Adele
19


1.5
very poor

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
June 11th, 2008 | 25 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Music for fat, pubescent girls to get dumped to.

Think the British sense of humour is more sophisticated and refined than its American equivalent? Think again. Earlier this year, Adele's "Chasing Pavements" became a national sensation in both pubs and playgrounds, as boy and man alike tried to work out what the hell this girl was singing on this song that had suddenly started appearing everywhere. Popular suggestions included both the silly ('Should I hiccup?') and the outright brilliant ('Would it be a waste/If I just came on your face?'). Even people who were seriously trying to figure it out thought the song was either called "Chasing Payment" or "Chasing Paper". It was a fleeting mondegreen classic.

The reason this review starts with that story is that it's the most interesting thing about Adele. This in spite of the amount of money, hype, and transparent PR that has followed her since day one - the girl won a Brit award before she'd even released anything substantial, for Christ's sake. They invented a whole new award just so that could happen, too. Then they paid off all the radio stations to play "Chasing Pavements" even more often than they were playing "Valerie" and "Rehab", hoping that they could catch some of that Winehouse lightning before people got tired of it.

And the PR! Something about it makes me want to praise it as cynical genius, an attempt to fuse the appeal of the three most talked-about female artists in the British media right now. She was alternatively painted as a straight-talking, sassy London girl (Lily Allen), a husky-voiced appreciator of classic soul (Amy Winehouse), and really fat (Beth Ditto). Oh, and they made sure to tell everybody that 19 was both named after her weight in stones (thus making her an icon for fat women who are proud to be fat, like Ditto), and was inspired by a break-up, just the same way that Back in Black was. If you're fourteen and female, you could be forgiven for being taken in by all this rhetoric. Take her interviews and her press at face value and Adele seems strong, smart, talented, and a little bit dangerous. She doesn't care what she looks like or what anybody thinks, and doesn't think you should either; but, should you get dumped, she's there to sing a pretty song in your ear, too. It's more than a little reminiscent of the Spice Girls. If Adele had tunes as good as they did.

Both as a singer and as a songwriter, Adele is incredibly naive - so much so that, at times, you feel slightly sorry for her. She should never have been thrust into the limelight as early as this, because with a little maturity, experience, and training her voice could be a potentially devastating emotional weapon. She just has no idea how to use it yet. Adele doesn't sound like any of her contemporaries as much as she sounds like a blonde Texan in the American Idol auditions trying to sing a song by a Dusty Springfield or a Roberta Flack in the style of Mariah Carey or Christina Aguilera. Her vocal showiness, her forced huskiness, her badly judged breath control; they all detract from her songs. Nowhere is this more obvious than on her hopelessly incompetent reading of Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love".

Not that her own songs suffer too much; largely, they're mediocre in the first place. "Cold Shoulder" is the best thing here, and that's entirely because of Mark Ronson's golden touch rather than Adele. "Chasing Pavements" could have been good, but the over-the-top arrangement and Adele's unabashed vocal ground it in slightly embarrassing territory, and Adele's insistence on spending a verse repeating the chorus lyrics just smacks of laziness. The arrangements, in fact, offer another problem throughout, and it's a problem that contrasts entirely with "Chasing Pavements" - they're too basic. Adele's voice isn't yet strong enough to carry a song on its own, so why so many of the songs here have so little in the way of instrumentation is baffling. The bigger arrangements are an improvement, but they lack the imagination that characterizes the finest musical moments of Winehouse and Duffy. The melodies are largely indistinct, almost certainly the result of not putting much effort into writing them. The lyrics are the cherry on top - quite simply, she's a poor writer. "Melt My Heart to Stone" follows up its poorly conceived title with the lines 'Right under my feet/There's air made of bricks'. Okay, you get what she's trying to do - write enigmatic lines that generate interest by directly subverting expectation - but it just comes across as pointless nonsense. Elsewhere she gives in to banality far too often - is 'I like to sit on chairs and you prefer the floor' meant to be a homely, cozy picture of a loving relationship? Because it's lines like that that can put your listener into a coma.

Compared to both Back in Black and Rockferry, 19 comes off so badly you actually begin to pity Adele. It can't even stack up to Gabriella Cilmi. Estelle? Leona Lewis? Yikes. Avoid.



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21

Comments:Add a Comment 
ninjuice
June 11th 2008


6760 Comments


so much so that, at times, she feel slightly sorry for her.
I'm guessing this is a typo.
The summary is perhaps the best one I've seen this year.This Message Edited On 06.11.08

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2008


15743 Comments


Twas a good summary, nick.

so glad i passed on this one

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

Neoteric
June 12th 2008


3243 Comments


She was alternatively painted as a straight-talking, sassy London girl (Lily Allen), a husky-voiced appreciator of classic soul (Amy Winehouse), and really fat (Beth Ditto).
lol

astrel
June 12th 2008


2614 Comments


sounds like something hipsters would like.

Digging: Jessie Ware - Tough Love

rasputin
June 13th 2008


14550 Comments


review rules and summary rules

Phil
June 13th 2008


1473 Comments


You have Gabrielle Cilimi in the UK? I thought she was only really fairly big in Aus. Nice review by the way.

AtavanHalen
June 13th 2008


17927 Comments


Ouch.
Nick, do you just hate fat chicks as a rule?

natey
June 13th 2008


4170 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Ugh, I really don't like the single.

FenderUsa
June 13th 2008


582 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

LMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! summary is fucking amazing, brilliant review

Iai
Emeritus
June 13th 2008


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Ouch.

Nick, do you just hate fat chicks as a rule?

Only one that make crappy music, and then use their fatness as some kind of marketing tool to cover it up.

I mean, Aretha Franklin needed a lot of room to eat her chicken wings, but it didn't matter because she was a beautiful person.

You have Gabrielle Cilimi in the UK? I thought she was only really fairly big in Aus. Nice review by the way.

You wouldn't exactly call her big here yet, but they're advertising the album a lot on TV and radio. "Sweet About Me" is a really good song.This Message Edited On 06.13.08

AtavanHalen
June 14th 2008


17927 Comments


I downloaded Gabriela Cilmi's album, thinking of reviewing it.
Anyway, what I've heard of this record really isn't that bad.

KILL
July 4th 2009


71957 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

such an awesome review

Digging: Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out

Rationalist
December 21st 2009


880 Comments


I like this album. Cry about it.

Polymath
March 10th 2011


3836 Comments


ahh this review is brilliant, summary made me lol

james420
March 10th 2011


200 Comments


fat

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2011


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The much hyped debut LP from young English soul singer Adele is clearly designed to showcase her sumptuous voice. Titled after her age at the time of its recording, '19' is an inconsistent affair with Adele struggling to hold interest on many of the sparse ballads included here. She fares better when tracks break out into a more up-tempo pace with greater musical backing. Even on the many misses however, you can tell that Adele is clearly a promising talent who is likely to deliver something special in the future. Recommended Tracks: Chasing Pavements, Tired & Cold Shoulder.

Tyrael
May 12th 2011


20900 Comments


Lol Davey...

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2011


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Why you LOL'ing me. And no, I'm not a fat pubescent girl.

Tyrael
May 12th 2011


20900 Comments


Because I have never had the chance to lol at you before. Also, fat pubescent girls cant marry so you're obviously not one of them.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2011


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hehe x2.

And her new album rules.



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