Amy Burned fast and bright and burnt out quickly. It’s been ten years since her death, and already people are talking about a legacy too large to be contained by just one woman. In the world of music biopics, Amy may be on her way to becoming this generation’s La Bamba or Love & Mercy. That is insane to even consider, given that she only released two albums in her lifetime and was only 27 when she passed away. But something about her “it” factor appeals to the masses and has kept her legacy alive for this long. It can be argued that what sustained Amy in death was what destroyed her in life: Her heroin addiction. Like Whitney Houston before her, her demons became so strong that they eventually killed her. And the world couldn’t help but love her for it, no matter how horrific it was to witness.
10. “Amy Amy Amy” (from the “Frank” Album — 2003)
Opening up our list of top ten Amy Winehouse songs of all time is a track from her debut album, Frank. She may have been criticized, but no one can deny her genius when it came to song-crafting. She wrote all of the songs on this album, and she did it with so much perfection that they were almost autobiographical. This track is an ode to herself; what starts as a ballad soon turns into a rock anthem, with Winehouse’s vocals being more rebellious than they’ve ever been. Her voice is still beautiful in this track: silky and smooth and light on the ears. It’s so light that we barely notice the constant double-tracking effect used to back up her vocals.
9. “Valerie” (from the “Back to Black” Album — 2006)
“Valerie” is one of Amy Winehouse’s biggest hits, and deservedly so. The song was written by David McCabe, who revealed that it only took him 20 minutes to pen everything. The song’s title and the theme is about one of McCabe’s friends, Valerie Star. She was in trouble for drunk driving, and McCabe (as Sean Payne puts it) wrote it as a musical postcard. Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson would transform the song into a worldwide hit. Amy’s voice on the track is as hard-hitting as it gets, and her energy makes this track irresistible to listeners of any age or genre preference.
8. Back to Black (from the “Back to Black” Album — 2006)
“Back to Black” is the title track of her most successful album, Back to Black. Amy Winehouse wrote the song after coming out of a failed relationship. It would be the first song she wrote for this project, and it would also prove to be one of her most personal and rawest songs to date. It’s a song about a failed relationship and the healing power of music. That may sound cheesy, but it never comes off that way when you’re listening to this jam.
7. “Love is a Losing Game” (from the “Back to Black” Album — 2006)
This track is also off of Back to Black and was written about her regrets with love. This song is far more cynical than the other titles featured on this list, but it’s no less powerful or memorable. The sadness in Amy Winehouse’s voice is hauntingly beautiful, and the strings presented add a layer of pain, adding to the song’s overall appeal.
6. “Rehab” (from the “Back to Black” Album — 2003)
Rehab is the opening track to Amy’s second and final studio album, “Back to Black.” Produced by Mark Ronson, the song is autobiographical, as Amy had to deal with a lot of pressure to get sober after years of substance abuse. The song is somewhat a rejection of the requests to quit drinking and/or taking drugs. It’s a powerful track that holds up as one of her best.
5. “You Know I’m No Good” (from the “Back to Black” Album — 2006)
“You Know I’m No Good” is the second song off Amy’s second studio album, “Back to Black.” Grimy, guilt-ridden, and funky on all fronts, this track is one of the best examples of Amy Winehouse’s song-crafting. Her tales of self-destruction and those she’s hurt because of her own problems never come off as preachy or lashing out. Rather, they’re written with a sense of empathy and understanding as she tries to make sense of the mistakes she’s made.
4. “Tear Dry on Their Own” (from the “Back to Black” Album — 2006)
The first time I heard this song, it honestly blew me away. The chorus is one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful things I’ve ever heard; Amy Winehouse’s voice sounds like it could shatter concrete, and she adds so much emotion on every syllable that it becomes overwhelming. Like the other tracks on this list, this song is very autobiographical, and it’s about her experiences with relationships.
3. “F Me Pumps” (from the “Frank” Album — 2003)
Amy Winehouse never looked outside for inspiration to write songs. She would sing about her very own tumultuous life, and that’s what made her music relatable. However, on this album, she does an excellent job covering subject matter that was foreign to her. In F Me Pumps, Amy sings about the stereotypical gold-digging girls. The song is really catchy, and the bridge before the final chorus is what tips this one over the edge.
2. “Stronger than Me” (from the “Frank” Album — 2003)
“Stronger than Me” was Amy Winehouse’s debut single. It also serves as the opening track to her “debut” album, “Frank.” The song was a huge success, breaking in the top 100 in the UK and peaking at 71. She was only 19 when releasing this song, which explains why she looks so different in this video compared to her subsequent releases. However, her vocals are still spot on, while the song sets the tone for what would become of her.
1. “In My Bed” (from the “Frank” Album — 2003)
The brassy ballad “In My Bed” shows a different side of Amy. She’s about to hook up with an ex-boyfriend, and she’s singing this song as a warning. It’s an incredibly beautiful track, and her vocals are sublime. The piano accompaniment is the icing on the cake. “In My Bed” has a rousing chorus, and the songwriting is powerful. Her vocals are also on-point, as always. This one never gets old for me and remains a highlight of her impressive music catalog even nearly 13 years later.