The time I listened to Adele’s new album with Adele

The music that went on to make history

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The internet was buzzing last night as music from Adele’s new album was teased during an ad break for The X factor. And if it’s possible, I was more excited than anyone.

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When Adele released her second album 21 in 2011, it went on to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide. It was also named the best-selling artist album of the millennium. In short, it was an international phenomenon. And I was one of the first people to hear it.

Let me explain. In the run up its release, in my capacity as the editor of ELLE’s music pages, Adele’s team invited me to hear an early ‘playback’ of the singer’s highly anticipated second album. She’d already blown us all away with 19, her audaciously brilliant debut. So of course my expectations were high.

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A playback usually takes place in some music PR’s office or in a bar with a load of other journalists. The artist is there which makes the whole situation kind of awkward as everyone politely nods their heads to the music or worse, earnestly closes their eyes in a bid to express their deep appreciation. But this one was different. I was invited to actual Adele’s actual London home where it was just me, Adele, her publicist and her dog Louie. So far, so intimate. Eek, there was literally nowhere to hide.

After some casual small talk, we sat down at the dining room table to hear the album. The difficult thing in this situation is working out what to do with your hands. And your face. And basically your whole body. What you really need is a prop. But you can’t look at your phone or read a book or paint your nails. And it’s not like you want to do those things anyway but as the music plays, you just become extremely aware of yourself and there is simply no way of styling it out without looking like an idiot.

Lucky Adele had the copy of ELLE I’d brought along so she happily flipped through that while her publicist busied himself with managing the music system. So there I was left to just sit and listen and try to come across as a vaguely normal human being who was appreciating the music without coming across like a psychopath.

Here’s the good part. Every single song was absolutely phenomenal. Rolling In The Deep. Rumour Has It. Set Fire To The Rain. I’m no expert but I knew that I was listening to music history in the making. From one song to the next, I was totally absorbed in every lyric and key change. I should probably be thankful that to this day, I have no idea what my face was doing in reaction to all of this. I was too busy enjoying it.

And then just like that, the music stopped. Again, I can’t remember what I said when they asked me, what do you think? I know for sure that I will have told Adele I liked it, if not loved it. But how I phrased it, I couldn’t tell you. And no one would have cared anyway. They knew this album was something special. They didn’t need me to tell them.

I haven’t heard a note from the new album yet but when I do, wherever I am, I will close my eyes, furrow my brow in earnest, nod my head and possibly even sway in deep appreciation.

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