When Amy Winehouse died Saturday, she left behind a oversized myth and a slim catalog. Yet those two studio albums may prove powerful enough to surmount her tabloid-splashed ups and downs with booze, drugs and romance.The singer’s death generated sales boosts for 2007 breakthrough Back to Black, 2003 U.K. debut Frank (out in the USA in 2007) and several songs. In the sales cycle ending Sunday, 50,000 Winehouse albums were sold (more than 46,000 were downloads), compared with 1,400 the week before, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Before last week, she had sold 44,000 albums this year and 58,000 in 2010.
Black was the week’s biggest-selling digital album with 36,000. She sold 111,000 digital tracks (Rehab sold the most: 34,000), up from 4,800 a week ago, a 2,000% increase.
Instant spikes aren’t unusual in the digital age, says Keith Caulfield, Billboard’s associate director of charts/retail. “There’s a faster reaction in the marketplace. You can immediately run to iTunes and grab a track or album. In the olden days, you’d have to purchase a physical disc, and often stores wouldn’t have a lot of discs for a recently deceased artist. I doubt your local Target has a lot of Back to Black albums in stock.”
Though Caulfield expects a bigger Winehouse haul next week after a full sales cycle, “it’s hard to gauge,” he says. “She didn’t have a voluminous career or the stature of Michael Jackson. That doesn’t diminish her talents. She did release two well-received albums.”
Both should enjoy healthy sales for years to come, says Jim Farber, New York Daily News music critic.
Frank unveiled raw talent and ambition, and “by Back to Black, she had so nailed it,” Farber says. “It was a perfect way to do retro, informed by the past yet so contemporary. She appealed to more than one generation. And obviously, without Amy you wouldn’t have Adele, Duffy or Rumer. She turned it around for the U.K. and created this path for neo-soul British singers.”
Though ghoulish curiosity may drive some sales, the music eventually should resonate without the sordid details, Farber says.
Her death “gives the work a morbid charisma and a sense of foreboding,” Farber says. “For almost her entire time in the public eye, she was identified with being out of control and tragic. Unfortunately, people want to hear her again because of the garishness of the story.
“But there’s so much legitimate talent and such a robust voice. The quality of the music is the best argument for it. She tapped into what is timeless about soul. I hope that’s what people remember.”
By: Edna Gunderson @www.usatoday.com