She’s the queen of heartbreak and the newly crowned princess of soul-pop. Maybe her success came as a result of the heartbreak she’s experienced herself. Adele is one of the few in the industry that can stand (or even sit) with a microphone with no theatrics at all, and still astound an entire audience. Her success in 2011 alone is incredible. Her sophomore release, 21, has sold more than double anything else in the last year. This means that if you cry to her music, there are millions more who’ve done the same. And if you haven’t, you clearly haven’t experienced anything in your life.
The ever-powerful “Someone Like You” has even become a subject of playful satire in its recent culture, not just because of its popularity but simply because of its impact as a song. On SNL’s November 12th episode, the cast played out a dramatization of the effect of the song as the ensemble wept together, and thought bubbles showed the audience what they were each thinking about. One woman was caught in the middle of a fight between her parakeets and “Someone Like You” made her feel like she wasn’t alone.
So that might be a stretch, but regardless, “Someone Like You” and other songs penned by the songstress definitely generate a reaction from their listeners. Here’s a few clues into what’s happening with your emotions.
1. The ever-simple piano and vocal combo. It’s a classic move that’s proven lethal to anyone with hormones. Celine, Whitney and Elton have all mastered it, and Adele is the perpetrator of today’s music scene. With just a row of white and black keys and her God-given talent, this woman does as the greats before her have done by simply delivering. Whether it’s the perfect combination of chord progressions or the simple melodies that are only produced on the piano, somehow the delivery between the two is no good for a heavy heart.
2. Something about her voice. There isn’t another set of pipes in the industry that’s quite as raw and full of passion. Adele’s soulful vocals have the power to fill a room and resound in the eardrums while staying so gentle and tender. A soft vibrato that trails off. The British taste that comes out every so often is also something we don’t hear much of in America so it’s refreshing. Europeans tend to do things a different way, and though she sings about many of the situations we relate to, we can never reach the proper way of spelling it out like they do overseas.
3. Adele’s been where you’ve been before. She came, she saw, she conquered. And then she sang about it. You relate to her story because she writes about things that have happened to everyone at least once. Unrequited love, being cheated on, feeling alone. Not only that, but she speaks of it in a way that you could’ve never described. And if you’ve experienced this, the pain you feel is brought back again when she opens her voice and spills all. The pain is relived but also relieved. Adele heals!
4. Regardless of what happened, it’s universal. So what if you haven’t been heartbroken before? Many of the metaphors in Adele’s music are quite vague in the best way. Leaving out specifics of any storyline allow for any listener to fill in the blanks and open it up to a story of their own that relates to her words. Plus, the way her hands paint a picture during live performance can assist in any storytelling that needs to happen for any listener to get their cry on.
Take for example the slow and powerful “Turning Tables“:
Under haunted skies I see you, ooh
Where love is lost, your ghost is found
I braved a hundred storms to leave you
As hard as you try, no I will never be knocked down
5. It’s the most honest thing you’ve ever heard. They say you’re most honest when you’ve been drinking. In an interview with The Sun, Adele explained that most of her lyrics came from a diary she had written while she had been drinking. If you’re one of those people who get emotional while under the influence, then this is right up your alley. Plus, the lyrics are a testament to the revelations you may be too shy (or sober) to admit. So allow your eyes to well up and your mind to be blown by the thoughts you hadn’t thought of.
6. Maybe you miss her. Adele has been unable to sing since her Nov. 7th vocal cord surgery, postponing many appearances and tour opportunities for fans to hear the woman live (and cry with her in person). She’s been out of the spotlight and in the dark for a while. Here’s to hoping she gets better so we can be enlightened by her wisdom sometime in the near future!
Essentially it’s down to the voice with the piano and the production that sparks something in its listeners. The British beauty in her voice also remind us of how humble she is and how we’ll never be as good as her. But that’s okay because the music she’s produced on 19 and 21 will suffice for now. Pass the tissues.