One thing I have learned about myself after the years is that when I elaborate much about my opinions on pop culture and entertainment, I am prone to complain… Fighting this urge, I decided to open this blog on an uplifting note, and what could be more positive right now than Adele’s towering domination of the common musical consciousness so far in 2016?
I, like many, had feared Adele’s future career would prove dead in the water after the long hiatus after the juggernaut album 21. She really began her life as an adult woman giving birth to a child and getting serious with a man AND had vocal cord surgery for her brutalized throat after years of touring… It stood to reason she’d never be on top again. Well, she stealthily slipped her third album 25 into the end of 2015 (just in time to be under everyone’s Christmas tree) and is now on the top of every best seller list as well as on every critic’s top albums of the year… At the time of this writing, it is over 8 million units sold and “Hello” is the fastest any video has ever reached 1 billion views on Youtube (mercifully dethroning the gimmick “Gangnam Style”). Oh, and don’t forget her Carpool Karaoke with James Corden is now the most viewed late night clip ever on Youtube… Even Grammy discussions this year treat performer names like Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, and Lady Gaga like footnotes to the mighty Adele.
How does she do it? What on Earth is it this young British gal does that makes her so resilient and powerful? It’s really staggering. First and foremost, you have to place her voice, plain and simple. She strides across octaves as comfortably as most stroll across their bedroom floor and delivers everything with the conviction of a woman possessed. She will be remembered among the greatest vocal performers of our time alongside names like Freddie Mercury, Whitney Houston, and Barbra Streisand, and rightfully so.
Second, it has to be her universal appeal. Adele offends no one. Well, okay, she offends people who are sick of her songs being overplayed, but those folks are offended by every big name. She’s overplayed because people wanna hear it. Adele keeps it classy, she’s charming as all get out, has a non-threatening “everywoman” accessibility, is acceptable to every age group, she is deeply relatable to young women, and is eclectic enough in styles that there is a little something for fans of almost any genre of vocal-centric music.
Third, and most importantly in this writer and DJ’s opinion, come three words. Heartbreak, heartbreak, heartbreak. Adele channels the pain of the soul more deftly and comfortably than almost anyone else, and she knows this. Reportedly, she wrote a happy and uplifting album about motherhood and romance then totally scrapped it and started over and wrote the album we now all can’t get enough of, 25. She knew no one wanted to hear a happy Adele. We come to Adele when we hurt and when we need the catharsis of a strong, independent woman putting her broken heart and her fragile humanity into a beautiful piece of music. The human story is one of heartbreak. Most folks have considerably more disappointments and failures in life and love than they do successes and victories. Adele represents that. When you don’t want to complain about your own life and annoy your friends and coworkers, you crank “Rolling in the Deep” in the car. When you’re resisting texting that jerk that broke your heart, you put “Rumour Has It” on your headphones. When you want to wallow in your own misery, you put “Someone Like You” on and sway around your living room. When the phone lights up and it’s that ex that you just can’t cut out of your life, you throw on “Hello.” Adele often embodies our darkest moments in a way that is defiant and powerful in the face of overwhelming odds. Her music is tragic but hopeful. I, for one, am thankful… and I get the feeling I’m not alone.