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Amy Winehouse
Writer(s) Amy Winehouse
Mark Ronson
Producer(s) Mark Ronson
Length 4:01
From BTB-Logo
Singles "Rehab"
"You Know I'm No Good"
"Back to Black"
"Tears Dry on Their Own"
"Love Is a Losing Game"
Back to Black track listing
"Love Is a Losing Game"

"Back to Black" is a song by English recording artist Amy Winehouse. It was released by Island Records on 30 April 2007 as the third single from her second studio album of the same name (2006). The song was written by Winehouse and Mark Ronson and produced by Ronson. Winehouse's "Back to Black" was inspired by her relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil who had left Winehouse for an ex-girlfriend.

"Back to Black" received universal acclaim by music critics who generally praised its throwback sound to girl groups from the 1960s. It was included on several compiled year and decade-end lists of the best in music and was further considered to be one of the singer's signature songs. The single peaked at number eight on the UK Singles Chart in the United Kingdom and is Winehouse's third best-selling single in that country. Many cover versions by various artists were recorded for the song; most notably, Beyoncé and André 3000 covered it for the soundtrack of the 2013 film adaptation of the novel The Great Gatsby (1925).

Background and composition Edit

"Back to Black" was written by Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson with the latter also serving as its producer. The track was recorded in three studios – Chung King Studios and Daptone Studios located in New York City and Metropolis Studios in London. "Back to Black" was inspired by her relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil. He had left Winehouse for an ex-girlfriend, leaving her going to "black" with drinking and depression.

"Back to Black" explores elements of old school soul music. The song's sound and beat have been described as similar to vintage girl groups from the 1960s. Its production was noted for its Wall of Sound. 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 dick wet, With his same old safe bet, Me and my head high, And my tears dry, Get on without my guy". The song's lyrical content consists of a sad goodbye to a relationship with the lyrics being frank. Slant Magazine writer Sal Cinquemani suggested that the protagonist's lover may be committed to cocaine instead of another woman. John Murphy of musicOMH compared the song's introduction to songs by Jimmy Mack, adding that it continues to a "much darker place" than the aforementioned artist's work.

Critical reception Edit

The song has received critical acclaim by music critics. A writer from the website 4Music awarded the song ten stars out of ten in a review saying it managed to be as good as the 1960s girl group classics from which it was influenced. The writer went on to praise the "thoroughly modern Amy, who writes her own songs about love and sex and drugs and knows her own mind, but still gets hurt in a way only grown-ups can get hurt". Matt Harvey from BBC felt that the song owed to the "sonic heritage" of singers Phil Spector and Scott Walker and went on to call it "a tortured monster of a track - Amy displaying the sort of vocal depth that Marc Almond has always dreamed of". AllMusic writer John Bush found universality in the song and opined that even Joss Stone could take it to the top of the music charts. Alex Denney from the website Drowned in Sound found "grit and gravitas" in Back to Black best shown in its title song with a "heart-stopping shuffle" and lyrics about a man's philander.

In 2007, the song was included at the position of 39 on Popjustice's list of the year's best in music. Slant Magazine also mentioned it in their respective list of the best singles of the year, with Sal Cinquemani writing, "[It] is not only the singer's finest moment but producer Mark Ronson's as well". Writers of Rolling Stone magazine placed "Back to Black" at number 98 on their list of the 100 best songs of the 2000s praising Winehouse's trademark "stormily soulful" vocals and the updated sensibility. NME editors listed it at 61 on an eponomyous list for the magazine, writing that the song proved the album's real depth and added, "Hard faced and broken-souled, its knowing wallowing spoke to anyone who'd ever had a bunnyboiler moment". "Back to Black" was further considered to be one of Winehouse's signature songs. Justin Myers writing for the Official Charts Companyremarked that it was the singer's most "anguished" song while also being "[h]eartbreakingly autobiographical" at the same time. Tim Chester of NME also wrote that "Back to Black" was a song by which the singer should be remembered following her death, with Motown influence in her trademark vocal performance along with its powerful lyrics.

Commercial performance Edit

Pre-release, the song charted in the UK Singles Chart on downloads alone for five consecutive weeks, peaking at number 40. The single charted at number 25 in 2007 once it had been released in physical format which also became its peak position in that country. The song has spent 34 non-consecutive weeks on the UK Singles Chart to date. It has re-entered with "Rehab" together on the chart. The song featured on BBC Radio 1's The B List Playlist during the week commencing 2 May. With sales of 96,000, "Back to Black" finished as the UK's 85th biggest-selling single of 2007. On 31 July 2011, following her death, the song re-entered the UK Singles Chart at 8, also giving the song a new peak position and second top ten hit in UK. As of September 2014, "Back to Black" has sold 340.000 copies in the UK and is Winehouse's third best-selling single in that country.

Music video Edit

The music video was directed by Phil Griffin and features a funeral procession in which Winehouse mourns over a grave that reads "R.I.P. the Heart of Amy Winehouse". The shot of the headstone was edited out after the singer's death in 2011. The video was primarily shot nearby Gibson Gardens and Chesholm Road in Stoke Newington, London. The graveyard scenes were filmed at Abney Park Cemetery in north-east London. According the official Winehouse website, "Amy's sultry new video for Back In Black [sic] is both beautifully and artistically shot in black-and-white and compares in imagery a doomed love affair with that of a funeral." At the 2007 Music of Black Origin Awards (MOBO), the music video for the song was nominated in the category for Best Video but lost to Kanye West's "Stronger" (2007). Myers of the Official Charts Company deemed the clip "super-sad" and felt it went further on the song's main theme of goodbye.

Amy Winehouse - Back To Black

Amy Winehouse - Back To Black


Usage in media Edit

During 2007, the song was also used various times for TV trail campaigns, such as for BBC's Philip Pullman adaptation The Shadow in the North in December 2007. Phil Tufnelland his dance partner Katya Virshilas performed a tango to "Back to Black" in the seventh series of Strictly Come Dancing. A sample of "Back to Black" was used by screamo band Comadre in the song "Binge", which is about Amy Winehouse and the downward spiral leading to her death. The song was used as part of Mexican telenovela Llena de Amor for English-born Mexican actress Azela Robinson for her stripper character (La Reina). The song was used in a Canadian trailer for the BBC America/Space program Orphan Black. In 2013, "Back to Black" was included on the soundtrack of the film About Time (2013). The song was used in the teaser trailer and official trailer for the documentary film about Winehouse, Amy.

Track listing Edit

UK CD single Edit

  1. "Back to Black" – 4:01
  2. "Valerie" (Jo Whiley Live Lounge) – 3:53
  3. "Hey Little Rich Girl" – 3:33
  4. "Back to Black" (Video)

UK limited edition white 7" single Edit

  1. "Back to Black" – 4:00
  2. "Back to Black" (The Rumble Strips Remix) – 3:48

Digital download – Remixes & B-sides EP Edit

  1. "Back to Black" (The Rumble Strips Remix) – 3:49
  2. "Back to Black" (Mushtaq Vocal Remix) – 4:03
  3. "Back to Black" (Original Demo) – 3:01
  4. "Back to Black" (Vodafone Live at TBA) – 3:53
  5. "Back to Black" (Steve Mac Vocal) – 6:03

UK 12" maxi single Edit

  1. "Back to Black" (Steve Mac Vocal) – 6:12
  2. "Back to Black" (Steve Mac Smack Dub) – 6:15
  3. "Back to Black" (Album version) – 4:00
  4. "Back to Black" (Mushtaq Vocal Remix) – 4:03

Digital download Edit

  1. "Back to Black" (Original Demo)

Lyrics Edit

He left no time to regret
Kept his dick wet
With his same old safe bet
Me and my head high
And my tears dry
Get on without my guy

You went back to what you knew
So far removed from all that we went through
And I tread a troubled track
My odds are stacked
I'll go back to black

We only said goodbye with words
I died a hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to...

I go back to us

I love you much
It's not enough
You love blow and I love puff
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 hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to...

We only said goodbye with words
I died a hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to...

Black, black, black, black, black, black, black,
I go back to...
I go back to...

We only said goodbye with words
I died a hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to...

We only said goodbye with words
I died a hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to black

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