While I was rummaging through YouTube for a writing assignment in my Music Teen Reviewers and Critics workshop I came across videos of Adele‘s performance at the Royal Albert Hall. My friends have been raving about Adele and they suggested I check out one of her live performances. The newly famous singer performed various pieces from her album “21,” focused on all the relationships she had as a 21-year-old. My favorite song was “Rumour Has It” because it really brought out her spunk and charisma. Her ability to sing about break ups with a flair of independence showed the audience that she’s not constantly depressed. This separates her from some female pop artists who capitalize on the image of a “damsel in distress.”
Adele starts by telling the crowd an anecdote, as if they’re all in an intimate jazz club. “And they all thought that I was seeing some guy that I have never even heard of, so obviously I was pretty pissed off. Pretty mortified that my own friends thought that I was sleeping with some guy that I never even fuckin’ heard of…So I sort of wrote this as a bit of a ‘fuck you’…” The crowd erupted in laughter after hearing her own nasally laugh at the end of her monologue, captivated by her inappropriately frank attitude.
Her humorous disposition signals to viewers that contrary to the content of her records, her attitude isn’t dependent on how she’s treated by men. Hollywood has produced a new generation of young artists, like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, who spend most of their time singing about how smitten or heartbroken they are with a guy. Such female artists promote the idea of a world where women are at the mercy of men’s misogynistic behavior. Adele on the other hand, is one of the few female artists that can still sing about relationships without making herself seem like she’s completely at the mercy of her significant other.
“Rumour Has It” is a perfect example of this attitude. The lyrics tell a story of how her lover left her for someone “half his age” and by the end of the song “rumour has it I’m [Adele] the one you’re leaving her for,” implying that her lover plans to win her back. The use of the phrase “rumour has it” demonstrates how removed she is from the drama. Even though she could be one of the key players in this love triangle, it’s evident that she doesn’t care enough to get involved. Every time I hear this song I can imagine Adele just sitting back, watching her ex-lover run around like a chicken with his head cut off.
Her lyrical quality is impressive but her vocal quality is really what puts her over the top. Normally, Adele sticks to singing in a deep alto, which is partly responsible for the resonating effect of her music. However, in “Rumour Has It” she’s able to communicate feelings of resentment using the entire musical scale, not just the alto parts. She moves fluidly to and from each end, back and forth, holding notes as required. Considering how powerful and diverse of a range she produces, it’s no wonder she developed a hemorrhage on her vocal cords.
Unfortunately, Adele has canceled all upcoming dates for a live tour in the United States. You can keep up with her tour dates on her website: http://www.adele.tv/live/.