Singer's death at age 27 and the comeback that never was is our #10 Newsmaker of the year.
By Gil Kaufman
If I had gone to journalism school, I'm sure one of the first things they would have taught me would have been to remain objective in my reporting and not get too emotionally involved in the subjects I cover.
I didn't personally know Winehouse, had never interviewed her and had only seen her perform a few times. But something about her titanic talent spoke to me, almost as much as the fascination I (and all of us, I suspect) had about her madcap, edge-of-a-knife life. We love reading (and writing) about the chaos of stars' lives because it allows us to live vicariously through the insanity they reap from the safety and security of our by-comparison tame lives.
We shook our heads when she had that disastrous show in Belgrade in June, fearing that it meant we would have to wait even longer for her forever-gestating follow-up to her 2006 breakthrough second album, Back to Black.
The news Winehouse had made since her 2008 Back to Black Grammy triumph was mostly bad — arrests, drug possession, punch-ups, divorce, rehab, canceled shows — but her pugnacious attitude and promise kept us interested. I was pulling for her because I know all too well from experience how this one usually ends. There was a part of me that couldn't wait for Winehouse to defy the critics and stage a triumphant comeback that would surprise and delight us all over again.
Once she passed, though, we paid tribute the only way we know how, with essays about her importance to music, shout-outs from contemporary acolytes like Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj (and the cast of "Glee"), a look back at her career highlights on MTV and as much information as we could give you about the details of her death. (That enduring interest in Winehouse's legacy became the #10 Top Newsmaker of 2011.)
We wondered if there would be more music from the singer who'd only managed two studio albums before her death, measured her influence beyond "Rehab" and dug up every bit of tape we had to shed more light on her creative process.
Because I wondered it myself, we also asked experts if sudden fame had crushed the fragile, troubled singer. And we told you everything we could about the VMA tribute to her featuring Bruno Mars and Russell Brand.
Once her cause of death was revealed, the first question that needed to be answered was, "how is that even possible?" And when details were revealed about her first posthumous album, Lioness: Hidden Treasures, we spoke to everyone we could about the tracks, fearing it might be the last we'd hear from this suddenly silenced voice.
We were as sad as you were, but we kept it together to bring you the news. Well, almost.
In a Newsroom post, I reminisced about the first time I saw Winehouse perform, at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, in March 2007. I dug through the tens of thousands of pictures in my iPhoto folder to find the series of shots I'd snapped of her from just a few feet away at her Stateside debut. I remembered how blown away I was by the enormous, tear-stained sound coming from this tiny woman.
I wrote about how I sometimes reveled in reporting on her bad behavior. But mostly, I admitted that like a lot of you, I'm just sad we won't have Amy around anymore.
How did Amy Winehouse's death affect you? Share your thoughts below.
MTV continues our Best of 2011 coverage by looking back at the biggest pop-culture stories of the year. As we count down the newsmakers that mattered to you most, also check out our Best Artists, Best Songs, Best MTV Live Performances and Best EDM Artists of 2011.