Like most of America these days (and indeed, the civilized world), I love Adele. But I love her for more than her singing alone; I love her because she defies logic. By all the industry’s current measuring sticks for what makes a musical star, Adele simply shouldn’t be where she is today—but she is.
Let’s start with a few reasons why Adele should NOT be a pop superstar:
- She doesn’t fit the sexy popstar image. In less tactful terms—she’s overweight, at least by entertainment industry standards.
- She just stands there and sings. That would have worked 50 years ago, but in today’s media-blitzed culture, that ought to be a huge no-no. You’re also supposed to have huge pyrotechnics, major production numbers, blazing video, and scantily clad dancers—and if you can be equally undressed and dance seductively, all the better. Yet Adele wins us over time after time without any of that stuff.
- She doesn’t pursue the limelight. She’s gone on record saying that she doesn’t want to be a celebrity, she just wants to make music (see the 2nd video clip below). Conventional wisdom suggests that in this competitive market, you have to have more drive to “make it.” Adele has the “wrong” priorities.
And besides all these things, there is the fact that after Adele’s meteoric rise to fame (including dominating the Grammys this year), Adele is taking a break. The “rules” say that if especially if you’re new to the top, you have to keep working to stay there. But Adele dropped out after the Grammys to enjoy a new relationship and continue recovering after vocal surgery—and now, to have a baby. We all should have forgot about her by now—and yet, after more than 60 weeks on the Billboard Top 10 (nearly half of that time at No. 1, and most of it within the Top 5), while finally some new releases are pushing Adele’s album 21 to the Number 7 slot, she’s still selling at a very comfortable rate, and she still has the top-selling album of the year—and bear in mind, the album was released early last year.
And that’s just the American charts.
So with all the things that say Adele should not be successful—why is she? Why do we keep singing her songs and buying her records?
This is speculation, of course, but I do think it’s more than her endearing cockney accent. And believe it or not, I think it’s more than her voice—although it certainly deserves the attention it gets, there are plenty of people with more vocal skills than Adele, and they won’t ever be as successful as she is. Rather, I think her mass appeal has come specifically because she is NOT the stereotypical superstar, but more like she is the stereotypical human being. She is the “everyperson.” We see a bit of normalcy in her presence, in her personality, and in the emotions of her songs. In short—we love her because she’s just enough like us that we can relate to her.
As for me, what I love best about Adele is the simple fact that her presence at the top flies in the face of what the industry dictates a superstar should be. In other words—Adele is proving (probably unintentionally) that conventional wisdom is wrong. She is living proof that someone can still make it in pop music these days without all the extra trappings, hype and antics (both onstage and off), or by starving oneself to fit the mold. We don’t love Adele because of these things, but because of the lack of them. At the end of the day, Adele is just a fantastic singer—and that’s enough for us.