There is a hunger in our culture for true stories from the trenches where life is lived with clarity and rawness, where social status cannot hide true talent when nurtured with love. If we look and listen carefully, we can often find brilliance among the awed, honesty among the pretenders, and a voice in the masses that transcends circumstances and social class. Allowing a child to shine is perhaps the greatest gift a parent can bestow upon them. Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, known to the world as Adele, is one such child. She grew up with a fire in her soul and gave it a voice through song and we are, arguably, all the better for it.
“…the Ultimate Truth: nothing exists in the universe that is separate from anything else. Everything is intrinsically connected, irrevocably interdependent, interactive, interwoven into the fabric of all of life.“
– Neale Donald Walsch
There are countless stars who have sold many albums but perhaps none have enjoyed the level of universal popularity that Adele does today – the question really is, what is the secret to her unparalleled success? While there is no doubting her voice, there have been other great singers – Celine, Whitney, Aretha to name a few. Adele has powerful stage presence – but again there have been others as good if not better – Madonna, Mariah, Beyoncé and even Taylor. So what is it that really sets Adele apart and quite frankly, above everyone else?
In speaking with numerous people from all different walks of life, the answer became increasingly clear: Adele has an uncanny ability to emotionally connect with her followers. Her music and her lyrics are not only a product of who she is, they are a piece of who she is. Her third album – 25 – released in November of 2015, once again left no doubt that Adele is the much deserving Queen of the modern music landscape.
We’ve watched Adele grow from an emotional 19-year-old into a more mature, sophisticated 28-year-old Mother and yet, she remains the refreshingly cheeky, candid and unapologetic singer she began as. Her willingness to lay her life and soul in her lyrics was and still is remarkable and refreshing. As her life shifted towards motherhood and stability, the question most of us had was where would she draw inspiration and would she continue to share with her audiences the candid glimpses of her true self?
After an almost 4-year absence, these questions were answered in kind. Adele left no doubt that the inspiration she drew from was her own life and once again, she willingly laid herself bare. Not surprisingly, her album, 25 and her come back song Hello, catapulted her back to the top of the charts. In an interview with ETalk she admits “It was the hardest record I’ve ever made. Admitting it was challenging speaks to her honesty about being a new Mom and the challenges that go along with it. She adds, “The Process was hard and making it was hard as well. I never had to balance anything before, it was always only me before that mattered and once I became a mom, all of my attention is on my kid.”
“I don’t make music for eyes, I make music for ears.”
– Adele Adkins
In spite of the challenges she faced in creating 25, Adele found a way to connect with her inner feelings and share this connection. Surely this was a journey of discovery for her as who she was at 19 had receded further into her past. That care-free teenager was long gone. It was the feelings of losing herself that she wrote from, a place of sadness of leaving people and her past behind. One of the songs featured in her album 25 accentuates this point. A Million Years Ago sounds like a song of regret and with lyrics such as “I miss my friends, I miss my Mother, I miss it when life was a party to be thrown but that was a million years ago.”
Here again, Adele writes with a universal voice reminiscing of her past. This kind of vulnerability makes Adele as real as any of us.
It is hard to argue with results. When the single Hello was released it made a record-shattering start on Billboard Hot 100 blasting in at No.1 making it the 24th song ever to start at the summit. With over 1.1 million downloads sold it became the rst song ever to sell 1 million downloads in one week according to Nielson Music. No “hello” has ever been made more famous or faster than Adele’s. Hello, in a way, was a message reaching out to her fans after years of being away. This message of connection tells us how important her fans are to her. She candidly said she was frightened that she might have been forgotten. With over 15 million copies of 25 sold worldwide, we can say that she
is anything but forgotten.
Whether it’s through her lyrics, or talking to her fans in between songs at her concerts, Adele continues to connect with them and them in return. Her fans are the reason why she tours. She was quoted in an interview with Vanity Fair recently (November 2016 issue) that she doesn’t need the money and doesn’t have to tour, “I’m simply on tour to see everyone. I’m British, and we don’t have that…that thing of having to earn more money all the time. I don’t come from money; and it’s not that important a part of my life.” In the same interview she says, “all of my relationships are more important to me than any tour I’ll ever do. If my relationship with Simon (partner) or my relationship with Angelo (son) started to flounder a bit now, I would pull out of my tour. My life is more important to me than anything I’m doing because how the f*ck am I supposed to write a record if I don’t have a life? If I don’t have a real life, then it’s game over anyway.” It’s this kind of honesty, and frankness that makes Adele so relatable. In ten short years Adele has acquired a huge and very loyal fan base that welcome her songs as a way to share with her the experiences of her life – much as a friend would – and this will no doubt continue for as long as she is willing to share.
“My life is more important to me than anything I’m doing because how the F*ch am I supposed to write a record if I don’t have a life? If I don’t have a real Life. Then it’s Game over anyway.”
Both as a song writer and vocalist, Adele has been able to cover a range of subject matters. Because they are pieces taken from her real life, this too allows her fans to stay loyal and invested. It’s almost like there is no line between her music and her life, they overlap in ways that her fans find authentically positive. In fact, early on in her career, namely around the time she recorded 19 and 21, many of those songs were about breaking up and getting over love lost. Adele admitted openly that sometimes she had to get drunk to write. Dan Wilson, co-writer of Someone Like You, has said of her songs, “The idea is to make them as personal as possible.” Frank honesty seems to be her trademark; her shtick says Will Gompertz of the BBC. This, along with her candor and sometimes potty mouth expressions, allows fans to connect with her and perhaps see a bit of themselves in her and the songs she writes. Who can’t relate to a bad break up or how hard it is to let go? It’s these kinds of moments that she speaks to openly that make her real and awed like the rest of us. It’s those universal life experiences that keep people listening.
The power of music is capable to move people, stir their souls and if you close your eyes while listening to a song by Adele, chances are, it will move you, perhaps even to tears. Her gut wrenching sad, melancholic ballads have continued to set her apart from so many others of this generation. Unlike other female performers, Adele is the show.
Shortly after the release of 25, she interviewed with Etalk and said that she is not going reveal as much about this album like she did with 19 and 21. “It was hard to decide how much I wanted to give away this time because I gave away a lot last time. I realized that most of the things I gave away last time were actually in my interviews and in my chats. This album is as exposing as my last, if you want I’m just not going tell everyone exactly what the things were about but I also want people to interpret the songs in their own way.” Adele reached a compromise with 25, she left us the pieces she needed to leave perhaps, but nothing more – and yet, still so much more than we are used to receiving from other performers. This past November in her Vanity Fair interview she admitted to battling depression – once again showcasing her willingness to expose herself at the risk of judgement. This fearlessness connects her to her fans while inspiring them to take action in their own lives. This candour and honesty is refreshing in a world where people often pretend to be perfect. It is no wonder that so many of us see her like a modern day Cinderella, shining even in her darkest moments.
In amost recent interviews from 2016, we see a significant transformation in Adele. After throat surgery and giving birth, Adele lost her frumpy, happy go-lucky teenage-self and became a more sophisticated, well-disciplined young woman. Adele has proven that no matter how you look, you can turn heads by turning on your voice and honesty. The stigma of being stunning as a prerequisite for fame has been blown out of the water with Adele. She is a reminder to many young girls that look to her as a role model, that a healthy talented mind trumps outer physical beauty.
Adele says that she never imagined nor dreamed to be a singer, let alone become famous, she sang for the love of singing. Despite stardom and wealth, she has remained quite humble and ‘real’. She continues to sing with unabashed passion about a kind of pain we all recognize and that sort of thing doesn’t date her, won’t date her. She is Adele. Unparalleled.
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