Who’d have thought it? Nearly 50 years after The Beatles assaulted the charts, an artist has equalled their record of having 2 singles in the top five singles chart and 2 albums in the top five albums chart. Congratulations Adele! It seems that there is no stopping the girls these days who are cornering the solo singer market with apparent ease.
When I was a nipper in the 1960s, there was Sandie, Cilla and of course, Dusty. These three represented what to me were the musical equivalent of the stand-up comic in comedy circles in that they didn’t play an instrument, they didn’t write songs, they didn’t – horror of horrors – dance, nor did they fraternise with others in the form of a band (at least not after Dusty left the Springfields). They just stood there in front of an audience and sung – beautifully. There were others of course, like Lulu; but then she had her Luvvers and there was the likes of Petula Clark, Shirley Bassey and Helen Shapiro but somehow they belonged to a different era and didn’t count. No, Sandie, Cilla and Dusty were the ones.
Today, I am getting this feeling again. The industry seems to be overflowing with solo female singers. This situation has been building for at least the last ten years and we have seen the emergence of Gabrielle, Dido, Norah Jones, Katie Melua and Corrine Bailey Rae to name but a few. I’m excluding all talent show participants and ex-members of Girls Aloud here, but even so the tide of female singers is growing. But for me, the three that stand out, just for the moment are Duffy, Rumer and Adele.
All three satisfy the Stand-up Comic test even if these days an artist must, at the very least, contribute to their own material less they are labelled an incomplete musician. But they do stand in front of an audience and sing (no dancing!) – beautifully. And all have a bluesey poignancy that sets them apart.
A year or so back, Duffy ruled supreme but a period away from the bright lights and a less than well received second album have knocked her back to a point where she is hanging on by her fingernails to a top three position and I hear on the grapevine, may retire altogether from the music industry. Rumer, on the other hand is a rising star and an interesting performer with a voice that is part Karen Carpenter and part Dusty Springfield. Her debut single ‘Slow’ sounds, as one YouTube commentator put it, like Karen Carpenter doing a Bond Theme. And it does.
The youngest of the trio is Adele, now 21 (as her new album proclaims) and holder of the ‘I equalled The Beatles record’ award. Possessed of an extraordinarily emotive voice, she looks set for a glittering career despite not conforming to the conventional image of a present day pop star and makes the talent show wannabes, who do, look like so much chaff in the wind.