March 1, 2011

Adele second album "21" proves the music industry has it wrong

     On pace to top the Billboard 200 with projected first week sales from 275,000-300,000 copies (the biggest week since the Christmas season), Adele’s “21” arches its way from the sophomore slump usually associated with artists with critically acclaimed debut albums. I am happy for her success not only as an Adele fan but as a music fan who has watched the decline of quality and talent promoted by the music industry in the last ten years.

A true example of substance over style, she is not to be confused with Beyonce or Lady Gaga. No ass shaking,  publicity stunts, or leotard here; she writes or co-writes all of her songs and performs with a live band and wait - no back up dancers, fancy lighting, revealing clothes or wind machine. Imagine that.

In the digital age when record sales are decreasing, record companies have an increasing roster of manufactured artists that appeal to a younger market to make that quick buck. They failed to realize that mature audiences tend to be more loyal to their favorite artists instead of outgrowing them and are the consumers with a higher disposable income.

The average sales week of a single today is several times higher than that of a whole album compared to ten years ago when albums outsold singles. Yes, most of the blame is due to music piracy but looking at recent big album sellers, one has to question if that is the only factor.

 The recent success of former unknowns Susan Boyle and Jackie Evancho catapulted into fame by reality shows and whose albums charted at #1 and #2 ahead of Rihanna proves the music beats image. Taylor Swift has the fastest selling album in five years with a debut week that moved more than a million copies. Some have criticized her as a great songwriter with less than stellar vocals lacking a stage persona but her fans have shown that while acrobatic dances dazzle during a five minute performance, quality songs and lyrics dazzle at the cash register.

Onto Adele’s album: The eleven track disc was inspired by former flame and slightly influenced by country, roots and bluegrass which she gained interest while touring the US to promote her first album "19". Adele displays growth in her sound and lyrics with a voice that is better than ever managing to infuse her different genres without jeopardizing its pop integrity.

The opener and first single “Rolling in the Deep”. “Rumour Has It”, a cheeky story using  he said she said to describe a tumultuous relationship. “Turning Tables” and “Someone Like You” are the most honest ballads I have heard in a long time while the bridge in “One and Only” is breathtaking. You can hear the country influence on “Don’t You Remember” and “One and Only” but it is not overwhelming for you non-country fans. I also enjoyed the harmonies on the bonus track remake of The Steeldrivers’ “If It Hadn’t Been For Love”. Please note that bonus tracks vary depending on region. The weakest song on the album in my opinion is "Lovesong" which is a bit boring compared to the others and resembles a 90s K.D. Lang track but maybe it will grow on me.

Overall rating: 10/10. If you like real music, please buy Adele's album and show the record companies what the people want to hear.

* March 9th UPDATE* Adele's album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 with sales of over 352,000 and held its top spot for a second week in a row with sales of 168,000 bringing its total over 520,000. It has become the biggest selling album of 2011 thus far. Hooray!




1 comment:

  1. Very excellent review. Co-signing from VA! Real music, REAL talent, range, writing, feeling, wins. While Rolling in the Deep and One and Only and my top picks on the cd, Set Fire to the Rain is worth a good listen as well. Lovesong was weakish, but even at weakish, this lady is strong!

    Adele is well on her way to vintage, IMHO.
    Peace, Naj