Adele is written off my some as the worst kind of MOR; preying on the sentimental and drunk mums, as if there’s anything wrong with drunk mums and sentimentality. She’s considered unhip, mawkish, and there’s people who simply can’t fathom why she’s as enormously successful as she is.
Let’s be clear about one thing: those people are idiots.
We should absolutely cherish Adele, for a whole host of reasons. Adele is one of the most wonderful popstars around and you get the impression that, one day, perhaps when her career is over, she’ll get reappraised and everyone will point out how great she used to be. Well listen up: she’s great right now.
One of the finest things about Adele is the rawness of her emotions. In interviews she’s not exactly a guarded human, and likewise, when she’s giving everyone the finger at the Brit Awards for being cut-short in favour of a rock-critic approved band of men with guitars. Of course, there’s the open emotional wound of her actual songs. Considering she’s so candid and straight-up we shouldn’t be at all surprised that when she releases music she lets everything pour out of her, untapped. Whether it is righteous indignation, feeling completely beaten by love and heartbreak, or showing strength through emotional, rocky times, Adele doesn’t piss around when it comes to letting you know how she feels.
That’s why people love her. While many celebrities take to Twitter and Snapchat to make us feel closer to them, or organise awkward photo ops with VIP ticket holders, Adele sidesteps all that and invites us right into her very essence, turbulence and all. That’s why the rest of the pop world has to do somersaults to get noticed, while Adele can appear on TV in an X Factor break, and with a blank screen, sing “Hello… it’s me…” and send everyone into a complete meltdown.
That’s because she’s a bona fide, distinctive superstar. There’s no-one like her on the market, and she’s the absolute boss when it comes to glorious, melodramatic pop. There’s other balladeers sure, but they can be interchangeable and not connect with the songs they sing. Adele has taken the torch from Dusty, Carole and Shirley, and brought about the kind of glamour that not only feels expensive, but also reeks of half smoked cigs and day-old glasses of wine. She is someone who feels like an ordinary girl, when in fact she’s an extraordinary woman. She’s someone like you, who can take your feelings, and transport them into the ether. She can make your hurt feel poetic, like all the greats could.
When she appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, just by appearing in a dressing gown with wet hair, un-dolled up, she subverted the whole idea of a comeback and provoked a clutch of think-pieces about the male-gaze and such. She’s one of the few artists that can command everyone’s attention on her own terms, and we should all be incredibly proud of her.
She’s only 27 year old and she’s already conquered the world.
Yet somehow, despite shifting huge units of records, she still feels like ours. Everyone feels like they found Adele for themselves, rather than having Adele foisted upon them, like say, Paloma Faith or Jessie J, who merely kept the seat warm for the returning queen.
On top of that, she’s done an actually good Bond theme, which immediately puts her alongside proper legends like Tina Turner, Gladys Knight, Nancy Sinatra, Shirley Bassey and more. Yet, a number of critics write her off as a miseryguts, while simultaneously wanking over their dreary Pink Floyd and Radiohead albums (even though Adele is arguably just as prog, by sticking with the age theme for all her album titles). Besides, if you listen to Adele’s albums, you’ll find a host of records to dance to, like ‘Cold Shoulder’. If she’s meant to be the living embodiment of white wine, remember, as well as the tears, some great nights out have been had when you’re roaring drunk on cheap bottles of Pinot Grigio.
Not that Adele needs to be co-signed by hipsters, but she’s certainly got the backing of them if you actually look. Bob Dylan said his favourite version (other than his own, naturally) of ‘Make You Feel My Love’ is Adele’s. Add to that, Adele’s worked with Rick Rubin, founder of Def Jam and producer of the Beastie Boys, Jay Z, Johnny Cash, LL Cool J, Slayer, Kanye, and Lana Del Rey, referring to Adele’s singing as “so strong and heartbreaking” and that working with her, “it was clear something very special was happening.” If you can’t trust Rick Rubin, you can’t really trust anyone.
If that’s not enough, she’s signed to an independent label in XL Recordings, and labelmates with MIA, Dizzee Rascal, Tyler the Creator, FKA Twigs, Peaches, The White Stripes, and The Prodigy. The royalty of music all love her, getting praise in the press from Beyonce who said Adele had influenced her ‘4’ album, while Stevie Nicks said she’s “a fantastic songwriter… I told her ‘you’re going to be me in 40 years’”. Pharrell heaped praise on Adele, saying; “I just think she’s a masterful writer – if you listen to her album, it lives and breathes.” The Stranglers, Dave Grohl, Madonna, Slash… all manner of legends have come out in explicit praise for Adele, all cut with ‘we know we’re not supposed to like her, but we love her’.
And for people who have body issues, Adele has been a godsend. She’s said she’d rather spend her money on booze and fags, rather than diet. She once said: “I’ve never seen pictures of hot men and been like ‘I need to change what I look like if I want to be with them’. Or to sell more records. I don’t need to. I am selling records.” Without judgement on anyone else’s shape, Adele has been one of the most positive voices in pop. She’ll be herself, and still slap the bare arse of Katy Perry. Adele loves everyone, and in turn, everyone should love her back.
She’s one of the best people on the planet and, if you want, you can moan about her, or, you can join in with your favourite artists and thrill about her while she’s around. She’s the modern day Shirley Bassey. She’s the 2015 Dusty Springfield. She’s the best in the world at the Punching The Air Drunk Power Ballad right now: she’s the rawest emotional songwriter around; she’s an indie success story; she’s the perfect pop tale of a woman who doesn’t tick a lot of the usual pop boxes, but has defied just about every single one of them to be one of the most respected, big-selling artists on Earth. She’s funny, common, smart, and she’s so very, very real. She’s everyone’s hilarious, talented sister who will lend you £20, but kick your arse if you don’t pay her back when she’s off down the pub.
Adele herself said: “I don’t make music for eyes – I make music for ears.” She should’ve included everyone’s heart in that sentiment too.