Music Notes: Why Adele deserved that top spot
It takes a pretty big statistic to make much of an impact in the music world these days. But Adele has just delivered one.
In times when Westlife and Girls Aloud have racked up enough records to challenge Elvis and The Beatles, you could be forgiven for thinking that the league tables don't so much lie, as that they're hard of hearing.
What's more, I still find it hard to believe how the charts have become such a sideline, how easy they are to disregard; how they go by barely unnoticed. When new pop stars are getting dropped because their records are 'only' going into the charts at number five, what do the charts really tell us?
Despite that, every so often a statistic sticks out; one so compelling that you think 'there must be something to that'. And so it was this week, when the music press woke up to the fact that Adele had been at number one in the album charts for so long that long-held records were about to tumble.
The Essex singer's second album, 21, was at number one for 10 weeks – breaking Madonna's record for the longest stay at the top for a female solo artist.
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Pretty impressive, huh? What's more, her first album, 19 – that's at number two in the charts. In the process of checking my facts for this column (yes, I do that occasionally), I found out who's at number one in the singles charts too. Yes, you've guessed it...
This week there have been a raft of articles in the national press, with the basic theme of how Adele's minimalist approach – a microphone, a massive voice and comparatively small gigs – is proving you don't have to wear a dress made of meat or mimic your own murder on stage to get people interested.
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I haven't been a great fan of Adele this far. She seemed to have the air of a reality TV star and a laugh that could strip paint. And doesn't she carry a little dog around? She's annoyed me a little, you could say.
But if you strip things down to the basics – the songs and the voice – you have to admit there's a phenomenon in the building.
I'm one of those who has bought 21, because my wife asked me to get it for her.
My wife is a busy mother-of-two who rarely gets the chance to listen to the radio or watch TV, so when Adele's music gets past those obstacles, you know something special is emerging. It's that point when albums stop selling like CDs, and more like household products.
I quite like the album, in particular the tracks at either end. The opener, Rolling In the Deep, is one of those songs that sounds like it's always been waiting to be written, with words and music that just fit together. It's a stone-cold classic, and they don't come around too often.
The closer – and current number one – is Someone Like You, a beautifully sung ballad about love and loss.
The stuff in between merges into one another, somewhat. I couldn't tell you much about one particular track.
But I've changed my opinion of Adele. And the most incredible thing. The album title is (was) her age. She's still so young. There's so much more noise to come as she quietly takes over the world.