I am in love with this band! They are stellar. Their covers are epic. I’m gonna stop talking (typing) now and you can listen for yourself.
Why does Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ make everyone cry? Science has found the formula
The Wall Street Journal (illustration) Associated Press (photo); Universal Music Publishing (score)
On Sunday night, the British singer-songwriter Adele is swept the Grammys. Three of her six nominations are for her rollicking hit "Rolling in the Deep." But it’s her ballad "Someone Like You" that has risen to near-iconic status recently, due in large part to its uncanny power to elicit tears and chills from listeners. The song is so famously sob-inducing that "Saturday Night Live" recently ran a skit in which a group of co-workers play the tune so they can all have a good cry together.
What explains the magic of Adele’s song? Though personal experience and culture play into individual reactions, researchers have found that certain features of music are consistently associated with producing strong emotions in listeners. Combined with heartfelt lyrics and a powerhouse voice, these structures can send reward signals to our brains that rival any other pleasure.
Twenty years ago, the British psychologist John Sloboda conducted a simple experiment. He asked music lovers to identify passages of songs that reliably set off a physical reaction, such as tears or goose bumps. Participants identified 20 tear-triggering passages, and when Dr. Sloboda analyzed their properties, a trend emerged: 18 contained a musical device called an "appoggiatura."
An appoggiatura is a type of ornamental note that clashes with the melody just enough to create a dissonant sound. "This generates tension in the listener," said Martin Guhn, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia who co-wrote a 2007 study on the subject. "When the notes return to the anticipated melody, the tension resolves, and it feels good."
Chills often descend on listeners at these moments of resolution. When several appoggiaturas occur next to each other in a melody, it generates a cycle of tension and release. This provokes an even stronger reaction, and that is when the tears start to flow.
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Once again, I must credit my daughter Kayla for pushing me to purchase Adele’s “21”. I’m not a big “jump-on-the-bandwagon” kind of guy, however, from the moment I put the disc in my player, I was hooked. I absolutely love this girl. Everything about her, expresses artist. There is no lying in her singing. She has such a talent for characterization in song, and a pure bluesy strength, the kind that could rips your heart out. Adele divided the new material between aggressive pieces, splashed by smart percussive flourishes and stripped-down ballads, rippling with soul.
“I’ll Be Waiting,” highlights Adele’s heartbroken resiliency. Produced by Paul Epworth and co-written with Adele, has a neo-soul sashay, swishing with confidence and brio, and it inspires the singer to push her vocal expressions into sweet howls reminiscent of Dusty Springfield, another Brit deeply influenced by American country and soul. “I’ll be somebody different,” Adele sings, not as concession but as exuberant promise, “I’ll be better to you.”
It figures then that the other track that gives Adele ample ground for theatrics, albeit of a more moody ilk, is another contribution from Epworth. “Rolling in the Deep,” the album’s first single, provides Adele with the perfect stormy vessel; her voice tossing and turning, shipwrecked and mad but never losing control.
There are other worthy tracks on “21,” like the Rick Rubin-produced “He Won’t Go,” with its elegant piano and ticking beat, and the softly sentimental “Turning Tables,” but they don’t scrape at an exciting greatness the way the other two do. Occasionally, Adele finds herself in lesser territory, like “Don’t You Remember,” which sounds overwrought in both construction and performance.
“Someone Like You” offers a 10-hankie wretch-fest, boasting lyrics that speak of surviving a rejection that clearly cut her to the core. Like everything here, it sounds like a classic but also a dare. “21″ draws an unequivocal line in the sand that announces to every other diva around: Beat this.
Thanks Kayla, even though it seems like most have already heard this album, I’m glad I finally jumped on…