So today I managed to listen to a snippet of Beyonce & Andre 3000’s version of Back To Black by Amy Winehouse. I am a big fan of La Winehouse and have been ever since I stumbled across her video for ‘Stronger Than Me’ on MTV Base late one night years ago. The minute I heard that song and saw her sass I thought, ‘I’ve got to keep a lookout for her music’. I bought her debut ‘Frank’ after hearing that song alone and was not disappointed. The huge follow-up ‘Back To Black’ was even better. There is not one bad song on that album.
I loved her lyricism. Who else could write lyrics like ‘I shouldn’t play myself again, should just be my own best friend, not fuck myself in the head with stupid men’ and have you nodding your head in agreement. (Don’t forget, ‘He left no time to regret, kept his dick wet.’) Anyway, she was brilliant so I didn’t hold out too much hope when I heard her title track was to be covered, even if it was to be done by artists as talented as Beyonce and Andre 3000.
My verdict? I am not a fan at all. In fact, it’s awful. It’s not the worst cover I’ve heard and I know covers are supposed to differ somewhat to the original, but it just sounds all shades of wrong.
Amy’s version sounded organic- it was very natural and honest, whereas this one sounds hollow. The original came from the heart while the cover is what happens when you throw a bunch of money at it and allow artists to show off.
Andre 3000’s part upset me. Even though the cover is for an updated, glossy film remake of The Great Gatsby, all that vocal enhancements in his verse just sucked the life out of the song. Beyonce’s bit was bearable compared to what preceded it, but didn’t redeem the song much. I’ve also heard there is a rap included in this version. I haven’t had the misfortune to hear that part yet but that has annoyed me. Did they really need to add that as well?
To conclude, I’m a major fan of the original so it was always going to be hard for the remake to surpass my expectations (which were pretty low before hearing it anyway). But no, I don’t like it. In my opinion, Back To Black is one of those songs which should be exempt from being covered unless it remains faithful to the original.