.

Breaking: Adele

January 7, 2009 4:24 PM ET

Who: Neo-soulstress Adele, a 20-year-old Londonite whose debut album 19 became the surprise hit of the Grammys after getting nominations for Best New Artist and Record of the Year.

Sounds Like: Like U.K. exports Amy Winehouse and Duffy, Adele brings a retro R&B sound with a hint of "heartbroken soul," as she's dubbed it. The style is evident on her hit "Chasing Pavements." The song was inspired by a bitter breakup that soaks into the fiber of 19: After discovering her boyfriend was cheating on her, Adele punched him in the face at a pub and promptly got thrown out. "As I was running away, the phrase 'chasing pavements' came to me," Adele remembers. "I sang it into my phone, went home and got three chords together."

Vital Stats:

• Adele isn't your typical pop star, with her thick British accent, a heavy Marlboro habit and a relaxed attitude about her un-pop-star body. "She's not going to get anywhere — she's a fat girl," Adele recalls her detractors saying. In fact, Adele first considered a job in A&R before recording a demo, which grabbed the attention of XL Records. "I went from thinking I could get a scouting job — then they said 'We want to sign you.' "

• Adele is the product of the BRIT School of performing arts in Croydon, a district of London. In recent years, the school has rivaled the Mickey Mouse Club in terms of producing talent: Leona Lewis, Amy Winehouse, Kate Nash, Katie Melua, Imogen Heap and the Kooks' Luke Pritchard are all former students.

• Adele performed in front of 15 million people when she was the musical guest on an episode of Saturday Night Live last October. Why the huge audience? Sarah Palin made a not-so-surprise cameo. "I met her, and she said 'I'm a huge fan,' " Adele remembers. "I had an Obama badge on. I felt like a backstabber."

Hear It Now: 19 is in stores and digital music services now, and she's currently touring the U.S. until the end of January. Click above to check out Adele's video for "Cinders and Smoke."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Road to Nowhere”

Talking Heads | 1985

A cappella harmonies give way to an a fuller arrangement blending pop and electro-disco on "Road to Nowhere," but the theme remains constant: We're on an eternal journey to an undefined destination. The song vaulted back into the news a quarter century after it was a hit when Gov. Charlie Crist used it in his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida. "It's this little ditty about how there's no order and no plan and no scheme to life and death and it doesn't mean anything, but it's all right," Byrne said with a chuckle.

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com