“Rolling in the Deep” changed the game. The first time you heard it you just knew that this song – that voice – was going to be a big deal. Adele is sirenic and sexy, her will-not-be-denied resolve striking a visceral blow to every self-absorbed, woe-is-me lament clogging up millions of iPods around the world.
As an album, 21 achieves much the same impact. Many of its songs have become so familiar now that they risk sounding cliché – a mere 12 months after entering the pop landscape. Yet it continues to sell like nothing else in contemporary pop, further illustrating the extent to which this music resonates with people. Popularity doesn’t equate to quality, of course; longevity will speak more to that. But it’d be churlish not to recognize that with this album Adele has tapped into the universality of heartbreak in ways that are at once intensely personal and timelessly profound.
(First published at Blogcritics.)