- - Monday, July 25, 2011

Amy Winehouse tops charts after death

“They tried to make me go to rehab, and I said ‘No, no, no!’ “

Not since Nirvana’s “Come As You Are,” during which Kurt Cobain swore he didn’t have a gun, has a song been so prophetic of its singer’s doom.

Like Cobain, Amy Winehouse was never able to get the help she needed, locked into a public image increasingly defined by the addictions that felled her. During her concerts, fans hooted and hollered every time she took a swig from her highball glass. Had she only said “yes” to her family’s rehab suggestion, perhaps her death on Saturday afternoon could’ve been avoided.


Miss Winehouse was a boozy, jazzy lounge singer for the new millennium, her vices upgraded to suit the times. There was something hypnotic about the dichotomy between her talent, which seemed to hail from an earlier era, and her tabloidish behavior. Whenever she pulled it together, she was magnetic to watch; whenever she couldn’t, it was just as hard to turn our eyes away.

Even after her death, it’s still impossible to separate her music from her erratic antics. “Back to Black” has returned to the top of the iTunes charts in several countries, having skyrocketed to No. 1 within hours of her death. In England, it sold more than 2,000 copies on Saturday alone, a 300 percent increase over the previous week’s sales.

Miss Winehosue isn’t the only artist to receive a posthumous spike in sales. In the two months leading up to Michael Jackson’s death, his “Number Ones” compilation sold approximately 3,000 units a week. During the week of his death, that number surged to 108,000 albums, followed by an average of 199,000 weekly units during the seven weeks that followed. The total? A whopping 9,000 percent increase in weekly sales.

Sales of Nirvana’s three albums surged by 170 percent after Cobain’s death in 1994. Selena, who died the following year, sold 1,250 percent more albums during the two months after her death. More recently, Big Star experienced a 1,500 percent surge after Alex Chilton suffered a fatal heart attack.

Miss Winehouse had been working on another studio album this summer. A posthumous release is expected, of course, and chart-topping stats are more than likely. A more fitting tribute, though, would be a slow, steady stream of album sales, proof that Miss Winehouse has just as much appeal in our memory as she does on the front page of our newspapers.

 

Chief

Eric Church

CapitolNashville

★★★

Taking his cues from Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings, Eric Church is a modern-day country outlaw. He’s tattooed and tough, with a penchant for loud electric guitars and risque, R-rated lyrics that will have most parents covering the ears of their little cowboys-in-training.

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