Adele is back back back! ’25’, her follow-up album to the smash hits that were ’19’ and ’21’, is due for release next week and she’s been on the campaign trail to promote it. And it seems super-fame and mega-millions haven’t changed her a bit. In the cover issue of Rolling Stone, writer Brian Hiatt finds her on fine form in her hometown of Tottenham, lambasting Damon Albarn, bigging up feminism and paying tribute to Madonna. There were even hints about how the album will sound. Here are the best bits…
She’s a bit obsessed with age right now
27 (Adele’s age – don’t be misled by the album title) is obviously ancient and that universal truth has inspired Adele’s ’25’, rather than the heartbreak that informed its predecessor. She says lead single ‘Hello’ “is as much about regrouping with myself, reconnecting with myself” and admits that the song’s lyric “hello from the other side” sounds a bit morbid, like I’m dead” but explains that “it’s actually just from the other side of becoming an adult, making it out alive from your late teens, early twenties.”
Motherhood plays a part in this too: “I’m never going to be on my own again. I’m a mom and I’m in a very serious relationship, so it’s never going to be just me again. I don’t regret any of it. Like, those aren’t the things that I regret. But I feel like I didn’t have very long to myself. I was my mom’s kid, and now I’m a mom. I had, like, a five-year window of just being me.”
She really is like us
Because she, too, is impatiently awaiting the new Frank Ocean album: “I’m just fucking waiting for Frank fucking Ocean to come out with his album. It’s taking so fucking long. That sounds so stupid, coming from me, doesn’t it?”
The woman is no careerist
“My career’s not my life,” she told Hiatt. “It’s my hobby.” A reminder: Adele’s last album sold 31 million copies worldwide.
Though you should underestimate her at her peril
Adele, who explains that she’s a feminist and believes “everyone should be treated the same, including race and sexuality,” recalls being treated as inferior by male music biz types. Her response: “It’s like, ‘Well, I’m the fucking artist. So I fucking know everything, actually! Like, don’t fucking talk down to me!'”
She’s kind of fearful of fame
“People think I hate being famous,” Adele said in the interview. “And I don’t. I’m really frightened of it. I think it’s really toxic, and I think it’s really easy to be dragged into it.”
Like Amy Winehouse, she attended the Brit School in London – which has produced the Katy B and Jamie Woon, among many other successful act – and although they met only a handful of times, she was devastated by the ‘Black To Black’ singer’s fate: “Watching Amy deteriorate is one of the reasons I’m a bit frightened. We were all very entertained by her being a mess. I was fucking sad about it, but if someone showed me a picture of her looking bad, I’d look at it. If we hadn’t looked, then they’d have stopped taking her picture. That level of attention is really frightening, especially if you don’t live around all that showbiz stuff.”
We’ve got her young son, Angelo, to thank for her comeback
Apparently Adele was planning to make like most successful British stars and up sticks to American – but then life happened: “All my plans went through… But I think actually the pregnancy was perfect timing in the end… When I had him, it made everything all right, and I trusted everything because the world had given me this miracle, you know, so I became a bit of a hippie, an Earth mother.”
’25’ sounds like it’s going to be quite eclectic
There’s a bit of Madonna’s seventh album, 1998’s ‘Ray Of Light’: “That’s the record Madonna wrote after having her first child, and for me, it’s her best. I was so all over the place after having a child, just because my chemicals were just hitting the fucking roof and shit like that… I was just drifting away, and I couldn’t find that many examples for myself where I was like, ‘Fuck, they truly came back to themselves,’ until someone was like, ‘Well, obviously, Ray of Light.'”
And it is – within reason – more experimental than ’21’ (though probably don’t expect a massive dubstep drop or anything). For example, there’s a Danger Mouse collaboration called ‘River Lea’ that multiplies her own voice to make it sound like keyboard. Producer Paul Epworth, who worked on ‘I Miss You’ and ‘Sweetest Devotion’, told Hiatt: “This time, it was about trying to come up with the weirdest sounds that I could get away with.”
Amidst this, though, there’s also a big old blustery ballad with ‘Uptown Funk’ singer Bruno Mars, who – to be fair – isn’t really that well-known for big old blustery ballads. This one’s an old-fashioned dramatic key change (they kind that would lifted Westlife from their stools) and features Adele’s most showoff-y” (her words) vocals. Something tell us we’ll be hearing this one ‘The X Factor’ in the future.
Though not everyone’s been loving it
Producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin gently dismissed early demos. Upon hearing them, he said: “I don’t believe you.” Speaking to Hiatt later, Rubin explained: “Adele was anxious to be finished with the new album and move forward with life I stressed the most important thing was to be true to her voice, even if that took longer and was more work… In the new material I heard, it was clear she wasn’t the primary writer — many of the songs sounded like they might be on a different pop artist’s album. It’s not just her voice singing any song that makes it special.”
But Adele took that in her stride: “I actually took it really well… When he said it, I couldn’t work out if I was, like, devastated, going to cry my eyes out. And then I just said, ‘I don’t really believe myself right now, so I’m not surprised you fucking said that… So I went back to the drawing board, really.”
While Rubin was a sympathetic ear, Damon Albarn comes out of the interview sounding like a bit of a bellend. A few weeks ago, he told the press that the album was “middle of the road” and its creator “insecure”.
Adele wasted no time hitting back: “It ended up being one of those ‘don’t meet your idol’ moments. And the saddest thing was that I was such a big Blur fan growing up. But it was sad, and I regret hanging out with him… He said I was insecure, when I’m the least-insecure person I know. I was asking his opinion about my fears, about coming back with a child involved — because he has a child — and then he calls me insecure?”
So, all in all, the interview was a bit of a banger. And that’s without the revelations that, no, Adele doesn’t carry a flip phone like she does in the video for ‘Hello’ and, yes, there is a YouTube supercut of her cackling.
Make sure you check out the full interview , possibly using ‘The Adele Cackle’ supercut as your soundtrack.