The Amy Winehouse Rehab Story: Album and Struggle

When Amy Winehouse burst unto the British scene in the early 2000s with the cool and fresh take on soul that her debut album “Frank” held, she stood in stark contrast to the endless stream of talent show stars that were being churned each year. Moreover, she seemed to bring back not only a sort of music and style that was neglected by the mainstream for a few decades, but the kind of old-school cool that was missing from the music scene. Further down the line, when her off-stage antics of substance abuse overtook her career as the focus of media attention, the Amy Winehouse Rehab phenomenon and comparisons with the rock-stars of the 60s and 70s became even more appropriate, but increasingly tragic so, a story that culminated in her demise, age 27, in the summer of 2011. Here are 5 Amy Winehouse songs that complemented her life and struggles, and which you can watch on YouTube.

1. Rehab

In 2005 and early 2006 Winehouse went through a period of drinking, heavy drug use and weight loss, the first public signs of a future rollercoaster of such spells, issues augmented by the death of her grandmother in 2006, described as a “stabilizing influence”.  That period coincided with the writing of her sophomore album, “Back to Black”, which further increased her fame and visibility, becoming one of the best sold albums of the decade, for which mp3 versions millions of people rushed to download. It also included the mega-hit “Rehab”, an anthem of rejecting institutional support for her issues, which went on to become closely associated with her career and lifestyle. It’s a song that manages to live on in any version, be it the original or almost any remix.

2. I Hear Love Is Blind

Her love life was not spared the drama that the rest of her life was mired in, either. Throughout her 2 years-long marriage with Blake Fielder-Civil, the two were famous for having loud and violent arguments, with Winehouse admitting on several occasions of being violent against him after she had been drinking: “if he says one thing I don’t like then I’ll chin him”. Just a few months after their wedding, they were photographed in the street, bloodied and bruised, after an alleged fight. Later on, Winehouse spoke of the marriage as being “based on doing drugs”, while Fielder-Civil’s parents called for her fans to boycott her music, fearful that the two newlyweds would commit suicide together.

3. In My Bed

While on a break with her on-off boyfriend and future husband in 2006, Winehouse also dated singer-songwriter Alex Clare. The affair would have been easily forgotten if Clare wouldn’t have went ahead and sold the story to notorious, now-defunct, tabloid rag News of the World, which took a break from their usual Amy Winehouse Rehab Scandal coverage to  publish the piece under the now famous headline “Bondage Crazed Amy Just Can’t Beehive in Bed”. In addition of making for a great listen, watch the stunning video created for this song.

4. Back to Black

The end of her marriage was every bit as dramatic as the beginning. In January 2009, she was spotted in holiday in Santa Lucia with actor Josh Bowman, where she said that she was in love again and didn’t need any drugs, referencing the roles of drugs in her relation with Fielder-Civil and that “for the time being I’ve just forgotten I’m even married.” Shortly after, her husband filed for divorce and despite saying that she doesn’t want to divorce her husband and that “I still love Blake and I want him to move into my new house with me—that was my plan all along”, the divorce remained uncontested and was granted just a few months after. Undoubtedly, both the chords and lyrics meaning of this song remain, even after her demise, incredibly touching for her fans throughout the world.

5. You Know I’m No Good

A US reporter once described Winehouse as a “victim of mental illness in a society that doesn’t understand or respond to mental illness with great effectiveness”. She also described herself as being manic-depressive and her well known bouts of self-harm and generally self-destructive behaviour lead to her to seek assistance in having her involuntarily committed, just weeks after the “Amy Winehouse rehab miracle”, which was a two-week long voluntary admission to a treatment centre in early 2008. That year she quit illegal drugs, but ended up relying on alcohol to treat the withdrawal, a pattern that lead to her death by alcohol intoxication in 2011.

The Best Reggae Songs of All Time

Yes, yes, we know, we know live in the world of electro and clubbing tunes, spiked with an occasional catchy pop chorus and such, and the age of old-school hip hop or reggae and dancehall hits has all but died. Don’t get us wrong: we don’t dislike more contemporary musical hits either, but we don’t agree that reggae should be forgotten by far. That’s why, in today’s post, we will prove that reggae isn’t necessarily dead and especially today, when the world craves ethnic products of all kinds, this genre deserves attention more than ever. Without further ado, here are the 5 best reggae songs of all time, in our opinion, after a brief overlook about the current itself.

Bob Marley in the traditional reggae and rasta colors.

Bob Marley in the traditional reggae and rasta colors.

The Roots of Reggae

The reggae musical genre originated in the urban Jamaica of the late 1960s and even if the term is broadly used today to describe all Jamaican dance music, reggae only refers to a particular type of music influenced by rock, dance and jazz current from the USA, and by the traditional mento and calypso music of the folk culture of Jamaica. Known for its special vibes and optimistic feel (although the lyrics are often sad or they articulate pertinent social criticism, if you pay closer attention to them), reggae is characterized by the dominant use of bass guitar, with an emphasis on the lower frequencies.

Some of the best reggae songs were produced after Spanish language reggae spread to the other Caribbean countries and incorporated local folk elements into the current itself. After the world-wide success of famous artists such as Bob Marley (pictured above) that actually changed how we see the world, there have been many new European artists trying to emulate the style as well. The peak of popularity was the late 80s and early 90s, when some of the best reggae songs of all time were produced. The genre came to be associated with the wearing of dreadlocks, the wearing of the red, yellow and green color combination, and for its more or less direct encouragement to smoke weed. We’re not preaching any political stance ourselves, but musically, reggae songs still have a lot to give, and the slight revival of these songs in 2012 and 2013 can only make us hopeful to see this genre brought back to its former shine.

Top 5 Best Reggae Songs

1. “Kingston Town” by UB40 – This song should be the first on any list of the best reggae songs, not only because it incorporates the sound perfectly into just one track, but also because it sings about Kingston, the capital of Jamaica and the place of birth for the entire reggae culture. It was recorded by UB40 in 1989 as a cover after the original song by Lord Creator.

2. “I wanna wake up with you” by Boris Gardner – This song is one of the lighter weight reggae songs, that talks simply of love instead of burning social issues, and it’s usually featured on any list of the best 100 love songs of all time. Not only it’s romantic and with a feel-good vibe, but we’d say that it’s also the best tune for your morning alarm.

3. “It’s a pity” by Tanya Stephens – One of the best songs by a female reggae singer, “It’s a pity” talks about an adulterous relationship in a lovely and heartbreaking way, while still being a great song to dance to. The song has been covered in a multitude of languages, including Greek, and if you haven’t listened to it so far then drop everything and enjoy it a.s.a.p.

4. “Sunshine Reggae” by Laid Back – This song reflects the shiny and optimistic feel we were talking about earlier, even when said positive vibes are actually accompanying less than cheerful lyrics.

5. “No woman no cry” by Bob Marley – Of course, the list of the best reggae songs of all time couldn’t be complete without a song belonging to the father of reggae himself, Bob Marley.

We could add many, many more reggae songs to this list, from UB40’s “Red, red wine” to Marley’s “I shot the sheriff”, but we think it would be better to keep it short and let you discover or rediscover the gems of reggae music yourself, after we just stirred up your appetite. Enjoy!

The Unexpectedly Brilliant Songs by Terrible to Average Bands

Isn’t it amazing how a really bad band can pull a fabulous song out of their hat once in their career, as though they had temporarily loaned their soul to the devil instead of outright selling it? These are most unexpectedly brilliant songs by bands that are usually decidedly average or downright horrible to listen to.

Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi

Brilliant Songs 

Ok, so you hate Bon Jovi and all of the poodle haired lame-assedness they stand for. I don’t blame you. In fact, I fully endorse you. However, I dare you to listen to this thumping rockfest and not scream “ooow a ooow a ooow a” at the start before jumping up and down and throwing your lavish mane around the place.  You just can’t, can you?

Hotel California – The Eagles

Brilliant Songs

How can a band that has taken out the copyright on dull, pointless music make something as stunningly unique and wonderful as this? Even the bizarre bit about stabbing the beast and the whole wine/spirit confusion are strangely uplifting moments.

Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

Brilliant Songs

If you are currently going wild at your computer and calling me a fool and a buffoon among other gentle old-fashioned barbs, let me ask you to lie down and re-consider your position for a moment. You do not love The White Stripes. You simply love one of their songs. So do I and most rational people. This song is built on one of the best riffs ever. If you can listen to the song once with having it running through your head for weeks afterwards then you are arguably not even human. This is the first White Stripes songs I ever heard, so I headed straight to my local online vaguely legal download emporium in a state of some agitation to download their entire freaking back catalogue. What did I then hear? Not one single funky riff like this. Instead, I heard a lot of tuneless wailing and a small child running his nails down a broken and out of tune guitar.

I Still Haven’t Found What I Was Looking For – U2

Brilliant Songs

To be fair, U2 aren’t the worst band in the world ever. That would be a tossup between Limp Bizkit and, well, no one else really. However, they are a bit dull and pompous, aren’t they? Having said that, this is one of the few songs I could listen to every single day of my life and never get bored of. Nothing else they have ever made comes even close to the sweeping majesty and world-wise lyrics of this masterpiece.

Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson

Brilliant Songs

This song absolutely rocks, yet the singer doesn’t. Go figure.

The Final Countdown – Europe

Brilliant Songs

My sister had the Europe album on cassette when I was a kid. There was this one fantastic song on it and then a lot of Euro rock trash nonsense stuff. Still, altogether now, “We’re leaving together…”

Run to You – Bryan Adams

Brilliant Songs

What the Hell happened to sappy, soppy Adams when he recorded this genius rock anthem? Summer of 69 was actually pretty good as well but Run to You is just a slobbering chunk of Canadian rock god awesomeness, and those aren’t words you see together very often.

The Boys of Summer – Don Henley

Brilliant Songs

This song and Rosanna by Toto are burned into my brain for eternity. The jukebox in my local sleazy pub only seemed to have these two songs on it. One of the regular customers – it may have been Henley himself for all I know – used to put on the Boys of Summer on a semi-permanent basis. Just as well it is a top notch song and not at all like just about anything else this guy and his Eagles buddies have ever done.

The Truth about the Madonna Plastic Surgery Rumors

An immensely popular entertainer and popular culture fixture for more than four decades, Madonna is one of those artists, like David Bowie or Prince that constantly reinvented themselves throughout their careers, rarely leaving the spotlight for a considerable period of time. And that is largely due to the important part that her body played in her career — from her nude modeling early days to her constantly provocative music videos of the 80s and 90s. Seeing the disproportionate attention the media gives to the physical appearance of female celebrities, the way her body looks was always a subject of hot discussion.

In the second part of her career, however, her body and face became the target of intense scrutiny with the intention to divine information about any supposed plastic surgery that she might have undergone. Madonna plastic surgery rumors have now become as much a staple of her popular culture presence as Material Girl or her marriage to Guy Ritchie, but what is the truth behind these allegations?

1.     The round-faced eighties

Madonna Plastic Surgery

In all fairness, the questions about possible plastic surgery done to her face did not arise only from the vulture celebrity media’s obsession with women’s bodies, but from a clearly visible difference between photos from the early-eighties incarnation of Madonna and all the subsequent ones. A rounder face, with low cheek-bones and a pronounced diastema, as well as a more girl-next-door physique are all present in pictures of a young Madonna Louise Ciccone, in contrast with the gym-fit, sharp look of her mid-career and while the dental work is obvious, specifics for this transformation abound, from good-natured explanations of the changing physiognomy through the natural changes that a person’s face goes through in their youth or the changing style of make-up and lifestyle, to the more venomous ones that hold these before and after pictures as hard proof of her use of plastic surgery or even blaming it on alleged drug abuse.

2.     Constant transformation

Madonna Plastic Surgery

It is even more difficult to assess the differences Madonna’s physical appearance throughout the years, not because lack of photographic documentation, but because Madonna’s look has changes so much through the years, with make-up, costume and body shape being employed in her endless string of reinventions and transformations, one of the tools that helped her stay relevant for more than 40 years in the tumultuous world of pop music. That being said, it is not completely out of the realm of possibility that she has undergone surgical interventions to change her looks but, for most of her life, that would have been not only unnecessary, but unnoticeable, as her constant shape shifting in regards to looks and persona were much more immediately noticeable than any work she might have done to her face or body.

3.     And then, of course, there’s the arms

Madonna Plastic Surgery

Maybe one of the best arguments against theories of Madonna plastic surgery is the look of her arms which, for a few years, held celebrity rags’ headline, being famously described by the notoriously bad venom-spitter Piers Morgan as “grotesque”. The same people that were hungry to shame her for any plastic surgery were also quick to condemn a woman in her 50s that she tries to keep fit by exercising in the gym, rather than slicing and dicing ribbons of her own flesh.

4.     Maintenance Work

Madonna Plastic Surgery

Unlike stories of other stars whose plastic surgery is either obvious or worn on their sleeves, the thousands of tabloid pages that had been filled by the Madonna plastic surgery topic continue to hold some sort of mystery, even now when multiple pics make it obvious that her looks are being described even by the kindest people as “uncanny” for a 56 years old. The main reason for this is her apparent refusal of ever going overboard with her surgery, resorting only to small-scale surgery that is meant more to keep her from looking like an old woman, than to make her look young.

What News of a Metallica New Album?

In news that is sure to delight fans, it appears that the Metallica new album is on its way soon enough, though exact details of a release date or title of the new LP are scarce.

Keeping Busy

metallica new album

It’s been six years since thrash-metal veterans Metallica released a new album, but they have not been sitting idle since their 2008 “Death Magnetic” release. Firstly, in 2011, they released an ambitious collaboration with the late Lou Reed that was, however more Reed than Metallica. The artistic effort has been reviled by critics and managed to alienate a huge portion of the fans, and not just the segment that refuses to acknowledge the existence of any of their albums after The Black Album. Metacritic lists Lulu, the band’s collaboration with Lour Reed as having a 45 out of 100 critics score and a crushing 2.1 out of 10 user score.

Subsequently, in 2013, they spent a while working and releasing “Metallica Through The Never”, an IMAX thriller concert film that ended up receiving far more positive reviews, holding scores of 7.3 on imdb and 78% in Rotten Tomatoes. Following these forays into different genres, as well as mediums, fans’ expectations of a new full-fledged, all-Metallica album grew to new heights and, in 2014, the first information started coming out.

New Material

Firstly, in March news spread around the Internet that at one of their shows in Bogota, Colombia they have played a brand new song. Bootleg versions flooded the web and just two days later the band has released a “garage demo version” of the song on YouTube. The track, called “Lords of Summer” is 8 and a half minutes long and is, unsurprisingly,  keeping in line with the pace and style of Death Magnetic than anything else, but with of throwbacks to earlier stuff, including a distinct “Kill ‘Em All” drum part.

Plans for the Fall

Later down, in May, Metallica’s guitarist Kirk Hammett mentioned that he’s currently reworking the solo on “Lords of Summer”, which he saw as incomplete and, more importantly, that they plan on spending the summer with their families, but come September, they’re going to go through the riffs they already have saved in their “riff bank” and start building actual songs for the Metallica new album.

Soon after, in early June, Metallica drummer and leader Lars Ulrich was making it sound easy, saying that with the material they already have, the album is actually about “90% done”.  He went on to explain in some detail their process of creation: “When we write songs, we don’t really write a song at a time, we write kind of more like… We take passes at a bunch of different things at the same time. So we’ll, sort of, develop maybe ten ideas, and then we’ll go back and develop those ten ideas again, and then we’ll, sort of, keep embellishing them, I guess is the word. We rarely write a song, and now we’re gonna write a second song. We sort of have 10 balls in the air, or 20 balls in the air, and then we sort of keep moving them around, moving sections around and embellishing, like, ‘Take this intro and put it over here.’ So it’s more that type of thing, is what our songwriting sessions often are.”

Already in the studio?

metallica new album

Their plans for entering the studio in the fall were also divulged by bass player Robert Trujillo who, in an interview given in the later summer mentioned that mid-September is the time that they band is planning on buckling down to work on the new material. By all indications, they are already doing so and they could be in the studio, instruments in hands, right now, while you are reading this. The work on the Metallica new album will, however, be paused for at least one week in later November when, the band has announced, they are going to make camp in “The Late Late Show” with Craig Ferguson for one whole week, playing on the show every night from the 17th to the 21st, giving late night TV the metal dose that it obviously wants.