Get Ready For The "Adele Is So Authentic, Mannnnn" Posturing To Take Over The Internet

Categories: Adele, Featured

adele.jpg
Black-and-white! No makeup! Authentic!
The success of Adele has been good for the music business, and even better for people looking for comfort in times of romantic strife. Surely the fact that she can wail in such a way that she turns a good song--"Rolling In The Deep"--into an indelible portrait of a woman in pain is key to her success? Nope, says a recent Independent piece declaring that "No festivals, tweeting-or selling out" have helped turn her into pop royalty. Which... no. Just no.

Obviously this story--and the article it's playing off, a cover profile of the singer from the British rock-authenticity bible Q--is trying to paint Adele as some sort of anti-Lady Gaga who eschews arena tours and Tweeting and putting her songs in commercials so that she can Focus On The Music.

But this is--how to put it kindly?--horseshit. Look, it's obvious that Adele's music is striking a chord that not many other artists have struck lately, and good for her--she's a great singer and a fantastic songwriter. But painting her as some sort of anti-selling-out princess is a snow job; there's a deliberate confusion of aesthetic (she sings without Autotune! she's taking her cues from the greats, and not from dancepop! she doesn't look like your typical pop star!) and the apparatus bringing that aesthetic into millions of iTunes libraries. We are talking, after all, about a woman who is hyped for being involved in her marketing yet who had Gwyneth Paltrow murder one of her songs on freaking Glee, a.k.a. the show where no song can be too electronically smoothed-out. And then she gave Lea Michele a pass to do the same to another one. Is Autotune OK if you only use it during the marketing of your music? Is putting a song in a commercial OK if it's for a movie that flopped almost as soon as it entered theaters? Is appearing on TV shows for a straight week and taping an episode of Unplugged OK because it's "about the music"?

I post this in a way as a warning; we're probably going to see stories setting Adele up as the Next Great Hope For Realness percolate on this side of the pond soon, since some critics over here never saw an authenticity fight they couldn't avoid. And yesterday's release of Born This Way provides a nice news peg to set up this lazy-ass argument (which will probably also be tied in with the equally lazy "women in music" angle at least five times)--funny, given Lady Gaga's constant assertions that she, too, doesn't lipsync, and writes her own material. It's a shame, because both these artists' music can stand on its own without ridiculous assertions about how "marketed" they are. And it's even more of a shame because the stubborn refusal of some people to believe that, yes, they exist in a demographic that's being catered to by companies and corporations, and that said tailoring processes might sometimes work in tandem with cultural products that are worthy of their attention, does little to actually elevate the work in question, and instead has the potential to shut people off from realizing that there's music (and TV, and film) out there that they're denying themselves for reasons that are kind of ridiculous.

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18 comments
juepucta
juepucta

Leave that crap for the Lefsetz reading crowd.

-G.

Cooper409
Cooper409

Isn't "pop" by definition supposed to be all things to all people?  The perfect blend of high and low aesthetics?   Authenticity? What?  And isn't art supposed to be artfully composed of, well, Artiface?  Let the hacks rage on with their contrived comparisons as they attempt to make a living.   How soon they forget Lisa Stansfield.

Nikkos350
Nikkos350

This is about critics arguing with critics- has nothing to do with the music and/or fans of music. Critics should find some sort of safe place to hash out their bullshit without inflicting it on the public,

kippy87
kippy87

I knew she would be set-up as the anti-Gaga after the host of the Brits praised  Adele's Someone Like You performance saying something like "you don't need pyrotechnics or dances, if you have a voice like that all you need is a piano". He was probably alluding to Rihanna, who performed earlier complete with African dancers and flaming props, but people translated that as a shot at Gaga.

Drew Shannon
Drew Shannon

It seems that a lot of marketing / messaging going on right now is about how there's no messaging going on, or is commenting on incorrect messaging and assumptions about the artist. (Adele, Odd Future, Lady Gaga, etc.)

So meta my head hurts.

SCO
SCO

also, race....

Jasons0660
Jasons0660

I like Adele because she has an amazing voice AND because she represents an alternative to the music industry's stereotypical and sexist portrayals of female singers.  I got sick of not only the talentless hacks masquerading as singers (Britney, Kesha, Rihanna etc) but also this sexist musical marketing ploy wherein all female singers are portrayed as being bisexual (for the benefit of sleazy straight guys, no doubt).

Lady Gaga partly feeds into this sexist portrayal because of what she wears and because she joined the female bisexuality bandwagon (which is largely fake, by the way) in order to get publicity.  With Adele, it's just her and her voice - and what an incredible creation it is. 

Cooper409
Cooper409

Hi Jason.  I feel your frustration.  But though the corporate music industry is on the ropes, it is still pretty powerful. If it didn't want you to see and hear an artist like Adele, it's likely that far, far, fewer people would see and hear her.  (There are lots of great but struggling indie singer/songwriters on iTunes and YouTube.)  To a certain degree Adele's official  launch in the US  represents a cynical understanding that the U.S. marketplace is ready to absorb/embrace a young artist who looks and performs  differently from some of the  popular skinny, pole-dancing stereotypes you seem weary of.

theprophetblog
theprophetblog

I think you're overreacting. Honestly, it's only the most limited mainstream pop fans who don't know anything outside of Beyonce and think that Lady GaGa is considered alternative and underground that would carry on about Adele being 'real' music and praising the non autotune etc (even though manufactured crap is most likely what fills most the music they listen to). 

Adele is just a cool laid back lady, and I don't think she was trying to act superior or anything like that here. She would've just been responding to very specific questions -- i doubt she goes out of her way to try act like a 'real' artist, especially since she's praised a bunch of pop stars before in previous interviews. 

You really can't compare Adele and Lady GaGa at all. Lady GaGa is the epitome of commercial, but she specifically goes out of her way to spout an endless rhetoric about how she's some underground queen and the only artist with any real talent etc etc, and a bunch of 12 year olds and teenage pop culture junkies believe it because they don't know any better. Is Adele commercial to? Of course, but I've seen her refer to herself as a pop artist before, praise other pop stars, and genuinely show a real down to earth attitude. These days somebody can't say anything without having it picked apart and scrutinized. 

I run a pop blog, and of course I roll my eyes when I see some of my most utterly mainstream readers pretentiously praising the "real" talent of Adele, but just because some people are lame douche bags, doesn't mean we need to take it out on Adele personally.

Taking shots at Adele because she promoted her album is completely unnecessary. And she didn't even say anything that bad in the interview either. If you're going to attack anybody, attack GaGa who is the real culprit of what you're trying to paint Adele as, or attack Beyonce for following up a completely unoriginal 'sampled' song with a completely unoriginal recycled Billboard performance. 

Leave Adele alone, at least until she does something that is genuinely worth this much scorn.

maura
maura

And people are going to compare Adele and Gaga, come on! They're two hugely selling singers in a time when very few people can make that claim.

maura
maura

The shots aren't at her -- as I said multiple times in the piece, I think she's quite talented. They're at commentators privileging one style of music over another and -- again, as I said above -- confusing a musical aesthetic with a marketing plan. That her quotes in the Q interview seem to have her buying into that ideal as well are unfortunate, but who knows how they were edited down by the agenda-seekers over there.

WillieNelson123
WillieNelson123

'Quite talented'??? Bah, you must have incredibly high standards. 

theprophetblog
theprophetblog

Oh OK, I'm sorry then, I misunderstood. And yes I agree with you on that then!

Just thought maybe it was against Adele personally but now I understand that it isn't.

By the way, am I the only one who thinks 19 was a better album than 21?

Popbijoux
Popbijoux

Tired of the cynical pseudo-critical blabber.  Go back to your Animal Collective correct music and let us swim in our puddle of tears!!! 'Nuff said!

maura
maura

I can't believe you called me an Animal Collective fan :(

hugesunglasses
hugesunglasses

Lest we forget the Lifetime original "Flirting With Forty" starring Heather Locklear and Adele's "Chasing Pavements" in it's ubiquitous (if you or have someone in your household who watches Lifetime) trailer. 

Piling on, I know.

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