Adele is one helluva soul-soothing star on the rise. This week, Adele is gracing your local magazine aisles as the latest cover artist on the new issue of Rolling Stone. She’s just knocked Britney Spears from the number one spot on the Billboards, and Beyonce has said that when she listens to Adele, she feels like she is “listening to God.” She is even being featured on the newest episode of Glee where the cast is singing songs by “neglected artists” (a bit strange considering how major her success has been this year), and Glee actress Amber Riley recently covered Adele’s song “Someone Like You.”
It hard to believe that just a few years ago, the English singer-songwriter, born Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, was being signed by XL Recordings (whose employees she recently gave a generous £1000 bonus due to her recent success) after attracting attention with a three-song demo on Myspace. Adele became a breakthrough success in Britain when her 2008 debut 19 went certified triple platinum and premiered at number one in the UK. Now, her newest album 21 is enjoying even better critical acclaim here in the United States.
- America did start out neglecting the star the for the first half of 2008 after 19‘s debut in January 2008, where it spent only three weeks in the Billboard 200 and made it only as far as the 54th spot. A lucky sales spike and Billboard chart return (she reached the 19th spot this time) did come Adele’s way after she appeared in an October episode of SNL, which ended up being the most viewed episdoe in 14 years. The singer has been quoted saying that Sarah Palin, who made a guest spot on the same SNL episode, “made her career” by coming on the show.
- Her career afterward remained steady with hit singles “Chasing Pavements” and “Hometown Glory” bombarding the background of many American television dramas. The effect is on a larger scale now, with Adele’s strong vocals being heard all over, from indie to top 40 radio and music sites, and everybody is hoping to jump on her soul train.
- 2011 has marked the pinnacle of Adele’s career so far with her latest album. Inspired by a rough breakup with a man who put her “on the road” she’s traveling on, the album has taken over. You would think the rapidness of it all may have gone to her head, but Adele is still just a 22 year old woman overcoming stage fright. In her interview with Rolling Stone she said, “I’m scared of audiences. One show in Amsterdam I was so nervous I escaped out the fire exit. I’ve thrown up a couple of times. Once in Brussels I projectile vomited on someone. I just gotta bear it. But I don’t like touring. I have anxiety attacks a lot.”
- Well, she’s going to have to stretch those legs and get out the protective barriers this year. Currently, Adele is on a very long tour across the United Kingdom and on through America. It’s a big change from the 11 venues she toured in the U.S. in 2008 and well-deserved after what she has achieved here. Her album 21 spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 (and maybe more, since it has recently reclaimed the top spot) and became the first album to sell a million copies this year. Adele told MTV, “It’s magical being here. I didn’t think I’d ever release a record [in the States]. It’s a big deal in England. There’s a massive thing, like, ‘Did you crack America?!?’ The biggest acts in England, no one has any idea who they are here. For people to [buy my albums in the U.S.] is amazing.”
And Adele’s sales fared even better in her home country.
With a heart-breaking performance at the 2011 BRIT Awards, she garnered a standing ovation and helped “Someone Like You” hold the number one position in the UK charts (alongside her album) for four consecutive weeks. Take a moment to watch her incredible BRIT Awards performance below. (Caution: Adele chokes up a bit the end of the song, so keep some tissues by your side!)
From that time on, Adele seemed to smash through every musical record in sight. She was announced as the first living artist to achieve the feat of two top-five hits in both the Official Singles Chart and the Official Albums Chart simultaneously since The Beatles in 1964. 21 has also spent eleven consecutive weeks in the number one spot in the UK, making it the longest-running chart-topper ever by a female solo artist on the UK Album Chart (taking down Madonna’s nine weeks at number one back in 1990 with her greatest hits compilation The Immaculate Collection). Adele also broke the record for most UK digital downloads.
What makes Adele special is that she gives off an aura that no other Top 40 musician has given us in a long time. Anybody can be taught — or at least electronically altered — to sing, but no one can teach you how to have soul.