Oh, look at that. It’s time for another Radio Rant.
So, do you want to listen to a good song this week?
I’m not talking about a song where it’s not so much “good” as much as “Well, listening to it left me with faith in humanity”, but a genuinely kickass song. Like a surprising number of good songs that chart, it’s also by a relatively unknown artist. British singer Adele was signed as a teenager after some record execs heard her on MySpace. She quickly became a huge hit in England, yet never made it past the iPods of college girls with arty haircuts in America. This seems to happen a lot.
But Adele’s looking to beat those odds, mostly on the strength of “Rolling in the Deep”, her first Top 20 hit, and the subject of this week’s Radio Rant.
“Rolling in the Deep” begins with some acoustic strumming under Adele’s opening line, “There’s a fire starting in my heart/Reaching a fever pitch, and it’s bringing me out to dark”, a strong line. One of my favorite things about Adele, and a lot of naturally talented vocalists, is that she makes singing this well sound easy, but even more importantly fun. As the verse continues, her voice hits highs and lows, but it’s never showing off. Soon, the song gets more of a rustic blues feel as a basic drum beat kicks in, then some piano joins in on the prechorus.
And the tension built-in the first minute of the song gets released on one of my favorite choruses I’ve heard this year. It’s a hell of a hook that manages to be everything good at once, as well as being cathartic. The fact that Adele just lets loose on it sweetens the deal. The first couple of times I heard the chorus, I thought it had a passing resemblance to Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”, but over time the hook has come into its own (although the two sound great together). “Rolling in the Deep” is quickly becoming one of those songs I’m hearing everywhere, and I’ve enjoyed the chorus every single time.
I love it when we get left-field pop hits like this, because they’re an all around breath of fresh air. The vocals are from a natural talent, and the song’s crafted with care. For one thing, “Rolling in the Deep” acoustic instrumentation, making the music every bit as natural as the vocals. And while a lot of pop songs sound like a few measures being repeated over and over, this song’s instruments ebb and flow; building energy, but then releasing it with deadly precision.
That precision’s more than apparent on the transition between the second chorus and the bridge, when the instruments drop out for a hand-clap and vocals breakdown. At this point, the song’s revealed itself as one part break-up and one part revenge, and there’s some great back and forth between Adele and the fantastically located backing vocals. Other instruments work their way back in, building up to one last great chorus, and the delivery is better than expected.
So yeah, it should come as no surprise that I really like “Rolling in the Deep”. In addition to flat out being a great bluesy song with a strong beat with Adele’s powerhouse voice, it’s also catchy as all get out, a blast to (try to) sing along to, and it’s impossible to stay still while listening to it. In short: how to be a good song while also being a knockout pop song.