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Tuesday 14 February 2012

Two Moments In Time.

I'm sure that we've all seen at least some of the footage of the UK singer/songwriter Adele performing 'Rolling In The Deep' at the Grammys the other night by now?

Not surprisingly, i suppose, it was featured on all of our major news bulletins here in the UK and a very good performance it was too. It certainly made me appreciate the song far more than i had done before. I thought that it brought out the bluesy and gospel feel of the song.
By the way, a lot of the footage has now been taken down from YouTube etc due to copyright demands from the Grammys themselves, spoilsports.

One thing that i noticed about the performance was the reaction of the crowd afterwards. A prolonged standing ovation and a feeling that, for once at least, it was a genuine and spontaneous reaction from the assembled musicians and lesser Grammy goers.

But, it also reminded me of a similar performance very nearly a year ago at the Brit Awards, in London. That performance was of 'Someone Like You' (Watch in HD), but although i didn't see the awards ceremony, to be honest they bore me to tears, i do remember the reaction afterwards.

Although Adele was a big star at the time, the introduction mentioned the fact that she was Number 1 in 17 countries at that moment, that performance catapulted her even higher.

That live version of 'Somone Like You' was played, seemingly, non-stop on UK radio and the song flew to the top of the charts. The YouTube video of that performance went viral and was being shared all over the world. The link above has now been watched over 94 million times!

It was at that time that i started to notice American friends of mine sharing that video on Facebook and suddenly realising that they'd stumbled onto someone quite special.

Fast forward a year and now another great live performance, this time in the USA, threatens to send Adele's career into virtual orbit. Yes, she has already topped the U.S charts and set chart records galore. But i think that the effect of last Sunday's performance will have, once again,  showcased Adele's talent to a whole new audience.
Winning 6 Grammy awards obviously doesn't exactly hinder that either.

But, why her?

Well, i can't pretend to be any expert on the music of Adele. I have both of her albums in my iTunes library, but that is only because i've bought the albums for my wife. I've never actually listened to them all the way through. In some ways, i don't really have to as i hear Adele's music everywhere anyway.

But, i do appreciate it and certainly enjoyed both of those career defining live performanaces mentioned above. For me, the live performances that i've seen have been better than the recorded ones and maybe that's why those tv performances have had such an impact?

As the compere of that Brit Awards show said after Adele had sung, there was no need for pyrotechnics, just a piano and a voice.

Adele doesn't need dancing girls, sexy videos, or autotune and she also just doesn't do lip-synching unlike the majority of other, especially female, singers around at the moment. She relies instead on what she does best, singing and singing with real emotion too. That is obviously helped by the fact that she writes the majority of her own songs.
Yes, she had a full backing band at the Grammys, but it was still an understated performance.
It is all about the performance, there are no distractions.

What people are being drawn to i think, in the case of Adele, is something that they haven't really been able to get from a pop star for some years now. A return to a kind of back to basics performance, just like in the old days.

Another selling point and i'm sure that this is not just coincidence, is the abscence of any real "image". Although, i do feel that this has in actual fact now become her image. Whether that is by accident, or design, i'm not sure.
Without meaning to sound mean, Adele looks rather plain and just doesn't have that 'pop star' look that other female singers have. This means that all of the attention is drawn to her voice and performance and i think she succeeds all the more for that.
This sets her apart from the likes of Lady Gaga, Rhianna and Beyonce, all of whom use their bodies, sexiness and shock tactics to help sell their music.

Adele's success and the reaction to these performances just goes to show that the public do actually appreciate and recognise a great talent when they see and hear one. Hopefully, it will also lead to the general public starting to see through those shock tactics employed by others and help provoke a return to real performances.

Whilst i can't pretend to be the biggest fan of her music,  i'm more than happy to stand up and applaud the talents of Adele. I have a feeling that i'm not alone in that.

Let's hope that her success might herald a new generation of original performers with genuine talent, instead of the ersatz pop performers we've been subjected to for far too long now.

Let's hope also that those two great performances will be followed by many others in the years to come.

PS: Here is a video of Adele's debut tv performance: Daydreamer - June 2007
I know i will have seen this at the time, but don't remember it. I guess that just goes to show that we can't always spot talent when it is in front of us?,


  1. In a time when everything has to have a gimmick, the lack of a gimmick may be the greatest gimmick of them all. It's also so damned refreshing to hear a true artist emerge in this era.

    There's an image going 'round on facebook comparing music of the 40's to now, and lamenting the state of things. On one side is a picture of Frank Sinatra, along with some lyrics he made famous, on the other is Justin Bieber with some of his lyrics.

    But one could just as easily redo that meme with the lyrics of "Mares Eat Oats" on the 40s side and Adele on the current side. There's great music in every generation, if you just know where to look.

  2. Ken: As i suggested i have a feeling having no apparent image is actually her image.
    I did see that FB post. It did make me smile, but as with all those things it's easy to pick extreme examples like that.
    Yes, all generations have good music, it's finding it that is often the problem. At the moment far too much of the good stuff is hidden below the surface & doesn't get the publicity it deserves.