Adele, Adele, Adele, there’s no escaping Adele these days. Listen to your local pop or adult contemporary stations these days and you will hear one of Adele”s songs at least once every thirty minutes. Steven Tyler of American idol has stated that he was “freaking sick” of people poorly singing Adele’s songs in their auditions. My daily dose of Adele comes courtesy of the lady next to me at work who continues to softly hum two of Adele’s songs for hours at a time.
I first became aware of the British siren in the March 2011 issue of Rolling Stone, when they described her music as something that “could have been recorded in Muscle Shoals.” Having grown up with classic rock I decided to go check her out. I listened to “Rolling in the Deep” and found this huge soulful voice to this music that reminded me a lot of The Rollings Stones meets Diana Ross and the Supremes. To say I loved would be a huge understatement, but the rampant overplay of her music has recently caused her music to cloy a bit for my taste. Our culture’s gravitation to Adele and her music is indicative of the current state of popular culture. In a world of plastic look-a-likes, Adele is different
One way that Adele differs in is her image. Adele is one of the first examples, in a long time, of a woman who is known simply for her music. Back when I was in high school, Sarah McGlaughlin, Natalie Merchant, Paula Cole, and those women of the Lilith Fair ilk, were extremely popular. While these women were beautiful in their own right they were known primarily for their beautiful music and less for their beautiful bodies. One of the huge tragedies of aritists like Brittney Spears, Christina Aguliera, and Katy Perry becoming so popular, is that it in a culture that is constantly striving for continued equality for everyone, it is harder than ever for a women to be recognized purely for her talent rather than her sex appeal. Adele with her plus- sized figure and slenderizing black turtleneck, provides hope that we will one day hear more highly talented, yet otherwise ordinary women on our radio dials.
Secondly, I think Adele’s music itself is so much different from anything else you find on top 40 radio stations these days. Again, when I was growing up in the 90s, (Wow I sound like an old man!) there seemed to be more variety on any given radio station. Your mainstream radio station would play some of the Lilith fair people, some rap, some club music, some alternative rock, and then just to shake things up they played 80’s music for awhile. Nowadays, to me, pop music equals club music with techno- disco beats and autotuners. And while that’s okay for awhile, I think people are longing for something real. Adele provides that reality. In her music you will find no autotuners, just this huge melancholy voice over a nostalgic soundtrack.
The sad thing is is that their are plenty of great artist making great music out there, but you have to get on Pandora, You Tube, or Itunes to find them. The mainstream media just does embrace these artist like they do Adele, for whatever reason. My fear is that Adele is going to be so overplayed that people, like me, are going to be so sick of hearing “Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You” that she will never enjoy the same success that she has with these first two hits. Also the only emotions we’ve gotten from her is rage and melancholy. It will be interesting to see if she can diversify her sound without ruining her quality.