Monday, October 10, 2011

Rolling In The Deep by Adele

Listen to her voice. What is going on here?

There’s this fascinating tradition of “Blue-eyed soul,” British singers who sing soul music so remarkably well giving America soul singers a run for their money. Adele adds to this tradition with her first album 19 and her most recent album 21. Right now she is demolishing any American representation of soul music in sales and it’s because she's good, really good.

If you pay attention to pop music you’ve probably heard Adele’s most successful single “Rolling In The Deep.”

Adele is one of the best arguments against the idea that success in pop music is reliant on how much like a supermodel you look and how sensually you can dance. I’m not saying she doesn’t have great stage presence but most people wouldn’t pick her out of a line-up as the most successful artist of the year, but after hearing her perform it’s easy to understand why she has connected with the world.

Adele has a rich, velvety alto voice. Unlike many less skilled singers, Adele mixes dark chest tones with her lighter head voice with ease. She belts out higher notes but it doesn’t sound strained and out of tune. There’s a lightness to the weight to her voice combines with darkness of her tone that is simply amazing and breathtaking.

Then there’s the music itself. “Rolling In The Deep” and all of the other songs on 21 are beautifully constructed works of pop art. What makes great pop music is the ability to connect with a wide range of audiences. It’s not about being all things to all people but creating music through it’s subject and sonic landscape that is universal but are also interesting.

“Rolling In The Deep” is catchy. It’s features a thumping four on the floor drum pulse, rising chorus and a great breakdown in the end of the song. You basically have the best out of pop song structure that appeals to younger audiences. Combine this with a voice that is reminiscent to older audiences of Aretha Franklin with intriguing but non-threatening lyrics and it’s no wonder why Adele has been ruling the sales charts for the past year.

I asked my 5th grade students to list some of their favorite songs and "Rolling In The Deep" came up multiple times.  It's one of the only songs they listed that I wouldn't hesitate to buy for my mom.  It's easy to get disillusioned by pop music, but there's really great stuff out there and Adele's a prime example.

Just in case you're not convinced . . .

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