Adele : The Phenomenon

The year 2005 could be termed as the year when the music video started making a comeback, thanks to genre defining music videos and songs that topped charts globally by Gwen Stefani, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Kanye West, Madonna, Missy Elliot, Destiny’s Child and 50 Cents to name a few.

It was also the year when Madonna started yet another trend by jumping on the Europop bandwagon and making dance music a mainstream phenomenon worldwide after her 10th studio album ‘Confessions On A Dance Floor‘ went on to top almost every music chart worldwide and attained cult status when ‘Hung Up‘, the first single from the album, went to # 1 in 45 countries.

Although the rest of the world was ready for dance music, the trend caught on comparatively late in the US. By the end of 2008, artists like Lady Gaga and Rihanna became instrumental in bringing dance music back to the top of the charts, along with promoting the music video in a major way, paving the way for future chart toppers Kesha, Pitbull,  Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj etc, as well as helping a few artists return to form with dance music as their mainstay like Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, Usher and Britney Spears.

Although Britney’s music would mostly be classified as dance music, she made it back to # 1 with ‘Womanizer‘, her first # 1 in 10 years, after Gaga and Rihanna had already reached the penthouse with ‘Just Dance‘, ‘Poker Face‘, ‘Disturbia‘ etc. and had sorta opened the floodgates. Even Beyoncé achieved cult status with ‘Single Ladies‘ mostly due to its video and infectious choreography, which everyone and their mamma copied and uploaded on YouTube. Dance music seems to be the ruling genre of music as of now.

So it came as quite a surprise when this slightly over-weight pretty British woman with an astonishing lung power and a simple music video for a relatively mid-tempo song came outta nowhere and slowly, but steadily reached the top of almost every music chart world-wide, while Gaga and co. had no other option but to pave way for her, and watch as she outsold each and every one of them.

With her sophomore album ‘21‘ breaking records globally, 23-year-old Adele Laurie Blue Adkins has become a household name. What makes her so popular, one might be intrigued. As she does not metamorphose into an alien in her videos, neither does she struts around in a crow skeleton dress to an award ceremony, nor does she releases a thousand remixes of her latest single, and neither does she looks like a conventional pop star these days.

Irrespective of present trends, when an album packed with magnificent melodies, words and powerhouse vocals is released, no present trend can keep it from selling, and it definitely does not need any gimmickry in the form of an overtly eclectic music video, multiple remixes or glitzy promotional campaigns.

Adele’s ‘21‘ is nothing short of stupendous. Although it’s just her 2nd album, she’s well on the path initially taken by iconic vocalists Whitney Houston, Anita Baker, Alanis Morisette, Mariah Carey or Celine Dion in the past, basically bearing the entire weight of an album simply on her vocal prowess, song writing ability and the melodies.

Enough has already been said about the first single ‘Rolling In The Deep‘, and most of you’ve already heard it and have been mesmerized by it. It’s the # 1 song of the year so far, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for 7 consecutive weeks and selling over 4 and a half million digital downloads in the US alone, and is still present in the top 10 of every music chart worldwide.

The rest of the album is chock-a-block with potential gems, out of which ‘Someone Like You‘ is already another chart topper, topping the UK Top 40 for 4 consecutive weeks, while it slowly inches its way up the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. If you’ve enjoyed ‘Rolling In The Deep‘ , you’re bound to enjoy ‘Someone Like You‘, as well as the next singles ‘Set Fire To The Rain‘,  which in my opinion explores Adele’s vocal abilities better than ‘Rolling..‘, and ‘Turning Tables‘, both of which are making their way up the charts already.

My personal favorites apart from these singles would be ‘Hiding My Heart‘, a cover of Brandi Carlisle’s original version, which is absolutely mind-blowing. It’s just Adele, and her voice. And it gives me goosebumps every time I play it. And the song ‘Don’t You Remember‘ pretty much has the same effect on me.

And while most peeps are checking out the top tiers of the charts for her, most might not notice that apart from ‘21‘, Adele’s début album ‘19‘ is still in the UK Top 5, and the US Top 40 after a whooping 95 weeks on the charts. In case you’ve missed out on ‘19‘, I would recommend you to pick it up and give it a listen immediately.

Released during the British Diva invasion of the US Charts in 2008, Adele was a part of an onslaught of British artists dominating the charts worldwide including the late Amy Winehouse, Duffy, Lily Allen etc. And it was Adele who took away 2 Grammy’s..including ‘Best New Artist‘ and ‘Best Pop Vocal Performance Female‘ at the 2009 Grammy Awards for her second single ‘Chasing Pavements‘ which is a personal favorite as well (her first single was ‘Hometown Glory‘ which was re-released as her 4th single after ‘19‘ became a massive success).

And it’s good to see people finally rediscovering ‘19‘ after listening to ‘21‘. Like ‘21‘, ‘19‘ too is packed with a few classics of its own apart from ‘Chasing Pavements‘, especially the mellifluous ‘Daydreamer‘, ‘Cold Shoulder‘, the Bob Dylan cover ‘Make You Feel My Love‘ and ‘Hometown Glory‘, which was featured in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

As far as the extent of Adele’s success  is concerned, the album sales and chart positions speak for themselves. With  8 million units of  ‘21‘  sold worldwide, it’s already the biggest selling album of 2011, after having spent a whopping 12 weeks at # 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and 16 weeks at # 1 on the UK Top 40 albums chart.

Additionally ‘19‘ has crossed sales of 3 million units and had already hit # 1 on the UK Top 40 on its release in 2008, and # 10 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart. Neither album shows any sign of moving down the charts. And with the critical reception the album has garnered, she looks likely to make a clean sweep at the 2012 Grammy Awards. At a time when her contemporaries are having a tough time crossing album sales of barely more than 2 million copies irrespective of multiple # 1 singles, endless promotional campaigns and shock-n-awe videos, it may be safely concluded that 2011 is the year of the phenomenon known as Adele.

  • Varun

    Really starting to like this girl! I missed the chance to see her LIVE and for free at this really famous club in London on July 2nd this year! Idiot that I am!!