Adele Laurie Blue Adkins MBE (born 5 May 1988) is an English singer-songwriter. Adele was offered a recording contract from XL Recordings after a friend posted her demo on Myspace in 2006. The next year she received the Brit Awards “Critics’ Choice” award and won the BBC Sound of 2008. Her debut album, 19, was released in 2008 to commercial and critical success. It certified four times platinum in the UK, and double platinum in the US. Her career in the US was boosted by a Saturday Night Live appearance in late 2008. At the 51st Annual Grammy Awards, Adele received the awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Adele released her second studio album, 21, in early 2011. The album was well received critically and surpassed the success of her début, earning the singer six Grammy Awards in 2012 including Album of the Year, equalling the record for most Grammy Awards won by a female artist in one night. The album has also led to her receiving numerous other awards, including two Brit Awards and three American Music Awards. The album has been certified 16 times platinum in the UK; in the US the album has held the top position longer than any other album since 1985, and is certified Diamond. The album has sold over 28 million copies worldwide.
The success of 21 earned Adele numerous mentions in the Guinness World Records. She is the first artist to sell more than 3 million copies of an album in a year in the UK. With her two albums and the first two singles from 21, “Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You“, she became the first living artist to achieve the feat of having two top-five hits in both the UK Official Singles Chart and the Official Albums Chart simultaneously since The Beatles in 1964. With her third release from the album, “Set Fire to the Rain”, which became her third number one single in the US, Adele became the first solo artist in history to lead the Billboard 200 concurrently with three Billboard Hot 100 number-ones.
Adele is the first female in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 to have three singles in the top 10 at the same time as a lead artist, and the first female artist to have two albums in the top five of the Billboard 200 and two singles in the top five of the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously. 21 is the longest running number one album by a female solo artist on the UK and US Albums Chart. In 2011 and 2012, Billboard named Adele Artist of the Year. In 2012, Adele was listed at number five on VH1’s 100 Greatest Women in Music, and the American magazine Time named Adele one of the most influential people in the world. In 2013, she received an Academy Award as well as a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song for her song “Skyfall“, written for the twenty-third James Bond film of the same name.
Voice and music
Initially, critics suggested that her vocals were more developed and intriguing than her songwriting, a sentiment with which Adele agreed. Adele has stated: “I taught myself how to sing by listening to Ella Fitzgerald for acrobatics and scales, Etta James for passion and Roberta Flack for control.” Adele’s first album is of the soul genre, with lyrics describing heartbreak and relationship. Her success occurred simultaneously with several other British female soul singers, with the British press dubbing her a new Amy Winehouse. This was described as a third British Musical Invasion of the US. However, Adele called the comparisons between her and other female soul singers lazy, noting “we’re a gender, not a genre”. By the beginning of 2009, listeners and critics started to describe Adele as unique. AllMusic wrote that “Adele is simply too magical to compare her to anyone.” Following the release of her debut album 19, Kanye West and Beyoncé were among the artists vocal in their praise of her music. Beyoncé cited Adele as one of the influences for her fourth album, 4. Madonna expressed a desire to collaborate with Adele, commenting; “I think she’s brilliant, I love her”.
When asked about how one composes soul music, singer Patti LaBelle explained: “I believe that you first of all have to have soul. You could be white, black – it doesn’t matter – straight or gay. You can compose from your soul. And if it’s your soul – like Adele – she’s a beautiful big ole white woman, okay? Now, does she have that soul and she composes and she does it all.”
Celine Dion performed “Rolling in the Deep” at her show at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, after telling the crowd, “I love Adele so much. She’s amazing.” J. J. Burnel of The Stranglers is also a fan, stating; “She had me riveted… Of course she’s huge and normally that would turn me off because it’s too commercial. But I was seriously impressed”. Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Nirvana fame has repeatedly praised Adele in interviews. Former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash stated; “She’s great. She’s a shot in the arm for this industry. She writes her own music that’s not at all contrived. And she’s managed to sell loads of records which makes her a great example to the younger artists.”
Adele has stated that her biggest musical influences are Etta James and Beyoncé. She has also stated that growing up, she listened to the Spice Girls, The Cure, Dusty Springfield, and others. She also claims that her mother, who is very close with her, exposed her to the music of Aaliyah, Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige, and Alicia Keys, all of which inspired her as well. One of Adele’s earliest influences was British soul artist Gabrielle, who Adele has admired since the age of 5, even performing as the Hackney born star with an eye-patch in a school talent contest.
Adele has named Pink as one of her biggest musical influences and considers Pink’s performance at Brixton Academy in London as one of “the most defining moments” in her life, saying “It was the Missundaztood record, so I was about 13 or 14. I had never heard, being in the room, someone sing like that live. I remember sort of feeling like I was in a wind tunnel, her voice just hitting me. It was incredible.”