Adele rolls into deep success with ‘21’

By Meera Connors

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Adele’s second studio album, “21,” released last January gives listeners an explicit look into Adele’s recent encounters with love, loss, regret, anger and forgiveness.


The singer-songwriter translated her tragic breakup into a No. 1 album that went on to sell 17 million copies globally, as well as top the charts of 26 countries, and garnered six Grammy nominations including: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Short Form Music Video, Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Pop Solo Performance.

Her soulful, bluesy sound generated enthusiasm and popularity for the 23-year-old, and singles from her album such as “Rolling in the Deep,” “Set Fire to the Rain” and “Someone Like You” led her to become the first solo artist ever to lead the charts with those three songs while concurrently leading the Billboard 200 album chart.

People worldwide recognize the young vocalist’s songs from the constant radio performances; however this does not detract from the integrity or emotion of the songs. “Rolling in the Deep,” a rather bluesy gospel song, portrays Adele’s anger at her former significant other.

She sings, “I can’t help feeling we could have had it all” and “You had my heart inside of your hand/And you played it to the beat.” Basically, Adele realizes compromise isn’t an option here, and this is her song to express her resentment towards her ex.

The instrumentation of this song consists of percussion, tambourine and piano as well as clapping and stomping. While the song starts out with a simple guitar strumming, it then builds to a dramatic, powerful bridge, expressing Adele’s anger and frustration.

“Rumor Has It,” a sassy and powerful jazz song on “21,” was in fact aimed at her friends, not the media, who spread rumors about her break-up with her ex-boyfriend. Lyrics such as, “You made a fool out of me and/Boy, I’m bringing you down” exemplify her anger and frustration with those she thought were her friends.

Adele revealed that it was “… pretty mortifying …” that her own friends believed the stuff they read in magazines over her. The strong girl-group harmonies of “Rumor has It” along with the rhythmic clapping and stomping create a solid, percussive song.

Arguably her most famous song on the album, “Someone Like You,” has a sweeter, gentler and sadder tone to it than the other songs on the album. It is about Adele telling herself that she’s ready to move on, and that the memories of their love will remain forever. She wishes him well, but she will never forget him. Adele admitted that she was stepping away from the bitter tone of resentment she carried throughout the album that was aimed at her ex, and ended with a reassuring song that she was going to be okay.

The lyrics are stunning but simple, and state powerful messages about finally being at peace with her past relationship. “Never mind I’ll find someone like you/ I wish nothing but the best for you too/Don’t forget me, I’ll beg/I’ll remember you said/ Sometimes it lasts in love/ But sometimes it hurts instead.” This verse really summarizes what Adele is trying to convey in the album.

Overall, the musicality of Adele’s album ranges from powerful, percussive beats that crescendo towards the highlight of the piece, to slow and somber ballads such as “Don’t You Remember.” Although there is a wide range of musical styles within the album, each song serves as an emotional release relating to her breakup.

In a recent interview with Cosmopolitan magazine, Adele spoke about her childhood, boys and her career. She stated she knew wanted to be a singer by the age of 12, being inspired by iconic female R&B and jazz vocalists such as Aretha Franklin and Etta James.

She also said she channels her soulful voice to sing about the pain of her relationships and heartbreaks.

Adele even stated in her interview, “Ugh, people must think I am this total mope. But I’m really not. I’m actually quite fun and happy most of the time.”

Unfortunately, Adele has had to go through vocal cord microsurgery in order to treat a benign polyp on her vocal cords, which was causing recurrent bleeding. She has made a recovery, however, and is expected to perform at the Grammys.

Meera Connors  can be reached at [email protected]