Monday, November 23, 2015

Don't Kill The MEH-ssenger

This is the "raw mic feed" from Adele's SNL performance this weekend.

Here are some quotes I've read about Adele this weekend.


"She is God."

"She's this generation's Elvis, Beatles and Michael Jackson."

"She is this generation's Streisand."


"Most singers could not pull this off."

"Really? Not sure what I'm missing here. I listened and watched closely. Help me."


"OK...she really is desperately overrated, as a vocalist and writer. Yeah we get it, dumped. Go party, get shagged and get over yourself. You can't build a career on one sad spunkmonkey...."

OH...and this:

"The singer debuted “Hello” and “When You Were Young” on live TV. Needless to say, both performances were impeccable. Her voice was powerful, her presence was commanding, the audience was stunned. Everyone started crying."

Your turn, and please, if your plan is to leave one of those "oh who cares, if you don't like her, don't listen to her, to each his own" type comments, utilize those 18 seconds in another way. Remember, Adele is God.


William Repsher said...

I wouldn't say "don't listen to her" as much "don't listen to assholes on the internet."

She has a fine voice, no two ways around it. New album sounds bland as hell to me, no tracks anywhere near as compelling as the singles from the last album. I guess we should be glad it's selling like hotcakes as it represents another link in the chain of the most popular recordings artists of their time putting out mediocre material and fans buying it regardless of quality? This trend has been going on for decades and has been in great danger of disappearing all together.

This was average in the 70's. Linda Ronstadt isolated vocal? Olivia Newton-John? Melanie? You can pick any Top 40 female pop singer from that time period, and her vocal abilities, whether or not you liked her music, could floor you. That's what you call a professional singer. I've heard women singing in bar bands and the occasional karaoki bar who can pull this off -- they have talent.

I understand there's an isolated vocal of Taylor Swift floating around out there that's less than complimentary. Despite Ryan Adams thinking she's a genius!

Noam Sane said...

Mom Rock. I got a few minutes into it before I gave up. I guess she can sing. Lots of people can sing. It's product, no more or less. Bland.

I was going to say inoffensive but it offends me in that it's corporate crap for people who, to quote Terry Adams, "hear all music the same." I find it fairly easy to avoid this stuff, of course I don't leave the house much.

jeff said...

I get so lost in her voice that I need Google Maps to find my way out.

wardo said...

I'm not familiar with most music from this century, but I enjoy "Rolling In The Deep" more and more every time I hear it.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I made it through the second verse, and I'm going to pad my dislike enough to make the comments "cut".
Maybe it's the lack of autotune or processing? She has pitch, and can sing.

She's no Elvis, Frank, Linda, Emmy Lou, or Sinead. I don't hear any real heartbreak, just some minor gymnastics, but then I'm in a bad mood, so maybe I just wasn't open enough.

I can't stand the song. I cringe every time I hear "Hello". That's a call nobody wants, regardless of gender. It's drunk dialing, all about the dialer.
I'd rather hear "I Will Survive".

David Byrne has apparently said (I didn't take the click-bait to go to the actual interview) that the internet is going to suck all the creativity out of our culture, and he may be right in that the more corporate it becomes the less interesting it will be. Corporate Rock still sucks.

I hate "Glee", "The Voice", melisma, autotune, and most of what passes for popular (mono)culture these days.

Yes, indeed, I'm cranky.

Sal Nunziato said...

"Yes, indeed, I'm cranky."

Doesn't make all you're saying untrue.

M_Sharp said...

She has an excellent voice and sung the song well, but the song doesn't do anything for me. "Everyone started crying"... I'm kinda skeptical about that. I get the feeling that the raves are from fans of the TV singing competition shows I hate.

The video's been taken down almost everywhere, I had to got to about a dozen sites before I found this one that had 1:52 of the song:

mauijim said...

21 was that rare album where the artist best creative moment was met with mass acceptance not unlike BITUSA for Bruce.
Only remarkable artist(s) have their follow up be even more interesting such as Tunnel or F Mac with Tusk. Most follow up with
something like The Long Run. 25 sounds more like that.

Patrick Brennick said...

I think that Adele is a real singer - not the trumped up crap that's usually passed off as singing these days. While there were a few songs on 21 that were very good, I did not care for most of the songs on the new one. My wife, who can be more judgmental than I can be, agrees that 21 was really good and that 25 is not very good. She has talent, but doesn't use it to her best advantage with the songs on 25.

Sal Nunziato said...

In the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is King. I'm sure all of you are tired of my bellyaching by now, but let's face it, this is what it has come to. Artists are GREAT because they don't suck.

steves said...

Unlike 99.8 percent of what passes for pop these days, I believe Adele has impressive chops and is probably the finest vocalist on the charts today. Personally, I really enjoyed "19," if for no reason other than she's one of the few artists whose cover of a Dylan song equals and may even surpass (depending on my mood) the original. That said, this song and what I've heard of "25" just leaves me cold. It's a bore, and I stand by my opinion after first hearing it: It's an okay chorus still in search of a verse. I doubt the chart sales are going to reflect the album's mediocrity, however. OTOH, it is somewhat gratifying that genuine talent can still rise above the fray of the poseurs.

Jeff Matthews said...

Pitchfork's review of 25 by Amanda Petrusich is worth reading in full but here's the best line:
"Even your most adorable aunt—the one who loves a Yankee Candle—will eventually drain her flute of sparkling wine, lean forward, and be like, "Dog, this shit is corny." "

Anonymous said...

Yes, Adele can sing, but, honestly, she does absolutely nothing for me. I think the problem is more the songs than the singer. Let her loose with some Gershwin or Kern or Berlin or any song by those classic writers and, by golly, you might have something. But she's singing so-so stuff that's over-produced with the vocals mixed way too far in the back. Mediocre muddy music. And such a fuss is being made over the new album! I feel like people think they're *supposed* to like her or that saying they like her will someone bestow a *cool* halo floating over their heads. I've only listened to '25' once and really have no plans to do so again. I suspect I'm not alone. People will buy it, but I doubt it'll get much repeat play and won't be given much of a thought once the next boring big deal comes along. I expect a Grammy sweep, however. That's when you know you've really lost your luster.

Anonymous said...

To support my own optimism: RS gives a 5 stars review.

Where am I been for the last two months?


Robin said...

Before I go light my Yankee Candle and drain my wine glass of its sparkling fluid (and keep myself from giving said candle to Pitchfork's Amanda Petrusich- who apparently has it in for candles and adorable aunts and only drinks whisky herself of course), before I go listen to more "Mom" rock- defined as music which loses its apparent power, vibrancy, importance and validness once it hits the ears of a Mom or is actually made by a "mom"- otherwise why would you use that phrase to describe music that doesn't move you, I'd like to say:

Adele is a wonderful talent, though I'm not sure if she's being guided properly, and what people are relating to is that her voice cuts through the gloss. She's real. There's no bull here. And she knows how to use her voice to great effect without too affectation.

If you haven't seen the video of Adele being an Adele impersonator and "auditioning" along with other impersonators but want to know why she's loved, watch it. Even if you still don't care for the music.

I expected to laugh because she has the saltiest sense of humor, but I did not expect to cry. I did a bit. It was moving. The others' response to her voice and to her generosity and graciousness to them was touching. And this is why (some not all) "moms" "adorable aunts" and "Yankee Candle buyers who drink sparkling fluid" adore her. I've not seen someone with her spirit in a while and I think for some of us we hear that spirit or glimmers of it when she sings. Many other singers that I admire hear it too. Sometimes the spirit overrides the music. Even if they meet in perfection, said artist won't be everyone's cup of tea anyway.

She's a smart singer with a good phrasing sense, with a fun, fairly dynamic personality and an above average voice that benefits in emotional "sound" from its grit and smokiness. She still has work to do but she can be better and I'm looking forward to that.

Do I wish Adele had a Jerry Wexler to mentor her? Heck even a Nelson Riddle to cushion her in the best arrangements? You bet I do. I'd even hope for a Peter Asher. For me, 25 is not as good as 21 or even 19, it has its moments and as another person said here- Adele's voice is not front and center enough- she doesn't need these "teams" and the material is not strong enough- if anyone needs and should record covers it's her, she can still write one song or two and grow her writing skills, she deserves better and I think she's musically intelligent enough to someday realize that and make the record she was born to.

In the meantime I do like this Chris Stapleton cover.

A walk in the woods said...

This has been a really entertaining bunch of responses. I'd heard "Dad Rock" before but somehow had never heard or thought of "Mom Rock"... good one.

Not much to add, because the clip now doesn't work (copyright, etc), and she's off my emotional radar. (How will she feel about just singing about all her past lovers 30 years from now?)

Back to Tame Impala for me now.

neal t said...

can't back Steve with his best Dylan cover comment. I think most pop renditions of Dylan's songs are almost all better than the originals. Great, maybe greatest songwriter since pop records have been made but many others are more listenable than him singing wise.

dogbreath said...

Been in transit for a few days but enjoyed the above discussions. Adele's not my cup of tea but she does what she does very successfully. I did like "Skyfall" - although that may have been because of Bond, James Bond. I was "forced" to watch her BBC TV special by being tied to my chair with my eyes held open รก la Malcolm McDowell in "A Clockwork Orange" but thankfully remained unconverted. Not knocking her, though, credit where credit's due: she's got some voice & she's cornered the market in her particular genre. No tall poppy syndrome here; good luck to her.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, here's a review I did of "25" for I liked it!

One thought this discussion prompts is that many of us are too quick to dismiss new albums. There are a lot of obvious reasons that we don't spend as much time with albums as we did when we were kids, reasons that have been discussed here frequently, and I'm as guilty of it as anyone. Give something one spin, if it doesn't immediately speak to you, move on--there's so much else out there and it's all so accessible. But if I think of all the records in the past that I would have dismissed after one listen if I hadn't been invested in wanting to like them, or at least "get" them.... for me, Elvis Costello's entire catalog comes to mind. "This Year's Model" grabbed me from the first note, but literally every album since then struck me as "meh" on first listen. Some still do, but thank God I stuck with "Armed Forces," "Get Happy," "Trust," blah blah blah. It took me decades to "get" Joni Mitchell. Tame Impala more recently--boring on first listen, now maybe my favorite contemporary band.

Julia Holter. Her new album got the usual glowing reviews in Mojo, Uncut, Pitchfork, etc. I listened once, thought another case of over-hype, but decided as a kind of intellectual exercise to give it a couple more listens and now love it. Not sure I'd give it five stars, but a beautiful, interesting record. I want to hear more from her.

Anyway, I would urge anyone who only listened to "25" once to give it at least a couple more spins. (Anachronistic verb.) Maybe it still sucks? At least the world is excited about a record release. Happy Thanksgiving!

Bruce H