Rolling Stone caught up with Adele when she was in town to film an episode of VH1 Unplugged earlier this month, days after her sophomore album, 21, topped the charts in eight countries. In his review of 21 (out Tuesday in the US), Rolling Stone‘s Will Hermes writes, “Adele has toughened her tone, trimmed the jazz frippery and sounds ready for a pub fight.” (Read the full review)
Watch the interview above to get a sneak peek at Adele’s upcoming U.S. tour and find out what it was like for Adele to work with Rick Rubin, the meaning behind her hit single “Rolling in the Deep” and what would happen if she made a hip-hop record. Check out her singing cuts from 19 and 21 including “Chasing Pavements” and “Someone Like You” when VH1 Unplugged: Adele premieres on March 3rd at 7:00 p.m. ET at unplugged.vh1.com and on VH1 March 4th at 11:00 p.m.
Adele: Well, I think actually on the first record I was pretty honest, but I tried to be less honest on this record — but I think this record is more open and less kind of masked by phrases and stuff like that than ever. Just because I find that, you know, on my first record, “Chasing Pavements” — I always tried to like disguise the true depth of my devastation by like something kind of humorous or something that wasn’t real, like a title, whatever. And on this one, I think some of the songs on here are the most articulate I’ve ever written, not that I’m that experienced — I’m only on my second record — but “Someone Like You” is one of the most articulate songs I’ve ever heard in general, let alone one of mine. That’s quite a breath of fresh air for me.
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It’s just a bitter break-up record, and towards the end I’m a bit more like, “Well, shit happens.”
I met Rick Rubin — I collaborated a lot more on this record than I ever have, just cause I’m quite throwaway with my own material, so I find I’m, like, more forgiving of myself if I’m working with other people. I met Rick Rubin at Saturday Night Live, which still is the most memorable, poignant day of my life. It’s that show that broke me here and then met Rick there as well, which was just very bizarre, but in a good way. It was mutual that we ended up working together. It’s not like I was like, “Hey, Rick, do you want to produce my next record?” You don’t do that to Rick Rubin. But he also didn’t say, like, “Would you like me to produce your record?” It just sort of happened. But it was incredible. I’ve been aware of Rick Rubin forever, like Californication defined me when I was a very angsty teenager.
Like “Rolling in the Deep,” the phrase “rolling in the deep” is sort of my adaptation of a kind of slang, slur phrase in the UK called “roll deep,” which means to have someone, always have someone that has your back, and you’re never on your own, if you’re ever in trouble you’ve always got someone who’s going to come and help you fight it or whatever like that. And that’s how I felt in the relationship that the record’s about, especially “Rolling in the Deep.” That’s how I felt, you know, I thought that’s what I was always going to have, and um, it ended up not being the case.
I think I might make a hip-hop record, because all I’m listening to is Nicki Minaj and Kanye West and Drake and stuff like that. No, I doubt I’ll make a hip-hop record, but I don’t think I’d have the swagger to get away with it, not with this accent anyway. It would be annoying. It would be like a kind of sketch show if I did it.
I start my tour in March in Europe, April in the UK and then I come here in May. I mean, it’s not going to be anything like stage-wise spectacular, it’s not going to be like the Monster Ball or anything. I’m just going to sing the songs.
I like to try and make people feel like they’re not at a gig. I want them to feel like this could be their mate round their house.
Yeah, definitely going to be doing a few covers on the tour, but I’ll probably do a David Gray one, “This Year’s Love,” I love that song. I might do that “Natural Woman” cover I did today. I love singing it. I know I don’t change it at all, and I said earlier that I think it’s really important that when you do a cover you either make it better than the original or you just make it a completely different song. And, um, I didn’t do that with “Natural Woman.” But I get this feeling when I sing that song that I never get when I’m singing any other song, either covers or my own songs or nothing. And I’m like, “This cheers me right up, I love it.” So I might do that. But just sporadically. And then, um, I might do a Beatles cover, “Blackbird,” I think, cause my piano player plays it all the time in sound check. It’s a beautiful song and very patriotic, you know. Me in Omaha singing a Beatles song.
Adele is guest DJing on SiriusXM’s The Spectrum channel on Friday, February 18 at 12:00 pm ET (rebroadcasting on Saturday at 9:00 pm and Monday at 4:00 pm). Below are some songs you can hear:
Mumford & Sons –The Cave
Elbow – Grounds for Divorce
Neko Case – This Tornado Loves You
Genesis – Throwing It All Away
Adele – Rolling in the Deep