June 29, 2012

On Adele: The Sweden of Pop

Adele is that kind of artist that everyone likes. Be you a music aficianado or not, you like her, let’s be honest. She is the safe bet, the Sweden of music. She’s like gay marriage. Everyone’s for it, so why even mention it? It’s a moot point that everyone supports it (except for the one important caveat that it’s not technically legal yet, but you get my drift, right?).

If you put some Adele on at a party (no matter what kind of party it is), no one will bust your balls. Everyone will say how much they “love Adele”, ironically, as if it’s the greatest revelation in the world, and everyone will agree. (Or, you can be like me, and put on Elton John’s "Madman Across The Water" at your 6th grade Halloween party, and everyone will sneer, and you can keep playing it anyway because it’s your effing party and you can play what you want.)  She is the epitome of a neutral party, which isn’t a bad thing.  It's simply that it's not all that interesting to make the proclamation that you are her biggest fan, because everyone is.

I bet you can name at least five of your Facebook friends who shared or posted about how much they “loved” Adele particularly the overplayed "Rolling in the Deep," in the past year. It was almost like seeing someone sharing their Words with Friends results except that it was even more insignificant, because it was not identifying any interesting or relevant information about themselves, because, news flash: EVERYONE IS POSTING THE SAME THING.

I’m all for fanship and music appreciation – don’t get me wrong. If there is one thing I’m passionate about, it’s music, and there is nothing wrong with sharing that excitement for an artist or song you love. So please don’t take this as bitchiness, even if it is. (But, come on, we all know I’m a bit of a sassy bitch.)  The same goes for hot-button issues that everyone believes in. Maybe it’s just me, but pretty much everyone I know is “for gay marriage,” voted for Obama, is a vegetarian, and, well, apparently everyone loves Adele – or is scared to admit otherwise.

It’s something about the bandwagon nature of the human race that I can only sometimes relate to. People like that thing or say they like that thing because someone else does, and therefore it immediately makes them become interested in that thing they may not have ever discovered otherwise. This is perfectly fine and acceptable and completely human, but when they advertise the discovery with complete utter disregard for its already widespread fanship as if it’s a unique characteristic about themselves, it drives me nuts.

On the flip side, I have this unfortunate trait wherein when mass groups of people like something – especially people who know nothing about what they’re participating in – I am immediately turned off by it. THIS IS NOT SOMETHING I’M PROUD OF, BY THE WAY, just something I can't same to shake about myself.

This is not true for dance pop – the Britneys, the Carly Rae Jepsens, and Selena Gomezes. I love that shit, because it’s fun and unpretentious and made for disposability. It’s music, but only kind of, you know? There are also other exceptions to this trait, generally when it comes to fashion, because fashion is everchanging and really isn’t something to be taken very seriously anyway.  It's just for fun.

So, last week (I promise there's a point to this) I was in a consignment shop in Portland, and as I’m sifting through the denim rack my instinctive trait for disliking what the masses like was challenged. I hear a song that instantly catches my ear, you know, the kind of groove that you’re instantly pulled into and want to hear over and over again. I only listen to 45 seconds of the song before I have to leave the store, and I had already fallen in love with it, with the beat, the cadence, the instrumentation, the lyrics. It was a song I had never heard before, but I knew that voice: It was Adele.

My initial reaction was annoyance for liking a song by that girl who’s overliked by everyone and therefore kind of overrated, and then my second reaction was embarrassment for attempting to make a conscious effort not to like a song by that artist who is liked by everyone and their mother. It is one thing to not like something that everyone covets because it is no longer special – that’s a trait that I am either fortunately/unfortunately (depending on how you look at it) always going to have – but quite another to make a conscious effort not to like something simply because everyone likes it. I remember being a closet Britney Spears fan for years until I realized, I effing like Britney Spears – who cares if she's the Princess of Pop? So, even though Adele is the Sweden of Pop -- the safe bet that everyone likes -- I’m not going to dislike her just to be a cultural rebel. I’ll blame it on that beautiful song, “He Won’t Go,” for changing my inner rebel to a bandwagon fan.

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