A deluxe edition of Back to Black was also released on 5 November 2007 in the UK. The bonus disc features B-sides, rare, and live tracks, as well as "Valerie". Winehouse's debut DVD I Told You I Was Trouble: Live in London was released the same day in the UK and 13 November in the US. It includes a live set recorded at London's Shepherds Bush Empire and a 50-minute documentary charting the singer's career over the previous four years.
In contrast to her jazz-influenced former album, Winehouse's focus shifted to the girl groups of the 1950s and 1960s. Winehouse hired New York singer Sharon Jones's longtime band, the Dap-Kings to back her up in the studio and on tour.12 In May 2006 Winehouse's demonstration tracks such as "You Know I'm No Good" and "Rehab" appeared on Mark Ronson's New York radio show on East Village Radio. These were some of the first new songs played on the radio after the release of "Pumps" and both were slated to appear on her second album. The 11-track album was produced entirely by Salaam Remi and Ronson, with the production credits being split between them. Ronson said in a 2010 interview that he liked working with Winehouse because she was blunt when she did not like his work.13
On the song "Rehab", Winehouse mentions "Ray" and "Mr. Hathaway", in reference to Ray Charles and Donny Hathaway. However, for some time during live performances, she replaced "Ray" with "Blake", referring to her ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, who served time in prison for charges relating to grievous bodily harm.18
Release and promotion
A deluxe edition of the album was released in Europe on 5 November 2007. The re-issue features the original studio album remastered as well as a bonus disc including various B-sides, rare, and live tracks, including the Live Lounge rendition of the single "Valerie", which was originally only available (in studio form) on Mark Ronson's Version album. A deluxe edition of Back to Black was also released on 5 November 2007 in the UK. The bonus disc features B-sides, rare, and live tracks, as well as "Valerie". Winehouse's debut DVD I Told You I Was Trouble: Live in London was released the same day in the UK and 13 November in the US. It includes a live set recorded at London's Shepherds Bush Empire and a 50-minute documentary charting the singer's career over the previous four years.19
The first single released from the album on 23 October 2006 was the Ronson-produced "Rehab", a song about her past refusal to attend an alcohol rehabilitation centre despite prodding by her management company.20 On 22 October 2006, based solely on download sales, it entered the UK Singles Chart at number nineteen and when the physical single was released the following week, it climbed to number seven.
The second single from the album was "You Know I'm No Good". The single was released on 8 January 2007 with a remix featuring rap vocals by Ghostface Killah. It reached number eighteen on the UK Singles Chart and, in the same week's chart, "Rehab" climbed back up to number twenty. Back to Black was released in the United States in March 2007, with "You Know I'm No Good" as its lead single. A third UK single, "Back to Black", was released on 30 April 2007, and peaked at number twenty-five. "Rehab" rose to number ten on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of 14 June, after a performance of the song at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. The following week it peaked at number nine. Two further singles were released from the album. "Tears Dry on Their Own" was released on 13 August 2007, and peaked at number sixteen in the UK, while "Love Is a Losing Game", released on 10 December 2007, reached number forty-six.
Back to Black received universal acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 81, based on 26 reviews.29AllMusic writer John Bush lauded Winehouse's musical transition from her debut album: "all the best parts of her musical character emerge intact, and actually, are all the better for the transformation from jazz vocalist to soul siren."2Q magazine wrote that she "now has a voice brimming with womanly promise."25 Dorian Lynskey of The Guardian called it "a 21st-century soul classic".1 Sal Cinqueamni of Slant Magazine said that Winehouse and her producers are "expert mood-setters or crafty reconstructionists".27 Victoria Segal of The Times stated "these are explicit, honest songs ... from a thoroughly modern milieu".28The Observer's Stuart Nicholson stated "it works ... by dint of its clever melody lines and smart lyrics".23Jon Pareles of The New York Times called the album "a wonderfully time-twisted batch of songs".30The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones praised Winehouse's "mush-mouthed approach" and "range and delivery".31Nathan Rabin, writing in The A.V. Club, found interesting "the incongruity between Winehouse's trifling lyrical concerns and Back To Black's wall-of-sound richness".21
In a mixed review, Rolling Stone's Christian Hoard gave the album three stars and stated, "The tunes don't always hold up. But the best ones are impossible to dislike."26MSN Music's Robert Christgau gave it a two-star honorable mention,32 indicating a "likable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well enjoy".33 He cited "You Know I'm No Good" and "Rehab" as highlights and quipped, "Pray her marriage lasts—she's observant, and it would broaden her perspective".32Pitchfork Media's Joshua Klein criticised Winehouse's "defensive", subjective lyrics concerning relationships, but added that "Winehouse has been blessed by a brassy voice that can transform even mundane sentiments into powerful statements".24Douglas Wolk, writing for Blender, said that the album "sounds fantastic—partly because the production nails sample-ready '60s soul right down to the drum sound; and partly because Winehouse is one hell of an impressive singer, especially when she's not copping other people's phrasing".22 In a retrospective review for Rolling Stone in 2010, Wolk gave the album four-and-a-half out of five stars and referred to it as "an unlikely marvel, a desperately sad and stirring record whose hooks and production (by Remi and Mark Ronson) are worthy of the soul hall-of-famers she namedrops—'Tears Dry On Their Own' is basically 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' recast as self-recrimination".34
The song "Rehab" won the Ivor Novello Award for "Best Contemporary Song" on 24 May 2007.43Time magazine named "Rehab" the best song of 2007. Writer Josh Tyrangiel praised Winehouse for her confidence, opining, "What she is, is mouthy, funny, sultry, and quite possibly crazy", adding that "it's impossible not to be seduced by her originality. Combine it with production by Mark Ronson that references four decades worth of soul music without once ripping it off, and you've got the best song of 2007."44
Winehouse performing at the Eurockéennes festival in France in 2007
Back to Black debuted at number three on the UK Albums Chart with first-week sales of 43,021 copies.46 The album fell to number ten the following week, selling 27,763 copies.47 By the end of 2006, the album had been certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).9Back to Black topped the UK Albums Chart for the first time during the week ending 20 January 2007, its eleventh week on the chart, selling over 35,500 copies.48 The following week, the album remained at number one with nearly 48,000 copies sold.49 Five weeks later, it returned for a third week atop the UK chart, selling 47,000 copies.50 The deluxe edition of the album also spent a week atop the UK chart for the week ending 8 March 2008 with 62,773 copies sold,51 its seventeenth week on the chart after entering at number twenty-two.52 In doing so, Winehouse became the first artist to top the chart with separate regular and deluxe editions of the same album.51 The two versions of the album charted separately at the time and were both in the top ten for the week ending 29 December 2007.53 As of 14 June 2009, the album was the eighteenth highest-selling album of all time in the UK, with all versions combined.54Back to Black was the biggest-selling album of 2007 in the UK, having sold 1.85 million copies.55 Its nearest rival was Leona Lewis's debut album Spirit, which finished with 1.59 million copies.55 The BPI certified the album eleven-times platinum on 9 August 2013,9 and by October 2013, it had sold 3,513,084 copies, becoming the UK's second best-selling album of the 21st century behind Adele's 21.56
Back to Black debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200 in the United States with first-week sales of 51,000 copies,57 becoming the highest debut entry for an album by a British female solo artist at the time—a record that would be broken by Joss Stone's Introducing Joss Stone, which debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 for the week of 7 April 2007.5859 Following Winehouse's multiple wins at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards, the album jumped from number twenty-four to a new peak of number two on the Billboard 200 chart issue dated 1 March 2008 with sales of 115,000 copies, a 368% increase from the previous week.60 The album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on 10 July 2007 for shipments in excess of one million units,61 becoming the twenty-fourth best-selling album of 2007.62 It was eventually certified double platinum on 12 March 2008,61 and has since sold over 2.4 million copies in the US.63
Back to Black topped the European Top 100 Albums chart for thirteen non-consecutive weeks,64 while reaching number one in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.6566676869 The album was certified eight-times platinum by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) in late 2011, denoting sales of eight million copies across Europe.70 As of November 2010, it is the fifth most downloaded album of all time in Germany.71
Following Winehouse's death on 23 July 2011,72 sales of Back to Black drastically increased across the world. The album rose to number one on several iTunes charts worldwide.73 On 24 July 2011, with fewer than seven hours sales after the announcement of her death counting towards the respective week's chart figures,74 the original album re-entered the UK Albums Chart at number fifty-nine with 2,446 copies sold, while the deluxe edition sold 843 copies to re-enter the chart at number 163.75 The following week, it soared back to number one,76 marking the fourth time the album has reached topped the chart. Back to Black held the top spot for two additional weeks, selling 63,071 copies in the second week and 43,726 copies in the third week.7778
On 26 July 2011, Billboard reported that the album had re-entered the Billboard 200 chart dated 6 August 2011 at number nine with sales of 37,000 copies,79 although that week's chart only tracked the first 36 hours of sales after her death was announced.80 The following week, it climbed to number seven with 38,000 copies sold after a full week's worth of sales.81 In Canada, the album re-entered the Canadian Albums Chart at number thirteen on sales of 2,500 copies on 27 July 2011, an increase of 2,172% from the previous week.8283 It rose to number six the following week, selling an additional 5,000 copies.84 In continental Europe, Back to Black returned to the number-one spot in Austria,85 Croatia,86 Germany,87 the Netherlands,88 Poland89 and Switzerland,90 while reaching number one for the first time in Italy.91
^ abJones, Alan (28 October 2013). "Official Charts Analysis: Lorde single sells 82k to hit No.1". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 11 January 2014. "Back To Bedlam [...] has gone on to sell 3,278,190 copies becoming the third biggest album of the 21st century, trailing only Adele's 21 (4,665,822 sales) and Amy Winehouse's Back To Black (3,513,084 sales)."(subscription required)