Amy Winehouse: Back to Black and the Gothic


  • Adrian Howard Sledmere UK and Ireland Branch


Amy Winehouse, psychogeography, Gothic, Romanticism


This article considers Amy Winehouse through the lens of the Female Gothic. With a specific focus on her song “Back to Black” (2007) and its accompanying video, an attempt is made to Gothicize the artist: to delineate an identity forged out of a variety of personalities and metaphors drawn from the Gothic. The various themes and tropes which emerge from this genre speak to a sense of continuity in terms of the structural constraints and anxieties that women face in society. To deploy the Gothic in relation to Amy Winehouse aims to give voice to gender related issues of power and autonomy. As part of the discussion I will foreground the significance of place in relation to both her narrative and music, by embracing a psychogeographic approach. This is to exploit a natural connection between Psychogeography and the Gothic by considering the possibility of darker currents and resonances via a relationship with the uncanny which they both share.

Author Biography

Adrian Howard Sledmere, UK and Ireland Branch

Adrian Sledmere is a lecturer in the media school at London College of Communication. He contributes to a range of BA courses which include Contemporary Media Cultures, Live Events and Television, and Public Relations and Advertising After spending time in insurance and advertising, Adrian embarked on a musical career in the mid-1980s, playing guitar with entertainer Roy Castle. He then went on to accompany Precious Wilson on the longest-ever rock tour of the USSR in 1988. A career in music production and writing ensued which included playing on a top ten single, signing a publishing deal with the legendary Rob Dickins (honoured by LCC in 2014) and working with a variety of artists including the late Smiley Culture, Dawn Robinson (En Vogue), Charmayne Maxwell (Brownstone) and rapper, Tim Dog. He has continued to perform regularly and to write music. After he was unceremoniously fired by 80s popstar Nik Kershaw, Adrian decided to build upon his auto-didactic tendencies by developing a parallel career in academia. Adrian’s Phd research concerned the way in which talent, and other terms which describe exceptionality, are used within the struggles and strategies of those who work in the music industry. More recently he has married a passionate interest in London with a broader set of themes which concern popular music. A principal concern here has been to ask if psychogeography, the Gothic and the significance of place are areas which might usefully enrich the critical discussion of popular music. Other areas of interest concern the alliance of brands and bands together with the way in which popular music figures in TV advertising.



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