FRESH from a clean sweep of awards at the Brits, Adele is counting down to her debut arena tour, beginning with sold-out dates in Belfast and Dublin. It has been a stellar rise for the Londoner, who signed her first music deal within days of leaving school and has been smashing records ever since.
When this writer met her in 2008, she was about to release her debut album. The LP was called 19 , Adele’s age when she recorded it. We convened in a hotel suite in central Dublin, where the teenager revealed herself to be by turns gobby, hilarious, and self-deprecating.
“I don’t really want to be a role model, to be honest,”she told me, shivering as she contemplated her impending stardom. “It’s a bit of a burden when that happens, because, the littlest thing you do wrong, you’ll have people going, ‘How could you? My daughter loves you.’
“I used to go out a lot, but since doing The Jonathan Ross Show I get recognised. I’ve had photographers coming after me. I don’t like having my picture taken and if I’m making a face, they’ll probably do it more. So I let them snap me in the hope they’ll leave me alone. I went to a cash point in Stockwell the other day and these girls noticed me and were like ‘Aaah!’ and I went, like ‘Aaah!’ back and ran the other way. It doesn’t faze me but it is a bit scary.”
Eight years later, she is one of the world’s most photographed performers — an era-defining superstar who has defied the conventional wisdom that it is impossible to sell records in significant numbers in this era of music streaming and file-sharing. Ahead of her Irish shows, here are 10 surprising facts about the Hello chart-topper.
Broke The Internet
The video to comeback single ‘Hello’ clocked up 27m YouTube views within 24 hours of its release in October, smashing the record previously held by Taylor Swift’s ‘Bad Blood’. Within five days, it had racked up 100m views (overtaking Miley Cyrus’s ‘Wrecking Ball’). ‘Hello’ also topped the iTunes charts in 102 countries.
A Record Breaker Several Times Over
Adele has swept all before her. She is the first female performer to have two singles and two albums in the UK top five at the same time and, with second LP 21, holds the record as the female artist with the longest consecutive and cumulative number one album (11 and 18 weeks, respectively).
Groomed For Success
She studied at the famous BRIT school for performing arts in London. It is also the alma-mater of Amy Winehouse (to whom Adele was compared early on), Katie Melua, and Imogen Heap. Adele’s classmates included Leona Lewis and Jessie J. But Adele was always regarded as the student most likely to break big. She was soon singing back-up for artists such as Jack Penate and, in 2007, performed on Later…With Jools Holland for the first time.
Didn’t Really Want To Be A Singer
The downside of fame and success seemed quite off-putting to Adele. As a teenager, her heart was, in fact, set on working in A&R. She was more interested in launching the careers of other artists than becoming a household name herself.
Adele’s music is steeped in heartache. The early hit ‘Daydreamer,’ for instance, is about a boyfriend who left her for a man. “It was about a friend of mine, who’s still one of my best friends and he was bi. I am so jealous of girls anyway that having to fight with boys as well, I just couldn’t do it. But I started falling in love with him around my 18th birthday. He convinced me it would be fine but that night he kissed one of my best boyfriends and I was like, ‘Get lost!’
Meanwhile, the chart-topping ‘Rolling In The Deep’ is a rumination on her first serious relationship and how it fell apart when she and her boyfriend moved in together and started to not get along. In the studio, producer Paul Epworth encouraged Adele to express the anger she felt towards her lover. The result was a storm-wracked power-ballad, trembling with sadness and rage.
Protective Of Her Privacy
When she had a son with now husband Simon Konecki in 2012, Adele tried to keep details out of the press — it would be a full 94 days before the world learned the newborn’s name was Angelo. “There was a period when I had my kid where I didn’t leave my house for a while,” she reflected. “And then I asked like a fellow musician I was, he sort of said ‘how are you feeling? You’re not becoming a recluse are you?’ And I was like ‘no, but maybe’.”
Not Short Of A Few Quid
Adele truly is rolling in the dough, with an estimated worth of $75m (€68m). One contributing factor is that she co-writes her songs, meaning she shares in the very lucrative publishing profits. But she lives relatively modestly in Brighton, having sold a 10-bedroom mansion in London because it felt too ostentatious.
Not Allowed Tweet Without Prior Permission
A self-confessed “drunk tweeter”, Adele is banned from sending unapproved social media missives by her management. One badly-worded message has the potential to ruin even the most high-flying career — and with 24m followers Adele understandably needs to mind how she goes.
“I mean I’m not a drinker any more, but when Twitter first came out I was, like, drunk tweeting, and nearly put my foot in it quite a few times,” she said last year. “So my management decided that you have to go through two people and then it has to be signed off by someone.”
getting ready... pic.twitter.com/MyNwveeKoj— Adele (@Adele) January 6, 2016
She Owes It All To Amy Winehouse
It was Winehouse’s tortured soul music that persuaded Adele to strap on a guitar and sing out her sorrows, she has said. “If it wasn’t for Amy and [Winehouse’s first album] Frank, 100% I wouldn’t have picked up a guitar, “ Adele told a UK magazine last year.
“I wouldn’t have written ‘Daydreamer’ or ‘Hometown’ and I wrote ‘Someone Like You’ on the guitar too.”
“Contrary to reports, me and Amy didn’t really know each other, we weren’t friends or anything like that. I went to BRIT school and she went for a little while. But a million percent if I hadn’t heard Frank this wouldn’t have happened. I adored her.”
She Also Owes It All To Sarah Palin
Adele was introduced to America with a performance on Saturday Night Live in 2008. The episode was among the highest rated in the history of the show, owing to an appearance by vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
“Sarah Palin made my career by coming on that show,” Adele reminisced “[She] asked to come and meet me, and my [gay friends] were in the room, saying, ‘If she comes in, I’m leaving.’ She cornered me and said hello. And I had a massive Obama badge on.”