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Little Jackie: Tough Love For Amy Winehouse

With a knowing glint of fierce intelligence filtered through an unapologetically bratty attitude, Imani Coppola stakes her claim as the American Lily Allen all over Little Jackie's The Stoop. In "Cryin' for the Queen," however, it's a different British singer who grabs Coppola's attention. She never mentions Amy Winehouse by name, but from the castigation of her target's "junkie routine" to the hip-hop sheen coating the girl-group glitter of multi-instrumentalist Adam Pallin's brightly chiming piano, it could hardly be anyone else.

Coppola remains keenly aware of the ocean separating her from the woman she's calling out, so she opens her assault by drawing on a mostly good-natured bit of U.S./U.K. rivalry. For all her professed patriotism, however, the issue isn't that New York is so much flyer than London, so much as that Winehouse's trainwreckery has squandered whatever goodwill she once claimed in the colonies. "You wanna make a buck in America?" Coppola asks. "Grab an application and get in line."

But as harshly as Coppola disses Winehouse, there's a notable undercurrent of tough love here. No mere dismissal, "Cryin' for the Queen" keeps dropping hints about moderation and the minimum-wage scenarios awaiting her if she squanders her success. It's designed to make Winehouse respond with a hearty "Oh, hell no," to make her either pull herself together in defiance or prove Coppola right. Either way, Little Jackie wins.

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This story originally ran Oct. 8, 2008.

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Marc Hirsh lives in the Boston area, where he indulges in the magic trinity of improv comedy, competitive adult four square and music journalism. He has won trophies for one of these, but refuses to say which.