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"Rehab" is a song by English singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, released on 23 October 2006 as the first single from her second studio album, Back to Black (2006). Written by Winehouse and produced by Mark Ronson, the lyrics are autobiographical, and talk about Winehouse's refusal one time to enter a rehabilitation clinic. It peaked at number 7 in the UK on its Singles Chart and number 9 in the US on the Billboard Hot 100, her first top ten hit in the US.
It has become a critical and commercial success internationally, and has been referred to as Amy Winehouse's "signature song". It won three Grammy Awards in 2008, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and was nominated for two more. It also won an Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song. Winehouse's public battle with drug and alcohol addiction, and subsequent death, has resulted in some of the song's continuing popularity and appearance in the media. The song has been covered by a list of artists, from Seether to Jamaican Mento band The Jolly Boys, and from Hot Chip to Lea Salonga.
"Rehab" was produced by Mark Ronson and released as the album's lead single in October 2006 in the UK and January 2007 elsewhere. The song was written about Winehouse's refusal to attend an alcohol rehabilitation centre after her management team encouraged her to go. "I asked my dad if he thought I needed to go. He said no, but I should give it a try. So I did, for just 15 minutes. I went in said 'hello' and explained that I drink because I am in love and have screwed up the relationship. Then I walked out." Winehouse later changed her management company. Ronson expanded on the songwriting process when interviewed by DJ Zane Lowe for the BBC Radio's Radio 1's Stories in an episode broadcast on BBC Radio 1 on Monday 18 July 2011:
|“|| I was walking down the street with Amy. We were in New York and we'd been working together for about a week and we were walking to some store. She wanted to buy a present for her boyfriend and she was telling me about a specific time in her life that was.... I feel bad, like, talking about a friend like this, but I think I've told this story enough times.... but she hit, like, a certain low and her dad came over to try and talk some sense into her. And she was like, 'He tried to make me go to rehab and I was like, 'Pfft, no no no."' And the first thing I was like, 'ding ding ding ding ding.' Like, I mean I'm supposed to be like, 'How was that for you?' and all I'm like is, 'We've got to go back to the studio.'
Mitch Winehouse, Amy's father, confers on Ronson's story in his 2012 biography of her, Amy, My Daughter, adding that she had written that line in one of her notebooks years before, and told him that she was planning to write a song about that day but that that was the moment when the song 'came to life.'
In the lyrics Winehouse mentions "Ray" and "Mr. Hathaway", in reference to Ray Charles and Donny Hathaway.
On 12 March 2007, Winehouse performed the song live for her US television debut on the Late Show with David Letterman. And for a while, she replaced "Ray" with "Blake", referring to her ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, in live performances.
The music video was directed by Phil Griffin and released in September 2006. It features Winehouse's band playing their instruments while she sings to the camera. The band members are dressed in gowns throughout the video, with one member dressed similarly to Donny Hathaway. It begins with Winehouse rising from bed and then moving to the bathroom. For the second verse, Winehouse is on a chair in a psychiatrist's office, presumably explaining herself to an unseen psychiatrist. In contrast to the lyrics, the video ends with Winehouse in rehab, sitting on a bed in a white-tiled clinical ward room with her band around her. The video was shot by director of photography Adam Frisch. On 31 May 2007, "Rehab" debuted on MTV's Total Request Live and later peaked at number one on 7 June. The music video was also nominated for Video of the Year at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, but lost out to Rihanna's "Umbrella."
"Rehab" has been hailed by music critics. Rolling Stone called it a "Motown-style winner with a banging beat and a lovesick bad girl testifying like Etta James." People magazine called the track "instantly memorable." Billboard remarked that Winehouse's vocals on the song were "Shirley Bassey-meets-Ella Fitzgerald" and called the track "a better buzz than a double-gin martini." This song was ranked number 7 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Songs of 2007 and number 194 on the same magazine's updated list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. This song was also ranked number 92 on MTV Asia's list of Top 100 Hits of 2007. TIME magazine named "Rehab" at number one on their 10 Best Songs of 2007. Writer Josh Tyrangiel praised Winehouse for her confidence, opining, "What she is is mouthy, funny, sultry, and quite possibly crazy" and, "It's impossible not to be seduced by her originality. Combine it with production by Mark Ronson that references four decades worth of soul music without once ripping it off, and you've got the best song of 2007." Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "Soon she'd be making headlines for all the wrong reasons. But back in 2007, we were all saying yes, yes, yes to the British belter's one-of-a-kind voice." In 2011, NME placed it at number 8 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".
The song won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song for songwriting on 24 May 2007. In July 2007, the track was shortlisted for the Popjustice £20 Music Prize, which recognises the best British pop singles over the past year. "Rehab" won, making Winehouse only the third act to win the award, after Girls Aloud and Rachel Stevens. The single also won Song of the Year at The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop. On 10 February 2008, "Rehab" won three Grammy Awards: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
On 22 October 2006, based solely on download sales, "Rehab" entered the UK Singles Chart at number nineteen and when the physical single was released the following week, it climbed to number seven, Winehouse's highest chart position at the time by more than 50 places. By 25 October the album was approaching five-time platinum in the UK, making it the best-selling record of 2007.
The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 91 on the 31 March 2007 chart without an official single release. Winehouse's current single at the time, "You Know I'm No Good", entered one spot above, at number 90, the same week. After lingering in the bottom portions of the Hot 100 for several months, the song suddenly jumped 38 spots to number ten on the 23 June chart, due to digital sales following Winehouse's live performance of the song on the MTV Movie Awards on 3 June 2007; sales of the official remix featuring rapper Jay-Z also had a small effect, helping it to peak in the 70s on the iTunes Top 100 in the US. After a change of rules in the UK allowing all digital downloads to be counted for the singles chart, "Rehab" re-entered the chart at number 20 for the week ending 13 January 2007, whilst "You Know I'm No Good" occupied the number 40 spot as a new entry on downloads alone.
The Ronson-produced song also topped at the top ten in more than 10 countries including Canada, Spain, Denmark, and Israel, peaking in Norway and Hungary. It reached the top 20 in France, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and Finland, attaining a peak position of number 23 on the European Hot 100 Singles.
As of March 2008, the single had sold 357,943 copies commercially and on downloads in the UK. Between October 2006 and June 2007, the single spent 34 consecutive weeks in the official UK top 75 and has re-entered it again several times since, most recently at number 29 on 31 July 2011 in the wake of the singer's death, giving it a current total of 59 weeks in the top 75, making it the joint 10th longest runner of all time, and 76 in the top 100.
It also became her first top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number nine. The Recording Industry Association of America certified "Rehab" platinum on 11 February 2010 for sales of over 1 million copies. The song, despite an October 2006 release date, was an enduring hit throughout 2007; with UK sales of 131,415 in 2007 alone, it finished the year as the UK's fifth-sixth biggest-selling single. It is Winehouse's longest-running UK chart hit, but her Ronson collaboration "Valerie" has proven to be her biggest seller to date. As of 2012 the song has sold more than 1.5 million copies in UK and more than 1 million in the US.