Adele is the New Mary J. Blige

There is a certain strain of popular music, sung exclusively by women, where the drama about the singer’s life is just as important as what they say. These types of singers are almost always worshipped by young women and gay men.For most of the 1990’s this icon was Mary J. Blige. Blige’s music reonated with many listeners. She sung songs about bad romances, down and dirty men, and her other woes. These topics and the way she sang them made her an almost instant hit. Songs like “Not Gon’ Cry” and “I’m Goin’ Down” were anthems for the brokenhearted and abused.

What made Mary even more interesting and adored by her fans was that her personal life was also a shambles. Her romance with K-Ci of Jodeci was filled with drug abuse, alcoholism, and physical/emotional abuse. Knowing this about Mary created a fan base around her that felt a kinship to her and her problems. And then, something happened. Mary met a man she was compatible with who does not treat her poorly. She also gave up drugs and alcohol. This started the second stage of Mary’s career where many of her songs were much more positive (i.e. “I’m Happy”, “No More Drama”). And, although her albums still sold, her devotees that worshipped not just her voice, but her drama were not as engaged.

So, what does this have to do with Adele?

The reason I even wrote this and made the corollary was because of the tweets of Toure (@toure) during an Adele concert. He wrote about her stage presence, confessional manner, and the adoration of her fans. The first person I thought of during reading his tweets was of Mary J. Blige. During her “realness” period, her fans held her in much the same regard. Adele wrote her massive hit “Rollin’ in the Deep” about a break-up she went through right before the album’s release. The nature of the song and the raw lyrics have placed it in the stratosphere. It’s a major hit that can be heard on almost all radio format. The song has also been covered by other artists and used on the TV show “Glee”. It has become ubiquitous. But, this is a hit song, not solely about Adele’s persona and story.

That persona and story will bring her devoted fans. A core that will stick by her after “Rollin’ in the Deep” has left the airwaves. She can ask Mary or Mariah or Cher or Judy what that’s like.


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