It seems you can’t open any music mag or read any music blog today without coming across sheer praise for both the immense talent and off-stage debauchery of Amy Winehouse. She’s just that good!! Her stunning streak continues to chuck out the best of 2007 with this offshoot collaboration with producer Mark Ronson, an amazing cover of The Zutons Top Ten UK singalong “Valerie”.
The happy-go-lucky spirit of The Zutons’ “Valerie” playfully merged 60’s pop sunniness with the faceless charm of ’90’s indie rock, making for a decent radio favorite that might not have lingered in memory much after it’s fadeout. Ronson and Winehouse’s rendition completely dominates as the better version, her weary vocals delving deeper into the song’s old lover longing (Amy doesn’t deviate from the script, leading to a cool homoerotic twist) and Ronson’s tattooing of the song with a listless early Motown thump.
The hurried bass groove borrowed from The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love” sprayed with ethereal strings and chimes and a festive horn additive gives “Valerie 2.0” a multi-layered sense of royalty, as if a small town is welcoming the passing through of the Queen and giving her a show to outrank all shows. Always sounding like she’s wet her throat with at least two Long Islands before approaching the mic, Winehouse feels much more looser here than she does on Back In Black and it’s a welcome change of pace. No she doesn’t go off on some needless vocal riff tangent, but her spirited performance feels like she’s getting a kick out of the song’s finger-snapping rhythm and gender-bending element.
Completely making The Zutons’ “Valerie” irrelevant, Winehouse and Ronson’s Berry Gordy-approved remake justifies the hoopla surrounding this year’s brightest music sensation.