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The 100 Greatest Songs of the Rock Era: #96: Rolling in the Deep


Adele from 21 (2011)

“So I see your entire list isn’t going to be music made by guys a long time ago,” Peggy said.

“Not entirely, no.”

“It’s nice that you’ve stayed evolved. So what do you think? Is Adele the most important pop artist of the decade?”

“More important than Carly Rae Jepsen? Gee, I don’t know…”

Peggy chuckled. “She’s in the conversation, right?”

“No question. In fact, she’s central to the conversation. Just as 21 needs to be in the conversation for most important album of the decade. There’s so much good stuff on it. Ultimately, I felt that ‘Rolling in the Deep’ edged out songs like ‘Don’t You Remember’ and ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ because of the dynamics. I remember the first time I heard it I thought it was a nice tune with a great vocal – and then she got to the first chorus. I actually got goosebumps. That’s not a daily occurrence for me.”

“You’re just not living right. The thing that struck me was watching her sing this live for the first time. This is one tough song to sing and she looked like she was expending no effort at all. She probably could have gone up another three octaves without breaking a sweat.”

“One can only hope that she keeps her career moving forward, because there have been very few singers who can bring her combination of emotion and technical skill.”

“Let’s just hope she doesn’t need to experience an awful breakup to make music this good.”

“It really was the breakup heard ’round the world, wasn’t it?”

Peggy was quiet for a few seconds. “That’s the same thing you said about my split with Paul.”

I had completely forgotten about that. Paul was the guy Peggy dated for most of her junior year of college. I was never a huge fan, but I kept my opinions to myself. When they broke up that summer, Peggy spoke about nothing else for weeks…and weeks. About two months into this, I threw out the “breakup heard ’round the world” line to indicate that maybe this thing had been talked out. I mean, he really was kind of a jerk. Peggy didn’t speak to me for ten days afterward. It was the longest we ever went without talking until she moved to Austin.

“Sorry to bring up bad memories,” I said.

“Hey, we’re talking about music. Comes with the territory.”

I suddenly felt awkward, which was a feeling I rarely had with Peggy.

“Too bad you can’t sing like Adele, huh? You really could have cashed in.”

Peggy offered a little laugh. “Yeah, that’s exactly what I was thinking.”

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