This has been a long time coming. I have a bit of a grudge against Adele. Partly because I used to have a friend who got so into Adele, she started copying her hair and makeup. My unease reached a high point when, at her wedding, she covered "Make You Feel My Love", and credited it to Adele. I happened to know that wasn't right (BOB DYLAN, AHEM), and I gritted my teeth, but it was her WEDDING, what can you say? We stopped being friends shortly after that, for a variety of other reasons, but it didn't do anything to make me into an Adelian (I just looked it up and her fans are called Daydreamers, but I like mine better).
Some disclaimers before we get started:
- I'd say I'm sure Adele is a nice person, but I'm not. Actually, I suspect we have similar personalities. Which is to say... yeah. You already know I don't really like anyone.
- I've never listened to any of her albums in full, and I've never bought anything of hers. I'm not going to. She has big money's juggernaut behind her, so it's not like she needs my support.
- In general, I far prefer male voices to female.
Let's talk about reasons people DO like Adele
"She has such a big voice!" Yes! This might be the only thing you people are right about. It is big. It is loud. And I prefer big, loud female voices to the waifish, fluffy, floaty kind. BUT. You can do big and loud without all those globs of STYLIZATION and ORNAMENTATION. You create a powerful sound with support, not pushing. You can sing the way Adele is (it's called oversinging) for a few years, and then you have vocal cord problems. You can be plus-sized and not have this kind of voice, and you can be petite and have a bigger voice than this. Literally only has to do with support.
If you're more into the classic sound ("Rumour Has It" was deliberately engineered to sound vintage, and that's fine!), then I'd urge you to look into Billie Holiday or Sarah Vaughan, Etta James (who Adele claims to be influenced by!), etc.
For a more recent perspective, Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes) and Rachael Price (Lake Street Dive) do this kind of soul-singing with, to my mind, more skill than Adele.
Now, if you were taken by this new single, "Hello", let me tell you - this sounds like something Imogen Heap might have done ten years ago. To the note. You might want to look into her. You might also want to listen to more Broadway music (think Idina Menzel) if this is really your kind of thing.
"She does so much with her voice!" Yes. And so did Mariah Carey and Celine Dion. And no one talks about them anymore, now do they? No. You know why? Because we left that kind of warbling BEHIND in the 90s dust, and now Adele is reviving it, and I'm PISSED.
But here's a news flash: you can sing big and loud, and do a lot with your voice, and still not come off this over-produced and slick (at this point all I have to do is hear the words "blue-eyed soul" and I break out in a rash.).
You want bold voices? Susan Tedeschi. Grace Potter. Bonnie Raitt. Rhiannon Giddens. Candi Staton.
You can have a deeper voice without being heavy-handed (Joan Shelley). You can have an emotive voice without sounding stereotypical (Kathleen Edwards).
I'm beginning to think Adele is Britain's Taylor Swift. (I don't mean this as a slight to either of them - there are clear parallels to be drawn, although they are obviously pitched to different markets.)
This is starter music, the milk to the meat of these other names I've listed. Branch out, make a little effort, dig deeper. You'll thank me later.