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Tag Archives | Adele

wherein my son starts to ponder the lyrics

This happened two days ago, but in honor of the Grammys, it seems appropriate to post it now. As far as Liam and I are concerned, Adele should win all the prizes. I would also like someone to explain to me why Chris Brown can be all “Mr. Comeback” on the Grammys despite his habit of beating women, but Ellen Degeneres is a “bad role model” and shouldn’t be a spokesperson for JCPenneys.

Liam and I are driving home from soccer. I spend most of my life here driving to or from soccer, it seems, and yes, there is more than a smidge of irony in the fact that I had to move to the Middle East to become a true soccer mom.

So we’re driving and Liam asks me to play his new favorite Adele song, “Set Fire to the Rain.” He loves the entire album but this track is his new favorite.

“What do you think that means,” I ask, “set fire to the rain?”  I’m clutching at conversational straws with him a bit these days because contrary to my hopes from last week, he’s not swerved from his insistence that by switching schools we’ve destroyed any possible shot he has at happiness.

So maybe he’ll talk to me about Adele and we can avoid the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments has become his new way of ending the weekend.

“It’s like a paradox,” he says through a mouthful of cashews.

“Yes, but why? I mean, what’s she trying to say?”

Chewing sounds from the back seat. I persist. I wax nostalgic. “When I was your age, we had record albums. And they’d have the lyrics on them, maybe on the back, maybe on the inside sleeve, and we would read them and try to figure out what the songs meant.”

From the back seat: “What’s an album?”

I almost plow into the car ahead of me. “You’ve never seen a record?”

Long silence. “Um…in the movies, I think. Maybe.”

I explain the concept of “record album” to my child, although I leave out the part about how albums were incredibly useful when it came time to make those wacky cigarettes that mommy and her friends liked to share during intense debates about the meaning of this or that lyric on a Police album. (Hey. It was the early 80s. You want me maybe to be listening to Rush?)

We listen to Adele singing about her hands being strong but her knees being weak and Liam says “wait! pause it! I think I get it. She’s saying that she really loves him but he’s not very nice to her.” I push play and the song goes on to tell us about betrayal and anger and good-love-gone-bad. In the rearview mirror, I see Liam, listening intently.

“I see what she’s saying now — ” then there is what can only be described as a professorial pause. “It’s as Lady Gaga would say. It’s a bad romance.  Yep, that’s it. It’s Lady Gaga’s bad romance.”

My son has discovered intertextuality.  Maybe I should get him a record player.

me, Adele, and Lady Gaga are linking up with yeah write this week…I’ll bet there are some grammy-worthy posts up over there, so you should just sing along, click along, and come read!

Continue Reading · on February 12, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, Children, Kids, pop culture

Big Voice, Good. Big Body? Not So Much

I can’t stop listening to Adele’s new album, “21.” It’s so good I almost forgive her for being so ridiculously talented when she’s practically not even out of diapers.

I listen to it when I’m cleaning the house and sing along, belting out the lyrics with terrific emotion (and absolutely no sense of tune. Pretty much I couldn’t carry a tune if you put it in a basket for me. One of my great life sorrows. Unfortunately for those around me–including my musically gifted husband–I love to sing).

The last few times I went to the gym, I got so caught up in the Muscle Shoals rhythms of Adele’s album that I actually got on a treadmill and began to run.  That’s how good she is: I hate to run but it was either pretend to sprint on the treadmill or start boogieing around the cardio room at the gym–and that would be even more embarrassing than seeing myself huff and puff on the treadhell.

The album has hit the pop charts; the first singles off the album are doing really well – and a few weeks ago, Adele got the ultimate pop music imprimatur: her song “Turning Tables” was covered on Glee.  One of the reasons I like Glee has to do with its general message of inclusiveness–gays, straights, fats, thins, browns, pinks–everyone comes together in Glee-land.  One of the ongoing plot lines this season, in fact, has had bad-boy sexy-pants Puckerman fall hard for the plus-sized, glasses-wearing Lauren, who is about the same size as Adele, actually. And therein we have the problem.

Adele’s a “big girl,” as they say. Not Mama Cass huge but not Katy Perry va-va-voom, either. If you look around the web, you can see image after image of Adele’s amazingly expressive face–huge eyes, voluptuous mouth, tumultuous hair–but to find a full-body shot, you have to dig a little bit. Did some publicist somewhere, some record-making maven, decide that Adele’s body needs to be kept under wraps? Literally–in photo after photo, she’s swathed in blankets, cloaks, capes. Maybe full-body shots were deemed off-limits so as to prevent the kind of comparison that happened in 2009, when Annie Leibovitz photoshopped Adele so profoundly that the singer looks like one of Jillian Michaels’ fembots.

Everywhere, it’s head shot after head shot after head shot. Even in the video for the album’s first single, “Rolling in the Deep,” we don’t see Adele’s body. She sits in chair –perhaps trapped by the weight of the truly hideous bouffant hairdo someone made her wear–for the entire video. She doesn’t move, except for the occasional hand gesture:

Are we yet again telling women that the body–the package–matters more than what’s inside the body?

Maybe not. I’m sure it was just a coincidence that when Adele’s song was covered in Glee, it was sung by Miss Skinny Britches herself, Gwyneth Paltrow. In an one-shouldered black dress on a stage with full orchestra, with the camera giving us repeated shots of her personally trained macrobiotic body. Who knows. Maybe Gwynnie though Adele’s fabulous ballad about love and vengeance was about turning the tables on meat and the restorative power of flaxseed (soy)milkshakes?  She’s certainly trying, is our Gwynnie, as you can see from this image: what she lacks for in vocal chops, she’s attempting to make up for in EMOTING.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see Adele in a lovely off-the-shoulder gown? Or tongue-wrangling with Mr Shuester? And while I’m not usually a fan of the whole sex-symbol thing, here’s my own table-turning experience: wouldn’t it be nice to let the fat girl be a sex symbol?

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Continue Reading · on May 2, 2011 in Feminism, pop culture

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