British singer Adele stands apart from pack
The singer is looking forward to working in America.
NEW YORK — It’s hard not to think of Adele, the newly minted British blue-eyed soul singer, without thinking of the others who’ve come before her: Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone, Lily Allen and Duffy. But if comparisons must be made, Adele’s album “19” pushes her ahead of her comrades. She was the first to win the Brit Award’s Critics Choice prize before she even released her debut.
The London native, by way of Brixton, is an unapologetic, full-figured 20-year-old. Her bluesy, bittersweet vocals are a perfect match for her brokenhearted anthems, which range from falling for a bisexual boy in “Daydreamer” to catching her cheating man in “Tired.” Adele’s definitely blazing her own trail, and fans are following her. She spoke with The Associated Press as “19” made its stateside debut.
Q. Do you feel that you’ve taken on America?
A. Not yet. It’s big, really big here. I’m looking forward to working here. In the U.K., I was very fortunate that everything came so quickly. I worked really hard for it. I worked for a year and a half, but then got the Brit Award, which catapulted me into people’s throats. So I never had to really to slug away. ... It’s cool coming over from the U.K. with the success, but you still have to properly work here. I’m looking forward to it. It’s inspiring that I have to earn something again.
Q. With the success of Amy Winehouse and Duffy, do you feel you’re riding the British wave or are you here on your own?
A. No, I think I’m riding the British wave. I don’t think I’m not here on my own at all. There are plenty of people who’ve come before and will come after. No, I feel like I’m riding the wave and I’m proud to be part of it. I think it’s inspiring.
Q. I want to ask you about British R&B singer Estelle and her reported comment ...
A. “Adele and Duffy ain’t soul.”
Q. How do you feel about that?
A. It’s like whatever, I really don’t care. I understand her point, she doesn’t listen to me and Duffy like I listen to Aretha and Mary. I don’t listen to her like I listen to Lauryn Hill, so it’s the same thing.
Q. Do you get a lot of criticism from blacks for your sound? You’ve gotten support from Kanye West and Beyonc .
A. I haven’t gotten any criticism. I don’t read press. If someone spots something great or nasty, they’re going to tell me. I thought the Kanye thing was ridiculous! It makes me go tingly (laughs). And obviously with the Estelle thing, it’s like, what am I going to take more from, Kanye West saying my (stuff) is dope or Estelle saying I’m not soul? I think I’ll go with Kanye. ... I think she has a point, in the fact there are these blue-eyed white girls who’re singing soul. ... There are a million other black women and other white girls who could do it better than me and Duffy, but the point is, we’re doing it at the moment. So support it, love it, (rather) than be bitter.
Q. When it comes to your music, you often make it clear you’re an artist first. Do you find in America we get caught up in celebrity instead of artistry?
A. A little bit. In London, I’ve been known there since November, December so people are kind of over it and they’ve stopped harassing me. I think it’s quite revolting that people are on the front cover of celebrity magazines — it’s inevitable — and they’re bigger than proper artists or proper actors or proper photographers.
Q. You’ve said you’ve been made more aware of your curvy figure in the United States than London. Why do you think that is?
A. I think it’s because of the Hollywood thing here. And I don’t know if it’s just because in the U.K. and everywhere, there are people who are overweight, underweight and people really healthy, but here it’s like you have to have a fake tan and amazing hair and white teeth and that amazing taste to be famous. I think that’s a little ridiculous. And (this image going) around the world comes from here, from Hollywood. I don’t want to be like that.