Amy performed at the Grammy’s via video link from London after being refused a visa to enter the US for the awards ceremony. At the 11th hour, Amy Winehouse secured that elusive visa, but it was too late for the show so Amy performed via video link to the Staples Centre in Los Angeles where the Grammy’s are held.
By the end of the 2008 Grammy Awards ceremony, Amy Winehouse had won five Grammys, including Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Album for “Back to Black,” and Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Performance all for “Rehab.”
This Amy Winehouse YouTube video annotation-analysis is by — Jay Caspian Kang:
0:06 She brought her own Pips! Those dance moves, however, are taken straight from the Temptations, probably from some long-forgotten performance of “My Girl.” Right away, we’re in two eras at once. And isn’t it nice that we can have a white girl singing with three black back-up singers who are performing dance moves from the 1960s and the one thought that rises up through all the silly chatter is, “Holy shit, she looks cool.” The flower in the hair, the black ruffled lace dress both set the bar high — if you’re going to come out dressed like punk Billie Holiday, you better measure up.
0:11 This is called stagger-strutting — it’s what you do when you’re a bit drunk and want to hint that some better dance moves lurk under the surface, but you’re keeping them under lock for when you need them. Standard way to set up a performance like this — lets everyone know you’re about to get loose.
0:28 I love the scowl, the half-grimace on the first syllable of “tan-que-ray.” Straight out of the Etta James/Mary J. Blige playbook — also known as the “stank exclamation point.”
0:56 First time Amy looks straight into the camera and does the half-salute off her rib cage. Any hip-hop fan recognizes that move from every 50 Cent video ever.
1:17 This is where the high-wire act begins — everything up to this point has been referential and imitative. This doesn’t mean it’s been bad — quite the contrary. But when the song builds and you need to really fuck up some notes, do you have that next level of stank to complete the transmutation and turn this charming, anachronistic parlor scene into something better? Here, Amy blows right through it. Duffy would have fallen flat on her face, by the way. The illusion would have been broken and someone would have said, “Why is this girl pretending like she’s Gladys Knight and it’s still 1972?”
1:39 That’s not a pretty face. But goddamn, when she yells, “My Blake!” who watching this right now doesn’t wish that she was yelling your name?
2:09 Mugging the camera again. That’s almost a Keith Murray face there.
3:10 Not quite a crotch-grab, more of a coquettish, flirty curtsey. The Marilyn.
4:11 This is the most important point of the performance, where she has to elevate what has been an admittedly flat past minute with theatrics, both vocal and dance-based. She starts out with the parakeet strut, goes to the hand-on-hip-and-point move (but with the Satan salute in lieu of the point), before transitioning straight into the “push you up the hill” move. That’s going from two Diana Ross moves straight into an Aretha standard, but all of it done in a staggered, half-cocked way.
5:40 This is where the postmodern, music-blogging brain implodes into a chorus of apologies. I want to apologize for pointing out (fervently) a meaningful (possibly) moment in the life of someone who has just died. I also want to point out that same moment, fervently, for earnest reasons. I want to pooh-pooh anyone who would have the gall to suggest that any televised moment is “real,” I want to write 500 words about what the word “real,” means in the “zeitgeist,” I want to tweet out the video link and the hashtag, but hide behind an ironic emoticon, I want to make a joke about the Grammys and link to the time when Homer Simpson threw his Grammy off the balcony. Despite all these interruptions, it’s touching to watch a young woman realize that her life is probably not exactly what she thought her life had been.
Amy Winehouse YouTube video annotation-analysis is from Grantland
It’s easy to watch this Amy Winehouse winning Grammy performance over and over as Amy’s performance is one of her finest. Amy’s reaction to being announced the Grammy winner is also a priceless moment.