First Hit #1: May 21, 2011
Adele achieved fame because of her voice. A song about a painful breakup, Rolling in the Deep is voice first, all other elements augmenting what Adele is trying to do with her vocal performance. The most compelling element is just how it explores different ideas to best handle the vocal performance – I can think of many divas who could have used the stripped bare, percussion-lead, gospel-influenced arrangement that Adele gets here. It isn’t an arrangement that just tries to get out of the singer’s way – there are not many elements, but the ones that exist are there to give the song a great percussive drive. Adele carries the melody, and the rest of the arrangement admits that and just pushes hard with the elements that she isn’t providing with her voice. She can’t do percussion, so we’ve got some big drums. It also understands why gospel choirs work, giving Adele something of a studio-created choir for her solo to bounce off of. There are lots of ways to handle a voice like Adele’s, and Rolling in the Deep has found the best of them, keeping it at the forefront and complimenting it with just the right amount of musical seasoning.