Personalities | Adele | The Voice
Despite initial comparisons to her fellow Londoner, the late Amy Winehouse, and other female soul acts – Adele has been likened to everyone from the late Whitney Houston to a combination of Joni Mitchell and Carole King – there’s no denying she is now widely thought of as a unique talent.
‘I keep getting called “the new Amy Winehouse” and things like that,’ she told a reporter in 2008 after her first album, 19, began to attract attention. ‘It doesn’t bother me – I’m the biggest Amy fan there is, but when people hear more of my music, they’ll realize we’re not alike.’
Adele’s five-octave contralto has been described by critics as ‘soulful’, ‘rare’ and with a ‘bluesy husk’, while her performances are noted to be ‘spine-tingling’, ‘stunning’ and ‘electrifying’. Music bible Rolling Stone said her sound was ‘a mix of soul power, tender sweetness and scary emotional transparency’. There can be no doubting the talented, pitch-perfect vocalist has wide appeal. Her anguished break-up songs were quick to prove themselves in having significant crossover success as far as building a fanbase was concerned. Adele was the highest-selling artist of 2011, despite having to cancel a good portion of her tour dates after suffering a devastating vocal cord haemorrhage. According to Vogue, the success was largely because the album dabbled in R&B, soul, hip-hop, jazz and country, so managed to cross over ‘to nearly every musical radio format save classical’.
Keeping It Real
Adele’s distinctive sound is coupled with a dramatic yet relatively static performance style. There are a few well-timed hand gestures, and buckets of emotion conveyed in her face, as well as through her powerful, soulful voice. The singer told Vogue as part of the October 2011 cover story – she has twice featured on the magazine’s cover – that she had never given much thought to the presentation of her songs: ‘I definitely think less is more. I don’t think I could pull it off, doing an elaborate show.’ She admits her album contains ‘a couple’ of tracks worthy of ‘a few explosions and dancing teams and stuff’, however she remains adamant that she would feel ‘really uncomfortable’ displaying her music in that way, professing, ‘I just want to sing it.’ While she loves watching other female performers such as Lady Gaga and Katy Perry shake their booties and dance like athletes, for her it’s different: ‘I don’t want to perform with my body.’
Adele is well known for her on-stage, often-bawdy banter. She has an easy, cheeky charm, a distinctive cockney accent and is notorious for cussing like a sailor, even during interviews. But her BRIT finger gesture was not the first time she has flipped the bird on live TV. During an interview with Fox in 2009, she managed to flash an illustrative middle finger as part of an answer to the very first question. The Observer dubbed her...
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