Amy Winehouse has finally reached the YouTube billion views club. The Grammy-winning late soul/R&B star who tragically died at 27 of alcohol poisoning in 2011 is now part of that elite society thanks to her 2007 “Back to Black” visual crossing the nine zero mark.
The elegant black and white Phil Griffin-directed video is Winehouse’s first to reach a billion. In keeping with the dramatic nature of the singer’s rapid rise to fame and equally precipitous fall into substance use and early death, it originally featured a funeral procession and the singer paying her respects over a headstone that read: “R.I.P. the Heart of Amy Winehouse” (that bit was excised after the singer’s death.)
For the most part, the visual shot at Abney Park Cemetery in northeast London focuses on Winehouse performing the heartbreak anthem in a black dress, her signature beehive hairdo and dramatic eyeliner as her band await the beginning of a grim funeral procession. “We only said goodbye with words/ I died a hundred times,” she sings as the camera hovers inches from her intense gaze.
The third single from the singer’s second, and final, studio album of the same name was written by Winehouse and frequent collaborator Mark Ronson — who also produced it — and inspired by her troublesome relationship with on-and-off boyfriend Black Fielder-Civil. Midway through the video, Winehouse is shown walking slowly through a cemetery and throwing a single white rose into the grave site as the girl group-inspired song shifts into a downtempo strings and tambourine section, with Winehouse repeating the phrase, “black… black… black… black.”
It ends with Winehouse lamenting that her lover has returned to his ex as she sprinkles a handful of dirt on the grave. The Back to Black album — which also included the singles “Rehab,” “You Know I’m No Good” and “Tears Dry On Their Own” — won best pop vocal album, record and song of the year (“Rehab”) and scored the singer that year’s best new artist award.