Official Charts Pop Gem #72: Amy Winehouse – Back To Black

We celebrate Amy Winehouse’s heartbreaking signature hit as the ultimate goodbye song.

As anyone will tell you, there’s rarely anything good about goodbyes. They’re the end of an era, someone’s moving on – and usually, they’re leaving you behind.

Every week we ask for your Pop Gems, overlooked classics or big hits from back in the day that need a bit of bigging up. This week, our Pop Gem theme was farewells – fond or otherwise. We were looking for songs that said goodbye – or final singles from your favourite pop acts.

We narrowed it down to this list of contenders…

ARTIST TRACK PEAK POSITION YEAR
SATURDAYS FOREVER IS OVER 2 2009
AMY WINEHOUSE BACK TO BLACK 8 2007
JOJO LEAVE (GET OUT) 2 2004
FIVE CLOSER TO ME 4 2001
ATOMIC KITTEN SEE YA 6 2000
WESTLIFE SEASONS IN THE SUN 1 1999
HONEYZ END OF THE LINE 5 1998
SPICE GIRLS GOODBYE 1 1998
SARAH BRIGHTMAN & ANDREA BOCELLI TIME TO SAY GOODBYE 2 1997
TAKE THAT NEVER FORGET 1 1995
MARIAH CAREY & BOYZ II MEN ONE SWEET DAY 6 1995
M PEOPLE MOVING ON UP 2 1993
BANANARAMA MOVIN' ON 24 1992
QUEEN THE SHOW MUST GO ON 16 1991

A real mix of blubfests, era-closng anthems and, well, songs with the word ‘goodbye’ in. And who did we pick? Well, it was the heartwrenching farewell Back To Black, by the late great Amy Winehouse.

Watch the super-sad video for Back To Black before explain why Amy had to be our latest Pop Gem.

Why it had to be Amy

Before her untimely death in 2011, Amy Winehouse was a legend in the making. Outspoken and raucous, but also polite and, on occasion, shy, Amy was a force of nature – truly unforgettable.

While she became as famous for her tabloid antics and battle with drugs and alcohol as she was for her music, Amy produced some killer tunes. Amy’s songs were a real eye-openers into the inner workings of her mind and life experiences – vintage music with a modern twist and all from Amy’s heart. She bared her soul at the microphone.

Her career was short, but while she was around, she released some of the hottest music of her generation. Her look quickly became iconic, with artists inspired by both her image and sound popping up everywhere. She was nominated for multiple BRIT Awards, winning Best Female Artist in 2007. Back To Black cleaned up at the Grammys.

The song

Of all Amy’s songs, most of which lent themselves to the old adage “the truth hurts”, perhaps the most anguished was Back To Black. Heartbreakingly autobiographical, Back To Black dealt with the big goodbye we all dread – the end of a relationship.

Her voice raw with emotion over the ‘60s girlgroup-style beat, Back To Black is a powerful tale of longing and loss. The video goes even further on the theme of goodbye, as an impassive Amy attends the funeral of her broken heart.

When first released in 2007 as the third single from Amy’s second album of the same name, Back To Black reached Number 25. Thanks to incredibly high sales of the album, only one of its singles – Rehab – managed to make the Top 10.

It was only on Amy’s death in summer 2011 that Back To Black got the recognition it deserved, soaring 73 places to land a new chart peak of Number 8.

Back To Black has sold over 340,000 copies and is Amy’s third bestselling song in the UK.

Amy’s chart story

Amy’s first four singles, from debut album Frank, failed to reach the Top 40. In My Bed/You Sent Me Flying was the most successful, charting at Number 60. It was only with Rehab that Amy started to enjoy the success that would make her a household name. Her first Top 10, Rehab reached Number 7 in 2006 and is her second biggest selling song, with 395,000 copies sold.

Amy would land only one more Top 10 in her lifetime – her collaboration with Mark Ronson, a cover of the ZutonsValerie, gave Amy her highest chart peak at Number 2. That version of Valerie is also Amy’s bestselling single, with over 650,000 copies sold.

Upon her death, five of Amy’s songs broke into the Top 40, with two of them achieving a better position than on original release – Back To Black (8) and Love Is A Losing Game (33), which actually missed the Top 40 on first release.

Altogether, Amy’s tally of hits includes nine Top 40 hits and 3 Top 10s. Over on the Official Albums Chart, Amy scored three chart-toppers, with Back To Black being her most successful – it’s sold over 3.5 million copies in the UK, making it one of the bestselling albums of all time. Debut album Frank has sold just over a million.

The chart story may be over for Amy, but in Back To Black, her personality lives on. Welcome to the Pop Gem Hall Of Fame – a very worthy addition!

Video playlist

Check out all the contenders from this week’s ultimate goodbye songs.

Every Pop Gem ever

Fancy reliving those perfect Pop Gems we already picked all over again? No worries, get your ears wrapped round these playlists on Spotify and Deezer.

Spotify

Deezer

Pop Gem Hall Of Fame

Today's Pop Gem is the latest in a long line of amazing pop songs that have been inducted into our Pop Gem Hall Of Fame. Take a look at all the tracks who've received the honour so far

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