It’s been two years since Adele made an instant splash on the scene with her debut album, 19, walking away with a Grammy for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Performance for her heartbreaking Billboard hit, “Chasing Pavements.” The English singer-songwriter has finally put the finishing touches on her follow-up, 21, which exudes a maturity in both its title and its content. While 19 was inspired by a relationship, Adele told us in a recent chit-chat at Idolator HQ that 21 was inspired by “the next boy”: “He tried to f*** me over, so I f***ed him over first!”
It’s that combination of humor and pathos that makes us, and the rest of her legions of fans, connect with Adele and her music. Below, read our exclusive sit-down with the singer, who freely discussed working with Ryan Tedder, why she decided to name another album after her age, and how she’s seriously considering a move to Nashville.
The song we were most excited to hear for the first time was Adele’s collaboration with Ryan Tedder (whom she calls a “hit factory). The bluesy, tongue-in-cheek track, “Rumour Has It”, is like nothing we’ve heard from Tedder before. She says the track is “not to be taken seriously… I was f***ing hungover as well, the last thing I wanted to do was try and be emotional.”
Adele made a conscious effort to speed up her songs this time around. “I played a lot of festivals for the first record,” she said, “And it’s so slow, I don’t want to go to a festival and listen to ballads. I would not watch myself. I get itchy legs if I’m standing at a slow show.”
Still, 21 has a few gorgeous ballads in the mix: “Someone Like You”, which she recently performed on Jools Holland, is a tender, grown-up tune co-written by Dan Wilson. The song is made up by piano and Adele’s stunning vocals, although at first her label, Columbia/XL, wanted a bigger production to flesh it out.
Adele stuck to her guns to keep it as simple as possible, and we think it works brilliantly — we can practically hear this song fitting nicely on a movie soundtrack, but Adele isn’t in a rush: “I’m holding out for an amazing indie movie. It’s a bit too personal, that song, I’m not giving it to f***ing Hollywood.”
When we mention if she’s ever been approached to have a song appear in a Twilight film, she responds, with a sneer: “I don’t wanna be on Twilight.” So chances are you won’t see an Adele number on the soundtrack to Breaking Dawn.
Also on the album is a Bossa Nova cover of The Cure’s “Love Song,” with an arrangement originally intended for Barbra Streisand! It’s a lovely, soothing tune, though Adele’s first choice for an 80s cover was INXS’ “Never Tear Us Apart”. She finally scrapped the recording because, she explains, “No one ever covers it because no one can sing it as well as Michael Hutchence. So I abandoned that idea.”
Though she has an adoration for 80s rock bands and the dirty rockabilly of Wanda Jackson (who she listened to quite a lot while writing her lead single “Rolling In The Deep“), Adele says country is her favorite genre right now. “When I was in Malibu, Lady Antebellum was massive. Need You Now had just come out. I really, really fell in love with them,” she says, adding that Rascall Flatts is another one of her new favorites.
Adele even has a slow-building, country-inspired ballad on 21, which she calls her “ode to a new discovery for me”, describing it as “very American” because “it has a key change at the end.”
She loves country so much, in fact, the singer admitted she may want to relocate to Nashville for a spell. “I might take a few years out and see what it’s like, for my third album or something.”
Adele’s debut album, 19, was recorded when she was 19, and the title 21 follows the same theme of capturing a certain significant set of experiences in your life. “I was gonna [title the album] Rolling In The Deep after the first single, but it’s bit of a mouthful and it doesn’t really make sense, it’s kind of like another “Chasing Pavements”, everybody is going to be asking about it. I just couldn’t be bothered.”
“The age thing is universal,” she adds. “21 is a really important age everywhere, and I really do feel like I’ve changed since turning 21 and everything that’s happened. Its all quite fitting in the end, really.”
So what changes are those? “I don’t have a social life anymore,” she tells us. “I used to love going out, but now I don’t even know what to talk about to people anymore, I’m just completely out of the loop.”
But not all the changes have just been to her social calendar. “I look at things really differently now, I’m really patient with myself and other people which I never really was,” she says. “I’m independent and I never had any dreams or goals before, and oddly, now I do. Even though everything I’ve achieved is already a dream.”
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Visit Adele’s website, and circle February 22 on your calandar as a reminder to pick up her album 21, which drops in stores that day.