September 1, 2011
I’ve had the Adele album for a good bit now, and “Someone Like You” is my favorite track on it. I’d already heard how the song shot to #1 in the U.K. after she performed it on the Brit Awards.
I checked out that performance, and thought it was good. Not great, but good.
So when I heard all the buzz about her performance of the song on Sunday’s MTV Awards, I didn’t rush to check it out, and ended up just watching it last night out of boredom.
I can’t tell if it’s because she was a bit hoarse, or if she was trying to hold back her tears. Either way, it was so stunningly powerful that I was even a bit shaken up by the whole thing.
I know that there’s going to be the inevitable claims of authenticity and real talent and such, which makes sense given the pop landscape that she’s performing in. But honestly, it’s been a really long time since anything has happened on a country music stage that’s even come close to what Adele pulled off that night.
It reminded me of Reba McEntire’s performance of “For My Broken Heart” on the 1991 CMA Awards. She’s a seasoned pro who rarely misses a note, but she tears up so much in the final chorus that she can’t get the notes out, and imperfection that makes the performance timelessly perfect:
I can’t find the clip online, but it also reminded me of Vince Gill singing “The Key to Life” on the 1998 show, also breaking down in the final few lines of the song. I miss moments like this in country music.
No wonder I’m so awfully disinterested in country this year. Besides the usual mainstream drivel, I’ve also been disappointed by new albums from usually reliable folks like Dolly Parton, Todd Snider, Alison Krauss & Union Station, and even Emmylou Harris. I’ve taken to pretending that The Civil Wars are somehow country so that I don’t write the genre off completely this year.
The only thing I’ve really loved so far? Matraca Berg’s The Dreaming Fields. It’s got that same rawness that must be speaking to me for some reason these days. There’s no chance of Berg making it back on the radio in 2011, but with all the shameless format-hopping that’s been allowed by country programmers in recent years, maybe we can get them to give a few spins to Adele.