As stockpiling fights break out in the supermarket aisles over the last boxes of Kleenex and Lambrusco, it’s clear that lockdown four is upon us. River Islands the breadth of the nation lay empty as whole swathes of the population shut themselves indoors, binging Viennetta and Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason. Outdoor exercise is now self-restricted to one stroll a day to gaze regretfully at your ex’s house, and within weeks millions will stand on their doorsteps every Thursday at 8pm to applaud the bravery of Martha Hancock.
Yes, Adele’s ‘divorce’ album ‘30’ is finally here, and with it widespread societal shutdown. You’ll already have noticed your timelines swamped with social distancing posts, accompanied by devastated illustrative ballads warning of the dangers of letting your spouse come within two metres of Cheryl from marketing. Perhaps you’ve even seen an increase in full-face masks on the tube, as divorcee tears are said to be able to travel 15 feet across unventilated spaces when propelled by a heartbroken sob.
Soon entire industries will be affected. Hinge will likely have to shutter, as half of the globe’s population swear off dating for good and join one gigantic WhatsApp support group titled He Wasn’t Worth It, Babes. Smaller cosmetics companies will fail due to an overnight global shortage, causing the cost of smudge-free mascara to skyrocket. Only Tory donors will really benefit, as Boris Johnson begins handing out multi-billion-pound deals for emergency supplies of Lindt Lindor truffles to his old schoolmates without tender.
The music industry, of course, will be the hardest hit. For the past few months artists have been scrambling to get their albums out before the great Adele lockdown, and the 500,000 albums she’s had printed up have exacerbated (though not caused) the global vinyl shortage, delaying other releases well into 2022. And frankly, releasing any non-Adele music this side of Christmas would be like lobbing a match into the Pacific and hoping for fireworks.
As a result the schedules, until January at least, look as bare as a Brexit vegetable aisle. It’s just going to be solid Adele right through to the new year – morale at John Lewis has reportedly never been lower and, at time of writing, LadBaby hasn’t even bothered to come up with a shit musical pun about the festive joy of guzzling pig anus in pastry this year. Even Yard Act, hoping to bag a hit by dropping their debut album in the traditional first-week-of-January lull, might find themselves swept aside with a flick of Tottenham’s most glittery frock.
Streaming services will grow fat on this bumper ‘30’ bonus, but with no support package for affected workers yet outlined by Adele, it’s looking to be a lean Christmas for many of us. With nothing else to write about, plug or promote, we may as well shut up shop until 2022 right now and seek other sources of income in the meantime. Opening businesses specialising in dry-cleaning wine-stained onesies is likely to be our most reliable option, or Deliverooing Kung Pao Chickens for one.
It’s something the music industry has become accustomed to through the slump years. For close to a decade, labels have increasingly depended on major cash cow artists to keep them afloat, dominating months of chart action at a time to the loss and detriment of more underground acts.
This time, though, there’s a chance to use Adele-ageddon to shift the paradigm. Y’see, ‘30’ arrives at the same time that The Isle Of Wight’s AI-pop duo Wet Leg are becoming the sort of bona fide UK indie breakthrough act that only comes along every couple of years or so.
I propose we all use the cultural blackout of the coming months, when all major artists will be bunkering down to wait out the chart equivalent of nuclear winter, to blanket bomb them across what’s left of pop culture. To post, share, stream and blabber all things Wet Leg in the hope that, by the time this almighty fourth wave of Adele finally subsides, a healthy and thriving subculture has formed around them, just waiting to be uncovered. It may be our one opening to create a new, less hackneyed normal.