Friday, 11 March 2011

Adele, Rumer & Duffy

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.


Perplexio said...

Would you say that Katy Perry or Natasha Bedingfield belong on the list along with Adele?

Admittedly I'm not really crazy about the style of music either Perry or Bedingfield choose to sing but DAMN their voices are forces unto themselves.

Perry's Firework for example-- a less adept singer and the song would be ignorable, dime-a-dozen drivel. Perry's voice kicks that song into the stratosphere.

And Bedingfield, her songs are catchy and fun but it's her voice that really pulls it all together for me.

I'll have to give Adele a listen sometime.

music obsessive said...

Perplexio - Frankly, I've never got on with Natasha Bedingfield, so she wouldn't be on any list of mine. Katy Perry is a different kettle of fish and I like her style. BUT, she doesn't qualify here as she is firmly in the 'pop theatre' camp which encompasses dance troupes and all manner of distractions.

The reason I picked Adele, Rumer and Duffy was that they have no trappings. They are 'naked' before an audience with only their voice to sell. Just like Dusty.

Zee said...

I've always be moaning about how the music industry is in ruins, but it's artists like Adele that give me hope. Her voice is incredibly powerful and instantly recognisable. And well, I'd never heard of Rumer before but I'm very glad you've told me about her now. She has a lovely voice, and her song "slow" that you put up simply gave me goosebumps

music obsessive said...

Zee - there's always something to seek out even in the bleakest times. Glad you like Rumer and I see that Adele has now equalled Madonna's album run at the top of the charts. About time too!

Sam said...

I completely agree with you people! I love to see artists like this getting a bit of recognition... all three are just so real and it's such a nice change from hearing people hiding behind layers of autotune. Everyone I know seems to be having a huge Adele phase at the moment (myself included!) Also, for a singer-songwritery type, she has got to be pretty soulful and epic to get this recognised so I have a huge amount of respect for her!

music obsessive said...

Hi Sam - thanks for stopping by. Autotune is becoming a way of life so it's so good to see people perform live and display a a real talent.