How Adele Proved America’s Crankiest Critic Wrong
Before she sold millions, one prominent critic said Adele was too fat to ever make it. Wow, did she ever prove him wrong.
Before Adele ever released her highly anticipated third full-length album, 25, industry experts predicted she would break sales records. After all, her first two records sold a combined 37 million copies worldwide and she’s been a non-stop hit machine since her big break in 2008.
But one pre-eminent music writer predicted she’d never reach such dazzling heights.
In February 2008, three weeks after Adele released her debut album, a cranky Bob Lefsetz blogged that although he was “inundated” with emails hyping the British singer-songwriter, “I realized that she was just a bit too jazzy for me.”
“Although she’s a smash in the U.K., I seriously doubt she can make it big here in America,” he added. Why? “Because she’s FAT!”
Yep. America’s brashest critic thought the mezzo soprano was too buxom to ever achieve success stateside.
“You can be a drug addict. You can be stupid. But don’t be FAT!” Lefsetz blared. “In America it’s all about appearances. Fat girls don’t get a chance. Hell, the girl on ‘Ugly Betty’ isn’t even ugly!”
His astonishingly narrow-minded rant continued: “Music is something you hear, check Adele out through your ears. Then maybe watch some video footage. Because it will be a shock. We never see ANYTHING like this on television in America.”
Two platinum records, seven Top 40 hits, and a single-week sales record later, Lefsetz has been proven terribly wrong.
It should come as no surprise the curmudgeonly music writer has a reputation for throwing ugly jabs at pop stars.
In 2007, he wrote a screed against country-rapper Kid Rock with a simple conclusion: “Fuck Kid Rock.” Despite having never held a prominent position in the music industry, Lefsetz’s letters get passed around by everyone from interns to executives; and so Rock felt compelled to respond.
“You are a fucking shithead,” he shot back. The pair has since reconciled.
Several years later, Lefsetz trashed “dreadful” Taylor Swift, declaring that she had “consigned herself to the dustbin of teen phenoms.” She wrote a hit song “Mean,” about him, and five years later, Lefsetz is undeniably wrong about her talent.
Unsurprisingly, Lefsetz has also never acknowledged how wrong he was about Adele. Though in 2011, he sang a slightly different tune about Adele’s trajectory.
“This album’s gonna sell and sell and sell,” he wrote after her sophomore effort, 21, was released. “First of all she’s young. That’s what struck me. She was a twentysomething with an unlined face. And she’s no longer fat.”
He swooned over her live performance, calling one Los Angeles gig “mind-bending,” “staggering,” and “something special.”
Three days later, still seemingly obsessed with her weight, Lefsetz continued: “We’ve determined Adele is great. The mainstream media just can’t figure out why. She doesn’t have a famous boyfriend, she’s not skinny enough, she’s not leveraging her ‘brand.’ She’s doing it WRONG! But she’s doing it oh-so-right.”
Fast-forward to this week when Lefsetz blogged about how Adele is on pace to sell north of 3 million records in her first week. And wouldn’t you know it: He didn’t mention her body at all.
That’s probably for the best.