mark Ronson both shared a publishing company, which encouraged a meeting between the two. Back to Black_sentence_47

They conversed in March 2006 in Ronson's New York studio that he used to have. Back to Black_sentence_48

They worked on six tracks together: "Rehab", "Back to Black", "You Know I'm No Good", "Love Is a Losing Game", "Wake Up Alone", and "He Can Only Hold Her". Back to Black_sentence_49

Ronson said in a 2010 interview with The Guardian that he liked working with Winehouse because she was blunt when she did not like his work. Back to Black_sentence_50

She in turn thought that when they first met, he was a sound engineer and that she was expecting an "older man with a beard". Back to Black_sentence_51

Ronson wrote "Back to Black" the night after he met Winehouse, explaining in a 2010 Mojo interview: "I just thought, 'Let's talk about music, see what she likes.' Back to Black_sentence_52

She said she liked to go out to bars and clubs and play snooker with her boyfriend and listen to the Shangri-Las. Back to Black_sentence_53

So she played me some of those records ... Back to Black_sentence_54

I told her that I had nothing to play her right now but if she [lets] me work on something overnight she could come back tomorrow. Back to Black_sentence_55

So I came up with this little piano riff, which became the verse chords to 'Back to Black.' Back to Black_sentence_56

Behind it I just put a kick drum and a tambourine and tons of reverb." Back to Black_sentence_57

Winehouse's father later recalled the formulation of "Rehab" in his memoir: Back to Black_sentence_58

The majority of the songs produced by Ronson were completed at Daptone Records—along with the instrumental help of The Dap-Kings—in Brooklyn, New York. Back to Black_sentence_59

Three of the horn players from the group played a baritone saxophone, a tenor saxophone, and a trumpet. Back to Black_sentence_60

Ronson recorded the trio to create the "'60s-sounding metallics" on the album. Back to Black_sentence_61

The drums, piano, guitar, and bass were all done together in one room, with the drums being recorded with one microphone. Back to Black_sentence_62

There was also much spill between the instruments. Back to Black_sentence_63

Additional production of the album was located at Chung King and Allido Studios in New York City, and at Metropolis Records in London. Back to Black_sentence_64

In the Allido studio, Ronson used synthesisers and vintage keyboards to display the sound landscape for the album, including the Wurlitzer electric piano. Back to Black_sentence_65

In May of that year, Winehouse's demo tracks such as "You Know I'm No Good" and "Rehab" appeared on Mark Ronson's New York radio show on East Village Radio. Back to Black_sentence_66

These were some of the first new songs played on the radio after the release of "Pumps" and both were slated to appear on her second album. Back to Black_sentence_67

The 11-track album, completed in five months, was produced entirely by Remi and Ronson, with the production credits being split between them. Back to Black_sentence_68

Post-production Back to Black_section_2

Tom Elmhirst, who mixed the single "You Know I'm No Good", was enlisted to help with the mixing of the album at Metropolis Records. Back to Black_sentence_69

He first received Ronson's original mix, which he described as being "radical in terms of panning, kind of Beatlesque". Back to Black_sentence_70

He continued, "The drums, for instance, were all panned to one side". Back to Black_sentence_71

He attempted to mix "Love Is a Losing Game" in the same manner he did with "Rehab", but felt it was not right to do so. Back to Black_sentence_72

Elmhirst mixed "Rehab", but when he first received the multitrack of the song, the track amount was minimal. Back to Black_sentence_73

Therefore, Ronson went to London to record strings, brass and percussion in one of Metropolis' tracking rooms. Back to Black_sentence_74

After these instruments were added, the song had garnered a "retro, '60s soul, R&B" feel to it. Back to Black_sentence_75

Elmhirst added a contemporary sound to the song as well, while Ronson wanted to keep the mix sparse and not overproduced. Back to Black_sentence_76

The album was mastered by Stuart Hawkes at Metropolis. Back to Black_sentence_77

Music and lyrics Back to Black_section_3

Composition and sound Back to Black_section_4

Back to Black has been cited to have musical stylings of contemporary R&B, neo soul, reggae, classic R&B, and 1960s "pop and soul". Back to Black_sentence_78

According to AllMusic's John Bush, Back to Black finds Winehouse "deserting jazz and wholly embracing contemporary R&B". Back to Black_sentence_79

David Mead of Paste also viewed it as a departure from Frank and said that it sets her singing to Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson's "synthetic Motown-style backdrop". Back to Black_sentence_80

Meanwhile, Ann Powers from NPR Music characterised Back to Black as "a full embrace of classic rhythm and blues." Back to Black_sentence_81

Music journalist Chuck Eddy credits Ronson and Remi's production for resembling Phil Spector's Wall of Sound technique and surrounding Winehouse with brass and string sections, harp, and the Wurlitzer. Back to Black_sentence_82

PopMatters writer Christian John Wikane said that its "sensibilities of 1960s pop and soul" are contradicted by Winehouse's "blunt" lyrics and felt that "this particular marriage of words and music mirrors the bittersweet dichotomy that sometimes frames real relationships". Back to Black_sentence_83

The staff of The A.V. Back to Black_sentence_84 Club emphasized on "the record's status as the pinnacle of the Brit neo-soul wave it ushered in". Back to Black_sentence_85

Songs 1–6 Back to Black_section_5

The album's first song and single, "Rehab", is an upbeat, contemporary, and autobiographical song about Winehouse's past refusal to attend an alcohol rehabilitation centre after a conversation she had with her father, Mitch Winehouse. Back to Black_sentence_86

Previously, her management team prodded her to go to one. Back to Black_sentence_87

The song also contains "spring reverbs" on the lead vocals and drums to obtain a "retro feel", live "handclaps", timpanis, bells, and "slight vintage effects" on the piano and bass. Back to Black_sentence_88

Winehouse mentions "Ray" and "Mr. Hathaway", in reference to Ray Charles and Donny Hathaway. Back to Black_sentence_89

However, for some time during live performances, she replaced "Ray" with "Blake", referring to her ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, who served time in prison for charges relating to grievous bodily harm. Back to Black_sentence_90

"You Know I'm No Good" is an uptempo song about Winehouse cheating on a "good man that loves her", and therefore cheating herself out of a healthy relationship. Back to Black_sentence_91

The lyrics also entail Winehouse as being "helpless" while trying to understand and resist her own self-destructive compulsions. Back to Black_sentence_92

In the jazz and reggae-influenced "Me and Mr Jones" song, Winehouse sings about accepting that she never made it to a Slick Rick concert, but yet refuses to skip a Nas show as they were both close friends (Nas' last name is Jones). Back to Black_sentence_93

The song's title plays off the 1972 "Me and Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul. Back to Black_sentence_94

In a 2011 XXL interview, Nas recollects: "I don't really remember if Salaam, who was really close to her [Winehouse], who introduced us, if he told me about it ["Mr Jones" being based on Nas] or not [...] But, I heard a lot about it before I even heard the song." Back to Black_sentence_95

Winehouse cursed about the relationship between her and Nas in the song's first chorus ("What kind of fuckery is this?" Back to Black_sentence_96

/ "You made me miss the Slick Rick gig") and in later ones as well. Back to Black_sentence_97

In a Genius commentary, Island Records president Darcus Beese added that the original track was titled "Fuckery" from both Remi and Winehouse. Back to Black_sentence_98

He then continues, "I remember saying to Amy and Salaam, "You can't call this song 'Fuckery' [...] Salaam was more of the grown up of the two but Amy was like, 'Well, why can't I?' Back to Black_sentence_99

[...] That's why I always say, you have to give everything you're thinking and give people something that's exciting." Back to Black_sentence_100

The fourth song on the album, "Just Friends", is about "[a woman] trying to pull away from an illicit affair", with lyrics indicating, "The guilt will kill you if she don't first". Back to Black_sentence_101

It is a "ska-soul" song with a "pulsing reggae groove" throughout the track. Back to Black_sentence_102

Jon Pareles of The New York Times elaborates that Winehouse makes songs such as "Just Friends" into "games of tone and phrasing [...] withholding a line and then breezing through it, stretching out a note over [her backing band]'s steady beat". Back to Black_sentence_103

The eponymous track "Back to Black" explores elements of old-school soul music. Back to Black_sentence_104

The song's sound and beat have been described as similar to vintage girl groups from the 1960s. Back to Black_sentence_105

Its production was noted for its Wall of Sound. Back to Black_sentence_106

Winehouse expresses feelings of hurt and bitterness for a boyfriend who has left her; however, throughout the lyrics she "remains strong" exemplified in the opening lines, "He left no time to regret, Kept his d_ck sic wet, With his same old safe bet, Me and my head high, And my tears dry, Get on without my guy". Back to Black_sentence_107

The song was inspired by her relationship with Fielder-Civil, who had left Winehouse for an ex-girlfriend. Back to Black_sentence_108

The breakup left her going to "black", which to the listener may appear to refer to drinking and depression. Back to Black_sentence_109

However, the "black" she refers to is more likely heroin, which she was openly addicted to. Back to Black_sentence_110

The song's lyrical content consists of a sad goodbye to a relationship with the lyrics being frank. Back to Black_sentence_111

John Murphy of musicOMH compared the song's introduction to the Martha and the Vandellas song "Jimmy Mack", adding that it continues to a "much darker place". Back to Black_sentence_112

"Love Is a Losing Game" is a sentimental ballad that invokes Winehouse's chosen metaphor as a pastime that could be "addictive and destructive". Back to Black_sentence_113

Alexis Petridis of The Guardian further explains, "Over a solitary electric guitar and subtle drums, [Winehouse's] voice takes centre stage to [set] out her resigned viewpoint that, as with gambling, you can only love for so long before ending up the loser". Back to Black_sentence_114

Songs 7–11 Back to Black_section_6

The song "Tears Dry on Their Own" samples the main chord progression from Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's 1967 song "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". Back to Black_sentence_115

Remi stated that he thought the album needed something "up-tempo" and suggested to Winehouse that she procure a "slower, sadder conception" of the song. Back to Black_sentence_116

Laura Barton of The Guardian explicated the track as Winehouse giving herself a stern "talking-to" with lyrics such as, "I cannot play myself again, I should be my own best friend" and "Not fuck myself in the head with stupid men". Back to Black_sentence_117

The HelloBeautiful staff views "Wake Up Alone", written by both Winehouse and Paul O'Duffy, as another sentimental ballad that "chronicles [the] time right after a breakup [and] when you're trying not to think of the person by keeping busy." Back to Black_sentence_118

They add, "[B]ut when night time comes, so do [the] thoughts of said person." Back to Black_sentence_119

Winehouse spent a month in O'Duffy's North London studio working on tracks of the album, and "Wake Up Alone" was the first song recorded during the sessions and the only tune that made it onto the album. Back to Black_sentence_120

A "one-take" demo of the song recorded in March 2006 by O'Duffy later appeared on Winehouse's posthumous album, Lioness: Hidden Treasures. Back to Black_sentence_121

Nick Shymansky, Winehouse's first manager, revealed that the inspiration of "Some Unholy War", a mid-tempo soul song, came into fruition after Winehouse heard a radio broadcast on the War in Afghanistan. Back to Black_sentence_122

As she heard the term "holy war", a war being primarily caused or justified by differences in religion, Winehouse immediately thought of an idea to spin the religious conflict into her own personal issues with Fielder-Civil. Back to Black_sentence_123

The idea is further bolstered with the song's opening lines, "If my man was fighting some unholy war, I would be behind him". Back to Black_sentence_124

Usually in live performances, she would start with the slower version of the song before proceeding into a more uptempo version. Back to Black_sentence_125

"He Can Only Hold Her" interpolates "(My Girl) She's a Fox" by brothers Robert and Richard Poindexter. Back to Black_sentence_126

Joshua Klein of Pitchfork describes Winehouse in the song as "an objective observer, [and] able to see her personal issues for what they are". Back to Black_sentence_127

The chorus goes, "So he tries to pacify her, 'cause what's inside her never dies". Back to Black_sentence_128

Klein assumes that from "this new vantage [,] Winehouse has moved on". Back to Black_sentence_129

John Harrison, the original demo producer of "He Can Only Hold Her", explained at a BIMM London masterclass that he was "introduced to '(My Girl) She's a Fox' by his sister". Back to Black_sentence_130

He then played the song for Winehouse and, when she expressed interest, made a backing track for her. Back to Black_sentence_131

Harrison was not originally given a writing credit on Back to Black, so he sued Winehouse for copyright infringement. Back to Black_sentence_132

They had a settlement over the song, and eventually, his name was added to the track. Back to Black_sentence_133

The initial Back to Black liner notes only said: "Original demo produced by P*Nut [John Harrison's nickname]." Back to Black_sentence_134

"Addicted", a bonus track included on the expanded versions of Back to Black, pertains to Winehouse's experiences with marijuana. Back to Black_sentence_135

"I used to smoke a lot of weed", the singer told Rolling Stone in 2007. Back to Black_sentence_136

"I suppose if you have an addictive personality [,] then you go from one poison to the other." Back to Black_sentence_137

Release and promotion Back to Black_section_7

Back to Black was released on 27 October 2006. Back to Black_sentence_138

A deluxe edition of Back to Black was released in mainland Europe in November 2007 and in the United Kingdom on 3 December 2007. Back to Black_sentence_139

The reissue features the original studio album remastered as well as a bonus disc containing various B-sides and live tracks, including Winehouse's solo rendition of the single "Valerie" on BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge; the song was originally available in studio form on Ronson's Version album. Back to Black_sentence_140

Winehouse's debut DVD I Told You I Was Trouble: Live in London was released in the UK on 5 November and in the US on 13 November. Back to Black_sentence_141

It includes a live set recorded at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire and a 50-minute documentary chronicling the singer's career over the previous four years. Back to Black_sentence_142

The first single released from the album on 23 October 2006 was "Rehab". Back to Black_sentence_143

On 22 October 2006, based solely on download sales, it entered the UK Singles Chart at number 19, and when the physical single was released the following week, it climbed to number seven. Back to Black_sentence_144

Following a performance of "Rehab" at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards on 3 June 2007, the song rose to number 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100 for the week of 23 June, peaking at number nine the following week. Back to Black_sentence_145

"You Know I'm No Good" was released on 8 January 2007 as the album's second single, reaching number 18 on the UK Singles Chart. Back to Black_sentence_146

Back to Black was released in the United States in March 2007, with a remix of "You Know I'm No Good" featuring rap vocals by Ghostface Killah as its lead single. Back to Black_sentence_147

A third UK single, "Back to Black", was released on 30 April 2007. Back to Black_sentence_148

Having previously peaked at number 25 on the UK chart, the track climbed to number eight in late July 2011, following Winehouse's death. Back to Black_sentence_149

Two further singles were released from the album: "Tears Dry on Their Own" was released on 13 August 2007, and peaked at number 16 in the UK, while "Love Is a Losing Game", released on 10 December 2007, reached number 33. Back to Black_sentence_150

Touring Back to Black_section_8

Winehouse promoted the release of Back to Black with headline performances in late 2006, including a Little Noise Sessions charity concert at the Union Chapel in Islington, London. Back to Black_sentence_151

On 31 December 2006, Winehouse appeared on Jools Holland's Annual Hootenanny and performed a cover of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" along with Paul Weller and Holland's Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. Back to Black_sentence_152

She also performed Toots and the Maytals' "Monkey Man". Back to Black_sentence_153

At his request, actor Bruce Willis introduced Winehouse before her performance of "Rehab" at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards in Universal City, California, on 3 June 2007. Back to Black_sentence_154

During the summer of 2007, she performed at various festivals, including Glastonbury Festival, Lollapalooza in Chicago, Belgium's Rock Werchter, and Virgin Festival in Baltimore. Back to Black_sentence_155

In November 2007, the opening night of a 17-date tour was marred by booing and walkouts at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham. Back to Black_sentence_156

A critic for the Birmingham Mail said it was "one of the saddest nights of my life [...] I saw a supremely talented artist reduced to tears, stumbling around the stage and, unforgivably, swearing at the audience." Back to Black_sentence_157

Other concerts ended similarly, with, for example, fans at her Hammersmith Apollo performance saying that she "looked highly intoxicated throughout", until she announced on 27 November 2007 that her performances and public appearances were cancelled for the remainder of the year, citing her doctor's advice to take a complete rest. Back to Black_sentence_158

A statement issued by concert promoter Live Nation blamed "the rigours involved in touring and the intense emotional strain that Amy has been under in recent weeks" for the decision. Back to Black_sentence_159

Mitch Winehouse wrote about her nervousness before public performances in his 2012 book, Amy, My Daughter. Back to Black_sentence_160

Critical reception Back to Black_section_9

Back to Black_table_general_0

Professional ratingsBack to Black_table_caption_0
Aggregate scoresBack to Black_header_cell_0_0_0
SourceBack to Black_header_cell_0_1_0 RatingBack to Black_header_cell_0_1_1
MetacriticBack to Black_cell_0_2_0 81/100Back to Black_cell_0_2_1
Review scoresBack to Black_header_cell_0_3_0
SourceBack to Black_header_cell_0_4_0 RatingBack to Black_header_cell_0_4_1
AllMusicBack to Black_cell_0_5_0 Back to Black_cell_0_5_1
The A.V. ClubBack to Black_cell_0_6_0 A−Back to Black_cell_0_6_1
Entertainment WeeklyBack to Black_cell_0_7_0 A−Back to Black_cell_0_7_1
The GuardianBack to Black_cell_0_8_0 Back to Black_cell_0_8_1
The IndependentBack to Black_cell_0_9_0 Back to Black_cell_0_9_1
The ObserverBack to Black_cell_0_10_0 Back to Black_cell_0_10_1
PitchforkBack to Black_cell_0_11_0 6.4/10Back to Black_cell_0_11_1
QBack to Black_cell_0_12_0 Back to Black_cell_0_12_1
Rolling StoneBack to Black_cell_0_13_0 Back to Black_cell_0_13_1
The TimesBack to Black_cell_0_14_0 Back to Black_cell_0_14_1

Back to Black received widespread acclaim from critics. Back to Black_sentence_161

At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 81, based on 26 reviews. Back to Black_sentence_162

AllMusic writer John Bush lauded Winehouse's musical transition from her debut record: "All the best parts of her musical character emerge intact, and actually, are all the better for the transformation from jazz vocalist to soul siren." Back to Black_sentence_163

Dorian Lynskey of The Guardian called Back to Black "a 21st-century soul classic". Back to Black_sentence_164

Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine said that Winehouse and her producers are "expert mood-setters or crafty reconstructionists". Back to Black_sentence_165

The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones praised Winehouse's "mush-mouthed approach [on the album]". Back to Black_sentence_166

Nathan Rabin, writing in The A.V. Back to Black_sentence_167 Club, was impressed by "the incongruity between Winehouse's trifling lyrical concerns and Back To Black's wall-of-sound richness". Back to Black_sentence_168

Entertainment Weekly's Will Hermes felt that her "smartass" lyrics "raise [the album] into the realm of true, of-the-minute originality". Back to Black_sentence_169

Douglas Wolk, writing for Blender, said that the album "sounds fantastic—partly because the production nails sample-ready '60s soul right down to the drum sound [...] Winehouse is one hell of an impressive singer, especially when she's not copping other people's phrasing". Back to Black_sentence_170

Some reviewers were more critical of the album. Back to Black_sentence_171

In a mixed review, Rolling Stone's Christian Hoard stated: "The tunes don't always hold up. Back to Black_sentence_172

But the best ones are impossible to dislike." Back to Black_sentence_173

Robert Christgau gave it an "honorable mention" in his consumer guide for MSN Music, citing "You Know I'm No Good" and "Rehab" as highlights and writing, "Pray her marriage lasts—she's observant, and it would broaden her perspective". Back to Black_sentence_174

Pitchfork critic Joshua Klein criticised Winehouse's "defensive", subjective lyrics concerning relationships, but added that "Winehouse has been blessed by a brassy voice that can transform even mundane sentiments into powerful statements". Back to Black_sentence_175

Accolades Back to Black_section_10

Back to Black was named one of the 10 best albums of 2006 and 2007 by several publications on their year-end albums lists, including Time (number one), Entertainment Weekly (number two), Billboard (number three), The New York Times (number three), The Austin Chronicle (number four), Slant Magazine (number four), and Blender (number eight). Back to Black_sentence_176

The album was placed at number 40 on Rolling Stone's list of The Top 50 Albums of 2007. Back to Black_sentence_177

Entertainment Weekly critic Chris Willman named Back to Black the second best album of 2007, commenting that "Black will hold up as one of the great breakthrough CDs of our time." Back to Black_sentence_178

He adds, "In the end, the singer's real-life heartache over her incarcerated spouse proves what's obvious from the grooves: When this lady sings about love, she means every word." Back to Black_sentence_179

Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Albums of the 2000s ranked the album number 20. Back to Black_sentence_180

At the 2007 Brit Awards, Winehouse won British Female Solo Artist, and Back to Black was nominated for MasterCard British Album. Back to Black_sentence_181

In July 2007, the album was shortlisted for the 2007 Mercury Prize, but lost out to Klaxons' Myths of the Near Future. Back to Black_sentence_182

This was the second time that Winehouse was nominated for the Mercury Prize; her debut album Frank was shortlisted in 2004. Back to Black_sentence_183

Back to Black won numerous awards at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards on 10 February 2008, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year for "Rehab"; while the album received nominations for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album, winning the latter. Back to Black_sentence_184

Winehouse herself, for the album, was presented the Grammy for Best New Artist, while Ronson earned the 2008 Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. Back to Black_sentence_185

Commercial performance Back to Black_section_11

Back to Black debuted at number three on the UK Albums Chart on 5 November 2006 with first-week sales of 43,021 copies. Back to Black_sentence_186

The album reached number one for the first time during the week ending 20 January 2007, its 11th week on the chart, selling over 35,500 copies. Back to Black_sentence_187

The following week, it remained at number one with nearly 48,000 copies sold. Back to Black_sentence_188

Five weeks later, it returned for a third week atop the UK chart, selling 47,000 copies. Back to Black_sentence_189

Back to Black was the best-selling album of 2007 in the UK, having sold 1.85 million copies. Back to Black_sentence_190

The BPI certified the album 13-times Platinum on 30 March 2018, and by October 2018, it had sold 3.93 million copies, making it the UK's second best-selling album of the 21st century so far, as well as the 12th best-selling album in the UK of all time. Back to Black_sentence_191

Back to Black debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200 in the United States with first-week sales of 51,000 copies, becoming the highest debut entry for an album by a British female solo artist at the time—a record that would be broken by Joss Stone's Introducing Joss Stone, which debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 the following week. Back to Black_sentence_192

Following Winehouse's multiple wins at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards, the album jumped from number 24 to a new peak of number two on the Billboard 200 chart issue dated 1 March 2008 with sales of 115,000 copies. Back to Black_sentence_193

The album was certified double-Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on 12 March 2008, and has since sold nearly three million copies in the US. Back to Black_sentence_194

Back to Black topped the European Top 100 Albums chart for 13 non-consecutive weeks, while reaching number one in several European countries such as Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Ireland, and Switzerland. Back to Black_sentence_195

The album was certified eight-times Platinum by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) in late 2011, denoting sales of eight million copies across Europe. Back to Black_sentence_196

By September 2018, the album had sold over 16 million copies worldwide. Back to Black_sentence_197

Following Winehouse's death on 23 July 2011, sales of Back to Black drastically increased across the world. Back to Black_sentence_198

The album rose to number one on several iTunes charts worldwide. Back to Black_sentence_199

On 24 July 2011, with fewer than seven hours sales after the announcement of her death counting towards the respective week's chart figures, the album re-entered the UK Albums Chart at number 49 with 2,446 copies sold. Back to Black_sentence_200

The following week, it soared back to number one, marking the fourth time the album had reached the top of the chart. Back to Black_sentence_201

Back to Black held the top spot for two additional weeks. Back to Black_sentence_202

On 26 July 2011, Billboard reported that the album had re-entered the Billboard 200 chart dated 6 August 2011 at number nine with sales of 37,000 copies, although that week's chart only tracked the first 36 hours of sales after her death was announced. Back to Black_sentence_203

The following week, it climbed to number seven with 38,000 copies sold after a full week's worth of sales. Back to Black_sentence_204

In Canada, the album re-entered the Canadian Albums Chart at number 13 on sales of 2,500 copies. Back to Black_sentence_205

It rose to number six the following week, selling an additional 5,000 copies. Back to Black_sentence_206

In continental Europe, Back to Black returned to the number-one spot in Austria, Croatia, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland, while reaching number one for the first time in Italy. Back to Black_sentence_207

Impact and legacy Back to Black_section_12

After the release of Back to Black, record companies sought out more experimental female artists. Back to Black_sentence_208

Adele and Duffy were the second wave of artists with a sound similar to Winehouse's. Back to Black_sentence_209

A third wave of female musicians that has emerged since the album was released are led by V V Brown, Florence and the Machine, La Roux and Little Boots. Back to Black_sentence_210

During the nearly three-year period since Back to Black was released, Dan Cairns of The Sunday Times noted that there was a "notion [by A&R executives, radio playlisters and the public] that women are the driving commercial force in pop". Back to Black_sentence_211

In March 2011, the New York Daily News ran an article attributing the continuing wave of British female artists that have been successful in the United States to Winehouse and her absence. Back to Black_sentence_212

Spin magazine music editor Charles Aaron was quoted as saying, "Amy Winehouse was the Nirvana moment for all these women [...] They can all be traced back to her in terms of attitude, musical styles or fashion." Back to Black_sentence_213

According to Keith Caulfield, chart manager for Billboard, "Because of Amy, or the lack thereof, the marketplace was able to get singers like Adele, Estelle and Duffy [...] Now those ladies have brought on the new ones, like Eliza Doolittle, Rumer and Ellie [Goulding." Back to Black_sentence_214

Linda Barnard of The Toronto Star finds Winehouse to be amongst "the British women who claimed chart-topping ownership [...] with powerful voices" and that her "impressive" five Grammy wins for Back to Black put her at the "pinnacle of pop music". Back to Black_sentence_215

In 2020, Rolling Stone ranked the album at number 33 on its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Back to Black_sentence_216

The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Back to Black_sentence_217

In a retrospective review for Rolling Stone in 2010, Douglas Wolk gave the album four-and-a-half out of five stars and referred to it as "an unlikely marvel, a desperately sad and stirring record whose hooks and production (by Remi and Mark Ronson) are worthy of the soul hall-of-famers she namedrops—'Tears Dry on Their Own' is basically 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' recast as self-recrimination". Back to Black_sentence_218

In a 2019 poll of music writers conducted by The Guardian, "Back to Black" placed first in a ranking of the best albums of the 21st Century. Back to Black_sentence_219

Documentary Back to Black_section_13

In September 2018, a documentary film based on Back to Black, titled Amy Winehouse: Back to Black, was released. Back to Black_sentence_220

It contains new interviews, as well as archival footage. Back to Black_sentence_221

It was made by Eagle Vision, produced by Gil Cang, and released on DVD on 2 November 2018. Back to Black_sentence_222

The film features interviews by producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi, who worked half and half on the album, along with the Dap-Kings, Remi's music team, singer from The Ronettes, Ronnie Spector and close friends of Winehouse, including Nick Shymansky, Juliette Ashby and Dionne Bromfield. Back to Black_sentence_223

The film is accompanied by An Intimate Evening in London, footage of a show Winehouse gave at Riverside Studios in London in 2008. Back to Black_sentence_224

Track listing Back to Black_section_14

All tracks written by Amy Winehouse, except where noted Back to Black_sentence_225


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back to Black.