Amy Winehouse and Adele are the two Englishwomen that have dominated the UK music industry in the past few years and their impact on the global scene has made them equally memorable and inspiring. They stamped British music forever through their vintage looks but more so through their powerful voices and distinct genres. Winehouse and Adele are both white girls who owe a debt to black soul music.
The distinction between them is emphasized more so through their best works, the albums ( Winehouse’s ” Back to Black” and Adele’s ” 19″) that forever transitioned them from London’s Brit art school performers(where they were alumni)to successful artists. Without a doubt, the albums these artists created are considered great achievements of our era and the most complex masterpieces of our time. They reflect these ladies’ heartbreak due to failed relationships through a mesmerizing but rich sound topped by a distinct musical and lyrical style.
Adele’s album is simple and clean, less menacing whereas Amy’s is a little slight more edgy and memorable. The album “19” encompasses a bright acoustic-guitar chime, with a lullaby twinkle of plush strings and Adele’s mesmerizing singing tone, honest lyrics, jazz and soul influences evokes Amy’s. Adele’s delivery is accomplished through a more delicate bluesy tone whereas Amy’s is represented by a brick house jazzy expressiveness far beyond our time. Adele is simpler lyrically and occasionally even soppy and somehow redundant lyrically, she doesn’t have the mature poetic heritage that Amy does.
Talented writers and composers these two muses beautifully show through their lyrics a deep attachment to the lost love and the disappointments that follow its course. “Back to Black” sounds emotionally and musically true. All eleven songs seem like great lost classics from the 60s : “Rehab” has many shades of Motown and contemporary twists, “Me and Mr. Jones” belongs to the swing era of the 60s and “Loving Is A Losing Game” is a stunning soul ballad with a vintage finish.
Winehouse’s songs are snappily written with a mix of bitterly caustic lyrics and finger popping tunes, then delivered in a voice that alternates sexy smouldering with dismissive contempt. In the song “You know I’m No Good”, she’s unapologetic about her unfaithfulness but she can also be witty, as on “Me & Mrs Jones” when she berates a boyfriend with “You made me miss the Slick Rick gig”. Some will find Adele rigidly old-fashioned with influences (Etta James, Billie Holiday) from another age and her album truly shows that forgotten era.
Amy’s influence of girl groups from the 50s and early 60s is plain: plinky keyboards, parpy brass, trebly guitar. A cursory listen to” 19″may lead us to conclude that Adele has not just a voice but an appearance way in excess of her years. The same can be said about Winehouse except she’s more daring not just appearance wise but vocally and lyrically as well and through her writings she evokes more depth. The music poures out of Amy a stream of weathered, seasoned phrases, seemingly without effort and “Back to Black”, is a more soulful and stripped album than Adele’s.
Strong one moment then fragile the next, ” 19″ is an album that is dominated by highlights dripping with beauty and class. On the other hand “Back to Black” is flawless and classic and represents the artist’s true masterpiece. It’s not that “Back to Black” is better as an overall album but besides being a door opener for many artists its appearance on the British scene was necessary so we can have Adele’s “19”. British singer Adele has credited Winehouse’s success in the USA and more so for making her journey smoother. Winehouse reacquainted an audience with a long forgotten genre by overcoming the vintage aspect.
After the release of “Back to Black”, record companies sought out artists with a similar sound but also fearless and experimental female musicians. Winehouse revitalized British music forever and influenced British female artists like Adele, Duffy, Emeli Sande, Misha B. , Jessie J. , Paloma Faith and Florence Welch. These musicians can all be traced back to Winehouse in terms of attitude, musical styles and fashion. Adele’s voice caresses and inspires and she sings with unabashed passion about a kind of pain we can all recognize.
Amy’s voice on the other side is full of soul and characterized by a sultry sound and she delivers amazingly strong and timeless performances that once heard can never be forgotten. Songs like ” Me and Mr. Jones” and “Tears Dry On Their Own” really show her capability to seamlessly go from soul to jazz and back to soul all the while evoking that spirit that is essential in emphasizing her sophisticated and thrilling musical style. Different as they seem – in the way they evolved musically and vocally- these two divas have much in common.
Under everything else they both achieved success at an early age through their mutual passion for music and their indisputable talent. Their originality and soulful mannerism is clearly evoked in their albums. Amy and Adele didn’t just pave the road for new British artists but have beautifully reinstated love as a main theme of our musical era through their deep songs. Two Grammy winners, with retro contemporary sounds they had forever changed people’s outlook on music and will remain the most acclaimed musical game changers of our century.
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