By Madeline Barry / New York City
Move over, Elizabeth, there’s a new queen in town. Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, the adored British singer-songwriter who is universally known as Adele, is currently Billboard’s reigning monarch. Three of the songs from her newest album, 30, which was released November 19, are Top Ten on Billboard’s “Global 200’s” list. “Easy on Me,” her single from 30, which was released on October 15, is currently No. 1, “Oh My God” is situated comfortably at No. 3, and “I Drink Wine” has made its way up to No. 10.
What makes Adele’s chart-topping success even more monumental is the fact that she has not released an album since 2015. Her last album, 25, featured well-known songs like “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” and “Hello,” which was No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100’s chart for 10 weeks. But 30 is a departure. The album allows listeners to get to know a very vulnerable side of Adele, which makes sense considering the songs are centered around her recent divorce and the emotional turbulence that inevitably followed.
Adele’s ex-husband is Simon Konecki, a New York-born, London-raised businessman and CEO of the charity Drop4Drop. The organization’s stated mission is to “fund sustainable clean water solutions to countries that need it most.”
Konecki and Adele began dating in 2011, wed in 2017, and divorced in 2019. The timeline is a bit cloudy, however, because the pair did not initially announce their marriage publicly. In 2012, the couple welcomed their son, Angelo. The song “My Little Love” from 30 is written for and features Angelo in the form of snippets from a voice note conversation between him and Adele.
In the song, Adele speaks honestly to her only child, “Mommy has been having a lot of big feelings recently” she begins, referring to the demise of her marriage. Angelo interjects, “like how?” to which Adele responds “…like um I feel a bit confused… I don’t really know what I’m doing.” It is a very intimate moment between the two and is perhaps one of the most personal songs on the album, which as a whole is intensely personal.
In “My Little Love,” Adele also alludes to her own childhood trauma. Her parents, Mark Evans and Penny Adkins, separated when she was young. After the divorce, Evans became estranged and this past May he lost his battle with cancer. While Adele and Evans patched things up in the months before his death, the singer laments that she did not want Angelo to grow up the way she did, “I wanted you to have everything I never had/ I'm so sorry if what I've done makes you feel sad.”
“Easy on Me,: “Oh My God” and “I Drink Wine,” the three tracks that have dominated Billboard’s “Global 200’s List” also deal with heartbreak, but in different ways. In “Easy on Me”, Adele explores her impressive vocal range, which is emphasized by the minimal instrumental section. She admits her defeat. “There ain't no room for things to change/ When we are both so deeply stuck in our ways/ You can't deny how hard I have tried/ I changed who I was to put you both first/ But now I give up.”
When asked why she chose to release “Easy on Me'' as her single in a radio interview on Q on CBC, Adele responded that she felt the song was “calm” but also very “grown-up...it’s the right tone for where I am with relationships falling apart right now.” Clearly she was on to something. The song’s success speaks for itself.
In “I Drink Wine”, Adele takes ownership of and accepts her flaws and decides that perhaps she should just be herself. “Well I hope I learn to get over myself/ stop trying to be somebody else.” The song “Oh My God” is pop driven. The beat is quick, and Adele is more optimistic about her future. She is a “grown woman” and she will do as she pleases: “I know that it’s wrong, but I want to have fun.”
It is worth mentioning that the split between Konecki and Adele was amicable. In an interview with Vogue that was published in October, Adele discusses the reason for their decision to part ways. “Neither of us did anything wrong. Neither of us hurt each other or anything like that. It was just: I want my son to see me really love, and be loved. It’s really important to me.”
Adele quashes any rumors that the split was messy or that the couple do not get along. She goes on to explain that Konecki lives across the street and that the two are very much involved in raising Angelo, so much so that they even host regular family movie nights. Another rumor she addresses in the Vogue article is her body transformation. The singer has lost 100 pounds in the past two years, and as is the case whenever a female celebrity loses weight, folks are curious.
Adele attributes her weight loss to intense daily circuit training and weight-lifting workouts she does at her private gym, “Heart and Hustle,” located in Los Angeles. She explains that the gym became a cathartic space for her in 2017 while she was dealing with anxiety about damage to her vocal cords. “I realized that when I was working out, I didn’t have any anxiety. It was never about losing weight. I thought, ‘If I can make my body physically strong, and I can feel that and see that, then maybe one day I can make my emotions and my mind physically strong.’”
Listening to 30, it is obvious that Adele is indeed strong. The 15-time Grammy Award winner (she is tied with Alicia Keys and right behind Aretha Franklin, who won 18 Grammys), is back, baby. For her sake, we can only hope that the next album isn’t a teary 36. Keep the hits coming, Adele!
Madeline Barry is a junior high school teacher at the Ronald Edmonds Learning Center in Brooklyn, New York. Listening to music and writing for The Insider has kept her semi-sane during the pandemic.