By Hans Ebert
There’s an awful lot written about “25″, the new record by Adele that’s been four years in the making. Most of everything written reads like one very long press release cranked out by a relentless marketing machine intent on ensuring that this record results in massive sales, numerous Grammys, and a Sainthood for Mother Adele.
All this I can accept with a wry smirk, but damned if I’m going to believe that here is the record that will save the entire music industry. That’s just stupid and makes the inordinate amount of hype behind the release of this record ring hollow, clang contrived, and makes everyone connected with it drip of insincerity. Including Mother Adele.
Mother Adele is starting to be portrayed as a bit of a goose- the agony aunt and bunny boiler of confessional songs who swears a lot in interviews and seems to either believe in her own hype, or has been hypnotised to play a role wearing a starched frock. Success and Big Corporate Bucks can corrupt and unhinge even the most down-to-earth artist who has previously shunned the fame game. And when an artist seems to wallow in self-pity, well misery loves company and they’re easily manipulated.
Everything about this new Adele has made me queasy as visuals of the character Alexis Forrester from “Fatal Attraction” screaming, “I will NOT be ignored” hurtle across my psyche. Perhaps this was what she was screaming at the river in the video for the flip-phoned out “Hello”? “I will NOT be ignored!”
Five, maybe even three years from now when the legalese behind Confidentiality Clauses runs out, I am tipping that all the truth and half truths about this record will surface, and, with it, open up Pandora’s Box to all the dirty little secrets used to con the public about television talent competitions and all those who worked under marriages of convenience and collusion to rake in millions under the guise of “music” when it’s always been about showbiz.
Right here and now, however, I really don’t understand how this record is going to “save the music industry”. One supposes, however, that if one says something enough over and over and over again, hype becomes reality, and suspending belief becomes second nature.
“25″ might save the music company behind the record, it will definitely sustain Adele’s career and make the artist a very rich woman, but no one record by anyone is going to save the music industry today unless, through some miracle of life, Moses arrived, parted the Red Seas, and produced a hundred new records featuring Elvis singing with the Beatles and featuring cameo appearances from Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf. And Ed Sheeran and Elton John. And that ain’t gonna happen.
Not having heard Adele’s “25″, it’s not possible to comment on the new music, but, more and more, there are dribs and drabs to suggest that the chanteuse might not be the easiest person to work with, something borne out of her inability to write with the also difficult Damon Albarn, and, most recently, Phil Collins describing Adele as being “slippery” after another writing collaboration hit the skids without even so much as a Hello. “Slippery” is an interesting choice of words, one that immediately paints an unflattering picture of someone who’s untrustworthy and bends the truth. Again, Alexis Forrest comes to mind.
In selling anything, especially music, the likability factor is all important- forget the X Factor- and reading the above review of “25″ in The Independent, one has to wonder if there now exists a division within the ranks between Team Adele, and those who see the singer as a bit of a diva- a cross between Mariah Carey and Nora Desmond- surrounded by enablers and sycophants looking after their golden goose while she still can lay golden eggs. “25″ will definitely be a Golden egg that will break all previous records, but, again, what’s breaking records got to do with saving the music industry?
One monkey don’t stop the show and one Adele is not four Beatles- it’s always ALWAYS back to the Beatles- who changed thinking, inspired an entire generation, revolutionised the music industry forever, and are still the benchmark for everything to do with creativity in popular music.
The Beatles did not achieve any of this through one record though first hearing the intro to “I Saw Her Standing There” made many pick up guitars and start to form bands. It was a quicksilver messenger service chain reaction that caused change and with every new musical step taken by the Beatles pushing that creative envelope and sending their messages out to the world with loving care.
John Lennon was right when he said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. We might not have been able to be Jesus, but there was always the hope that we just might come close to being the Beatles. That’s what the Beatles gave the world: Hope and that All You Need Is Love.
It was never about one record that’s been four years in the making and the end product of committee decisions hell-bent on ensuring that every KPI is met with the only USP being the marketing spend that had to be the biggest in the history of the music business. And that’s what bothers me about Adele and “25″. It’s all about business and numbers and bottom lines and return on investments and feeding the golden goose until it’s well and truly stuffed.
While Adele is starting to look like one over-stuffed turkey that’s too much to go around- overkill does this to any product- it’s given someone like Justin Bieber the breathing space to regroup, rethink, re-energise and get his runaway train back on track. He’s likeable again. He’s grown up, and he’s making new music that’s released without the bells and whistles and tedious back stories that have always been used recently to prop up flagging careers and television ratings.
As The Who once sang, We Won’t Get Fooled Again as none of that People magazine gossip fodder has anything to do with any of us or the honesty heard and felt in truly honest music. Hearing honest music makes us better people, and better people come together to create a better world. And Gawd knows we need a better world today far more than we need to buy into a product that’s looking and sounding more and more disingenuous and creepy every day.