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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Having It All - The Story Behind "Rolling In The Deep"

I know that it's been a week since they aired, but, did any of you watch the 54th Annual Grammy Awards on February 12, 2012?

I did. And, to my surprise, I managed to sit back and watch the entire ceremony from start to finish. It was the first time I had been able to do so in at least a decade.

Apparently a lot of people felt the same way as I. It's been reported that the 54th Annual Grammy Awards were the highest rated since 1984!

Of course, I imagine a lot of people tuned into the ceremony out of curiosity over how the telecast would handle the news of Whitney Houston's death just the day before. And, of course if you had watched the Grammy Awards, there were lots of references to Whitney, from host LL Cool J's opening monologue to Jennifer Hudson's moving rendition of 'I Will Always Love You'.

But once you got into the real meat of the show, it turned out to be a really great group of performances by some very talented people.

Mind you, there were some blips to the evening, most of which are probably more my personal opinion, rather than from the general public. I've never really been a Chris Brown fan, and my opinion was always the same before and after the Rihanna incident. So, to see him perform did nothing for me (except shake my fist in disgust after reading various Facebook and Twitter comments from teenage girls saying that Chris Brown could beat them up anytime). I also wasn't all that impressed by the electronica-music extravaganza that aired towards the end...but mind you, I'm also in my thirties. Had it aired fifteen years earlier, I probably would have liked it better.

And, even after a week, I am still trying to figure out what the heck Nicki Minaj was doing up on that stage. It certainly wasn't much singing.

Fortunately, there were more highlights than lowlights. I loved the Beach Boys/Maroon 5/Foster The People medley of Beach Boys classics (even though some people commented on how 'dead' the Beach Boys looked). I mean, they're seventy! Not everyone can age like Dick Clark, you know! Still, as a lifelong Beach Boys fan, the fact that the surviving members came together to sing was awesome. I just wished that Dennis and Carl could have been up there with them.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were an awesome opening act, and it must have been tough for them to perform after the death of Clarence Clemmons last year, but they still put on a great show. I think Clarence would have been proud. Bruno Mars is an artist that I can take or leave, but he did a fantastic job during his performance, while Paul McCartney still showed us all that he still had it at nearly seventy years old.

I'm not the biggest country music fan out there, but I really appreciated Taylor Swift's performance. Especially since it was reported that the last time she sang at the Grammy Awards, she didn't do quite as well as expected. And, I don't care what anyone says. I think the Foo Fighters rocked the house, and were the only part of the electronica-music performance that I really appreciated.

There was no shortage of great performances and great talent at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, but there can only be one performance that I can deem as my favourite of the show.

And, if you click on THIS LINK, you can watch it!

Today's blog entry is all about Adele. The chanteuse from the UK that took the world by storm with her huge, powerful voice, soulful lyrics, and charming personality. And, she's not even twenty-five!

I think part of Adele's charm comes from the fact that her talent is so raw and natural. She doesn't use gimmicks like flashy clothes, auto-tune, and electronic beats because she doesn't need them. When you watched the clip of Adele's Grammy performance, what did you see? As far as special effects and gaudy costumes, there was nary to be found. It was just a woman with a big voice, maybe five or six background vocalists, and a band. That was all.

And, it turned out that it was all that Adele really needed. After Adele sang that song, she got a standing ovation that lasted well over a minute and a half. And just seeing Adele's expression during the whole ovation, you could tell that she was really moved, and perhaps a bit surprised at the attention. She displayed so much star power and class on that stage that you really couldn't help but love her. She didn't need to have lasers, or light shows, or perform an exorcism on stage. She was one hundred per cent real.

As if performing at the Grammy Awards wasn't enough of a high, it turned out that six was a very lucky number for Adele. She was nominated for six awards in such categories as 'Record of the Year', 'Album of the Year', and 'Song of the Year'. And, Adele won every award that she was nominated for. Well deserved, in my opinion.

The performance was made even more memorable when you consider that it was the first time Adele took to a live stage since undergoing a procedure which could have silenced her voice forever. But, we'll get to that a little later.

For now, let's have a look at the music video of the song that Adele sang at the Grammy Awards last week.

SONG: Rolling In The Deep
DATE RELEASED: November 29, 2010

In the United States, the song peaked at #1 for seven weeks in the spring of 2011, but the song hit the top of the charts in other places all over the world. Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, South Korea, and Switzerland had “Rolling In The Deep” at the top of their respective charts. Oddly enough, the song failed to hit the top spot in Adele's native UK, where it peaked at #2.

It was the first single off of Adele's second album, 21. The album was named after the age Adele was when she recorded it (Adele's first album had the title 19 for that same reason). It was a song that was written by Adele and Paul Epworth during 2010 after Adele experienced a very bad break-up. The song was written in a single afternoon the day after Adele had her heart broken, and according to an interview that Paul Epworth gave to the New York Times, he stated that the songwriting process for “Rolling In The Deep” was quite inspired. When Adele met with Epworth, he already had a few riffs and themes plotted out, which he felt would be perfect for Adele's voice. But, after a couple of hours, both Adele and Epworth were finding the process to be frustrating, as every riff that Epworth played resulted in Adele suffering from writer's block. She liked the riffs enough, but she just couldn't find one that really inspired her. But then Adele told Epworth that she had a riff of her own going through her head, and for whatever reason could not ignore it. When Epworth pressed on, Adele responded by singing the very first line of the song that would eventually form “Rolling In The Deep”.

Epworth was completely blown away by it, and immediately grabbed a guitar to figure out what the key was that Adele sang. Once that was found, Adele quickly managed to complete the lyrics in their entirety, and Epworth recorded the demo session as one long track. The process of writing the core of the song took an estimated fifteen minutes. The chorus and prechorus was added in later.

Now, here's a bit of trivia in regards to the finished product. Did you know that the vocal track that Paul Epworth recorded of Adele that day ended up being the version used for the final album cut? Epworth explained that when Adele sang the song, you could hear the heartache and anger in her voice. Her heart was truly broken, and her anger was so raw that Epworth felt that it couldn't be recreated.

I'm sure that almost everyone in the world has had their heart broken before, and know very well how much pain one feels when they realize that the relationship they put so much of themselves into is no longer there. It rips at your heart and soul, and it causes you to feel so much raw emotion. After a while, though, the pain does go away, and people move on with their lives, and become happier people as a result.  For the song to capture Adele's feelings and heartache the way that it did just made the song that much memorable.  Anyone who ever knew the pain of a break-up could identify with this song.

And, I think that was a huge part as to why it achieved the success it did.

When the song was released in late November 2010, I don't think anybody could have predicted just how huge the song would eventually become.  Rock magazines and online blogs praised the effort almost immediately, singling out Adele's powerful voice and the bluesy-feel of the track.  The song debuted in the UK at #2, and stayed at the Top Ten for ten whole weeks, the longest for any of Adele's singles.  

In the United States, the song debuted at #68 on the Billboard Charts on December 25, 2010.  Within five months, it hit the top position.  She managed to top both the Billboard Hot 100 Charts and the Billboard 200 Charts the same week, a feat last accomplished by Leona Lewis in 2008.  "Rolling In The Deep" achieved sales of 5x platinum, and as of January 1, 2012, the song has sold upwards of almost six million digital copies, making it the most successful single of 2011.

Adele had finally arrived in America, and she was coming full force.

Her following single, the 2011 single "Someone Like You" also did extremely well, selling three million copies by September 2011.  Her tour, "Adele Live" sold out in every stop of the American leg of the tour, and reviews for her live performances were just as glowing as they were for her album, '21', which had sold upwards of three million copies alone during 2011.  It seemed as there was no stopping Adele.

At least until the fall of 2011.  

In October of that year, Adele was forced to cancel planned tours because of a vocal cord hemorrhage.  She was forced to cancel concerts and issued a statement saying that she needed to rest her voice so that it didn't get any worse.  Later that month, in another statement, she revealled that she had absolutely no choice but to undergo surgery to repair the damage to her vocal cords.  If not, there was a chance that she could never sing again.  Adele underwent surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in November 2011.

Just three months later, Adele made her stage comeback at the Grammy Awards in February 2012, and well, as you saw up above, she stole the show.

Her performance was so brilliant that people were still talking about it days later.  I imagine that a lot of people now are asking themselves "Nicki WHO?"

And, I think that fact alone shows that Adele is a star.  No ifs, ands or buts about it.

And, you uninspiring and uncreative as the music industry is these days, I think we need more people like Adele to show us exactly what music is supposed to be.  It's supposed to make us feel emotion.  It's supposed to make us feel for the singer.  It's supposed to inspire people to do their best and be their best.

Adele is the poster child for what music is supposed to be.

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