So. Adele, then. What an obnoxious twunt.
First off, let me stem any accusations of backlash, which is the favourite accusation of bleating morons who can’t comprehend that you might just not like somebody. While somebody being extremely popular and thus extremely media-present might bring your dislike to the fore because you can’t turn around without being exposed to them, but if you can’t see how that isn’t the same as disliking them because they’re popular I don’t know what to tell you. It’s second only to ‘you’re just jealous’ in the ranks of stupid cud-chewing internet defences that mean you don’t have to engage with the matter at hand. The political equivalent, of course, is ‘that would have happened anyway’, which allows you to deny your least favourite party credit for actions you agree with.
Anyway. Not backlash. Even when Chasing Pavements came out, I was singularly unimpressed. Bland Radio 2 pap with all the rough edges filed off. Well-produced, smooth and utterly soulless. Even the names of her albums – 19 and 21 – hint at the lack of real fire. That’s the bestthing you can think to say about your album? That you were a certain age when you recorded it?
I’m not trying to say she’s not talented. She can certainly sing, and as I’ve suggested, she’s got some brilliant producers working with her to make her records. Rumour Has It and Set Fire To The Rain, in particular, sound amazing. Rich. Layered. They sound expensive.
Then of course, we come to Someone LIke You. The song that makes everyone cry, apparently. Now, make no mistake, I’m a crier. I’ve cried at Futurama. I’ve cried at Law and Order: Sexy Victims Unit. Once, when I was very ill, I cried at an episode of Pokemon. I can safely say that the overwrought histrionics of a creepy stalker who turns up on the door step of her MARRIED ex and yells in his face about how happy for him she is, but she’ll find someone even better so fuck you buddy, have never brought me to tears. No matter how much appoggiatura she uses.
Lest we forget, she’s young. She’s prbably wrote that song when she was 20 about a relationship she had when she was 18. Even my dry crusted-over heart doesn’t deny young people the right to Feel. Things. Deeply. What’s worrying is the amount of seemingly mature and intelligent adults who’ve taken this song to heart, apparently finding that the rage-filled wailings of a rejected teenager capture their feelings about their ex like nothing else does.
This leads us to her sucess in America, where singing Someone Like You on Saturday Night Live apparently made the whole country grind to a weeping shuddering halt or something. She’s sold like a billion records the, and then won all Grammies. As if Grammies matter. When they have about 87,000 categories and try to draw a line between, like, ‘song’ and ‘record’ and ‘vocal performance’ and goodness knows what else, and give out awards for best cover art and best use of punctuation the sleeves notes, winning a lot of them isn’t so big a deal. The Simpsons had the right take on it.
Homer: I wish I had an award.
Lisa: You’ve got a Grammy!
Homer: I mean an award that counts!
(Note: Mr Simpson’s views do not reflect those of the producers, who do not consider the Grammy an award at all.)
Nonetheless, her wins led to much calloo callay. The UK Press, tabloid and broadsheet alike, lives in a weird double-standard of a world where they like to sneer at America, but equally want nothing more than its approval and validation. You see it every Oscar season with all the ‘The British Are Coming!’ bullcrap just because Judi Dench or Helen Mirren got a nod. America loves Adele! She’s one of us! Therefore they love us! It’s like the Mr Hankey song except with singers instead of anthropomorphic faeces. It’s not necessarily made explicit, but it’s there, lurking.
Selling lots of records means that Adele made lots of money. Which led to bemoaning the fact she had to pay taxes. The link summarises pretty well why that’s so objectionable, but suffice to say bitching about taxes, then saying everything is shit even though you don’t use it, then complaining about paying the taxes that are used to improve the sservices you think are shit is … inconsistent at best.
All this leads us to the Brits, where she sang a song and won some awards. Then, because the show was running late, she got cut off during her acceptance speech. The way people are reacting, you’d think she was punched in the tit and then pushed off the stage to be attacked by rabid dogs. Graceless as ever, she ‘made a rude gesture’. ‘”I flung the middle finger. That was for the suits at the Brit Awards, not my fans. I’m sorry if I offended anyone but the suits offended me,” she said.’ Yeah. Those bastards. Giving you awards. What rude fuckers. People get cut off at awards ceremonies ALL the time. The Oscars are constantly cueing the orchestra to make Gwyneth Paltrow stop crying or make Susan Saradon shut up about poor people. But apparently because it was Saint Adele, this was headline news, rather than the act of keeping a live show on schedule and making time for Blur to perform. Blur who also won an award, but apparently an Adele Award is more important than a Normal Person Award. James Corden had to act all sad and apologetic. ITV and the Brits both had to apologise. For keeping their show on time and giing her awards.
And if that wasn’t enough, it’s even been raised in Parliament. In amid a discussion about the value of exports and why music is good for that (and now desperately, wonderfully Tory to rate something as good only in terms of the money it brings, and how desperately wonderfully Tory to go on about the importance of music as an export while gutting the funding that’s available for allocation to music lessons), Sir George Young talked about how he was ‘disappointed’ that her speech was cut short. While NHS changes are rushed through because there’s allegedly no time to debate them, apparently time can be found to discuss why making money is good and why Adele being interrupted is bad. And then it becomes NEWS (at time of writing, number 5 most read on BBC news) that the Minister thought it was bad, because unless the press is All Adele, All The Time, they’re going to lose a reader or two.
I’m honestly not sure whether it being mentioned in Parliament or it being considered newsworthy makes me more worried.
I’m fully aware that I’ve just contributed to the thousands of column-miles about Adele bouncing around the internet, but can we please have some perspective? She’s a competent pop star with a good voice and talented producers, and she’s also kind of a dick. She’s not the kid from the Twilight Zone and she won’t turn us all into like lizard-dog spiderbabies with the power of thought if we stop saying she’s brilliant for thirty seconds. Let’s just take a few deep breaths and let her go and swim in her money like Scrooge McDuck while feeling sorry for herself for the double hardship of being incredibly rich and being interrupted at Brit Awards.