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Last Updated: Friday, 4 January 2008, 07:02 GMT
Sound of 2008: Adele
By Ian Youngs
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Nineteen-year-old singer-songwriter Adele has come top of the BBC's Sound of 2008 poll, which showcases the best new music talent for the new year.

Almost 150 of the UK's most knowledgeable and influential music critics, editors and broadcasters picked their favourite new acts in the poll.


Adele

In person, Adele Adkins is not too different from many other 19-year-olds.

She raves about her love of celebrity magazines and boys, smokes and drinks with gusto and relishes being a drama queen.

She willingly talks of herself as gobby, speaks with a loose cockney accent and her conversations are punctuated by eruptions of laughter.

But when she gets on stage or into the studio, she reveals why she has been tipped as the outstanding new musical talent for 2008.

The first thing that ensnares listeners is the piercingly poignant singing voice, dripping with soul, which goes on jazzy excursions as it swings between being sultry and joyful.

And in her songwriting, her youthful and wide-eyed lyrics are conveyed through tunes that show musical maturity.

Adele
Adele went to the same performing arts school as Amy Winehouse
Adele - she is known by her first name - namechecks everyone from Jill Scott and Eva Cassidy to the Spice Girls and East 17 as influences.

But the pivotal moment in her development came when she was 13 or 14, when she tried to impress her friends by buying Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald CDs.

She did not get round to listening to them for another year, at which point she started trying to copy their styles.

"I really, really loved it," she says. "It was simply by singing along to them that I learnt I could sing."

'I like love'

She enrolled at the Brit performing arts school, whose graduates include Amy Winehouse, Katie Melua, Leona Lewis and Kate Nash.

"I was there at the same time as Kate and Hugh from the Kooks," Adele says. "But I'm not best mates with neither of them or nothing."

It's always about love or hate, really, and if I'm not in either I have to create it
Adele on her songwriting
Around that time, Adele started writing her own songs and honing her own soulful sound.

"I love the timeless singers, I like voices, and I don't think it's all about the voice with guitar music and electro music and rock music."

When asked what inspires her to write, she immediately responds: "Love, I like love.

"I like drama. I like causing drama as well. It's always about love or hate, really, and if I'm not in either I have to create it."

She had lots of drama last year, she says with relish.

"Not bad drama - just every other drama that everyone else has. Rubbish boyfriends and stopping talking to your mates and stuff.

Adele
Adele's debut album, 19, is released in the UK in January
"But I create a lot of it as well, and I exaggerate a lot of it sometimes and annoy them so they're even meaner to me. I do it on purpose sometimes. I create my own drama."

Her debut single Hometown Glory was written as a paean to London after her mother tried to persuade her to move to Liverpool to university.

'Scandalous'

There is now much anticipation for her debut album, 19, which is out in the UK at the end of January.

"I'm not really feeling very pressurised, I thought I would," Adele says.

"I'm really excited, I hope it's always about the music and I hope I don't become scandalous and it takes me like an hour to get out my front door.

I'm obsessed with celebrity - I just don't want to be one
Adele
"I hope I always enjoy it, and I think I will. I'm having a laugh."

The singer admits she is "obsessed" with reading about scandalous celebrities, but she does not want to be one herself.

"I love Heat magazine. I love these magazines because they look like rubbish, some of these people who you think are untouchable.

"So you feel really good when you look at them, and I like seeing what they get up to when they ain't working.

"I just don't want that to ever happen to me."

And what if it did? "If it ever got to the point where I couldn't do anything, I'd quit," she declares.

"Music's wicked and I love doing it and I have a laugh, but my life's more important to me than my music. So I'd leave until everyone had forgotten about me."

Is that a serious threat or just more dramatics? Fans will hope they never have to find out.

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