She’s successful, she’s popular and she’s everywhere. From radio 1 to to the 54th annual Grammy Awards, last year you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing or hearing about Adele. And that was my biggest problem with 2011.
I’m not taking a single thing away from Adele when I call her boring, because she’s already got enough innovativeness under her belt. Would I agree that she is a multi-instrumentalist? Yes, I definitely would. Is she a good singer? Without question, she’s a good singer, taking a lot of the contralto Motown influences that shaped the vocals of singers like Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald. Her fame spans across the globe as a ‘British icon’. That’s exactly my problem with Adele, and that’s why I wont be buying into her industry of generic impersonation of pop music.
The puppets administered by the BBC described Adele as “leaving her contemporaries for dust” in a review of her acclaimed record 21. Now, folk law and masses of public opinion place rhythm and blues connoisseur Ray Charles as releasing the greatest soul album of all time with The Genius Of Ray Charles. You could probably put him as number one in the poll for ‘most pretentious album title of all time’ too. But as well as being an album of pure brilliance and invention, Charles does something that Adele has not yet done. Charles gave his fans and the public a taste of attitude and a blink at his personality.
Adele can show us that she can sing, but that’s all. She can weep behind her piano, topple the summit of Everest with her melodies and give her fans the grotesque, plastic parasocial relationship they crave. That’s not what I want out of someone who makes all of the headlines. I want someone who sketches the ‘anarchy’ symbol onto Adrian Chiles’ face everyone they perform on ITV’s Daybreak. I want a singer who coughs up a little bit of blood when they go for the hight notes. When I see a band live, I want to see them rip a stage into and to fling pig shit at the audience. Sadly, with Adele, all you’re going to get is a cacophonous Tottenham accent telling you how expressive the colour brown is.
I was lucky enough to see Crystal Castles live once. And my God, did they put on a show. Two people built of abstractive mystery and acidic material, they divided their art on stage into twenty percent of following their set list and performing unfathomable experimental dance music, and eighty percent of dosing up on LSD, Jack Daniel’s and electricity. Even with a foot engrossed in plaster, font-woman Alice Glass threw herself around the stage at the 02 Arena in Bristol, clasping her crutch in one hand and a bottle of bourbon in the other. It was astonishing, and I’m glad to have shared the experience with Crystal Castles.
Surely, when you go to a gig, thats what you want? An experience. Those I know who have looked up at the presence of Adele haven’t had an experience. They’ve simply seen her live, watched her sing or witnessed her sit on a chair while her backing band look bored. To me, that is the musical equivalent of queuing up at the post office for a book of stamps, or cutting the grass in my back garden with a pair of felt scissors. There’s nothing vining around the foundations to it. There’s nothing extra.
Maybe it’s unfair of me to purely pick on Adele, because it’s the same with a lot of singers. I could have just as easily ranted about how unoriginal Lady Gaga is, or how mediated the antics of Pete Doherty are presented. Unfortunately, Adele perfectly embodies the trains that represent the dull, diluted and stripped down music that the corporate majority want us to listen to. We need more popular music stars to mirror what the Sex Pistols did in their infamously uncensored interview with Bill Grundy. We need more GG Allin’s to take a handful of laxatives before a gig.
When I first heard the hype surrounding the popular singer Adele, I took a great interest and planted great expectations to listening to what she had to bring to the nations table. And sure enough, she was impeccably tight to the notes, technically sound and a joyful representation of what our countries pop music could do. And from that first listen to ‘Chasing Pavements’ back in 2008, I’ve not listened not tuned into Radio 1 since. Pop music is dying, and Adele is an accessory to the murder.