Here's how Adele managed to make her most recent single 'Hello' such a stunning success
Published 06/11/2015 | 08:25
No matter your age, gender, race or religion, you’re no doubt aware of Adele’s recent musical comeback. The powerhouse singer’s first album in four years, 25, is scheduled to drop later this month, and its lead single Hello has broken all sorts of viewing and download records since its release in October.
The artsy video was parsed from the second it landed for featuring — gasp — an obsolete flip-phone and some stunning close-ups of the elusive star.
Suddenly Adele-mania broke loose; perhaps mostly because it’s, quite frankly, a stunner of a song. Or perhaps we just missed the level of quality Adele brings to the charts — good old-fashioned warbling, great songwriting and a searing vulnerability in the vocal.
More likely though, is that this is all the result of one of the most subtle and clever promotional strategies we’ve seen in a long time.
From the 10-second Hello teaser that aired during The X Factor to Adele herself re-emerging in interviews with serious pop-culture magazines iD and Rolling Stone, this is a comeback very well played.
She shuns the spotlight when she hasn’t got something to promote and looks more like the woman on the street than your average pop star, but don’t for one second think that there’s any less of a PR machine behind the release of 25 than say, Rihanna’s upcoming LP. It’s just that Adele does it better.
First of all, people adore her. She seems to be just like one of us, a nice, regular girl plucked from obscurity to become a singing superstar thanks to her soulful voice and ability to write a stonking pop tune. She’s had her heart smashed in to pieces, and has the ability to translate that pain in to relatable music, easy to consume and digest, and that makes us feel something — rare, in these desensitised days.
She’s not overexposed; if anything, she comes across as something of a hermit, uninterested in the glam life of Hollywood and all of its trappings.
However, while her appeal is fundamentally based on her talent, the opposite of say, Kim Kardashian, it doesn’t mean she’s not incredibly careful about her image.
For Kim, it’s all about being in our faces. For Adele, it’s about very carefully staying out of them, most of the time. And just because she’s not sample size, doesn’t mean she’s not beautiful — her striking face is perfect for the cover of magazines, and women covet her make-up just as much as they do Kim’s.
Indeed, Adele herself thinks it’s that Everywoman quality that endears her to people, and the fact that she’s not highly sexualised like every other woman in the celebrity landscape.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, she said: “I’d rather not be the person that everyone gets pitted against. If they do decide to get their body out, I would rather not be that person because that’s just pitting a woman against another woman, and I don’t hold any more moral high ground than anyone else… but sometimes I’m curious to know if I would have been as successful if I wasn’t plus-size. I think I remind everyone of themselves. Not saying everyone is my size, but it’s relatable because I’m not perfect, and I think a lot of people are portrayed as perfect, unreachable and untouchable.”
Perhaps she has a point. After all, there are lots of great singers out there — what is it about this one that resonates so deeply? Is it that elusive x-factor, the very thing that’s sought every week on TV and never found? Or is it also that we see something of ourselves in her?
It’s difficult to say. I know when I hear that voice coming through the radio, it gives me chills — the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and it doesn’t matter what she looks like or who she’s sleeping with; I want to hear more.
However, in terms of stardom and longevity, Adele’s image does lend itself to being taken more seriously than say, Taylor Swift or Katy Perry.
Both women also write solid pop tunes, and have metamorphosised along with their success.
But there’s something comforting about Adele’s refusal to reinvent herself, to comply; and something very charming about her desire to be largely left alone. Sure, her people know how to work that in to an effective publicity campaign. But without the raw material, the perfect comeback wouldn’t be so perfect.