Did James Corden do Adele a favour ?

Having read about all the brouhaha surrounding James Corden’s curtailing of Adele’s acceptance speech at the Brits, I decided to look for the infamous moment on YouTube, and see what had actually happened.

Having watched the incident, it seems to me that Corden actually did Adele a favour. Clearly, once the singer began speaking, Corden suddenly thought: ”Oh my God: she’s actually a) got nothing worth saying and b) she surely won’t want her fans hearing her speak, surely ?”

Articulate and poetic: image credit The Metro

You see, as soon as popstars start speaking, quite often the bubble is burst. Far from being a tortured genius, giving voice to the anguish lurking inside our innermost and private souls, we find they are mindless, inarticulate morons, for whom the act of speaking in public actually lets them down.

Even the Speaker of the House of Commons is reported as saying he is ”disappointed” at Adele’s speech being cut short. Then again, that’s probably because, had Adele continued her presumably erudite and witty speech, he would have looked even better in comparison.

Bravo, James Corden: in cutting Adele’s doubtless winningly articulate and profoundly insightful speech short, you did her (and her Marketing Machine) a great service. If I were her management team, I’d be thanking you.

Where charity and love are: Paul Mealor’s Ubi Caritas

For a moment amidst all the worldwide hurly-burly, the media frenzy, the royal pomp and the public expectation of the royal wedding, there was a moment of utter stillness: Paul Mealor‘s sublime setting of Ubi Caritas et Amor.

People have pointed out the similarity with DuruflĂ©’s setting of the same text, and fair enough, there may be similarities: both are slow-moving, contemplative, sonorous and richly colourful. And it is hard not to find traces of DuruflĂ©’s setting throughout choral music ever since, such is the magic by which the Frenchman combines intimacy and colour with an accessible musical language: Eric Whitacre, anyone ?

But let’s not take anything away from Mealor’s piece, which casts a similar spell and which succeeded in reminding us that, behind all the pomp and grandeur of such a public occasion, there is actually an intimate union being celebrated at the heart of it all.

Just for a moment, time seemed to stand still; the simple two-part opening, with its open fifths and contrary motion, suddenly blossomed on the second syllable of ‘amor’ into a breathtaking, contrasting five-part cluster-chord, and you could tell this piece was something special. Drawing the listener in with its sparse opening, and then opening out with a chord of exotic colour, then converging again on ‘est’ with such a prominent sustained-fourth Eb in the context of Bb major, the colour at the heart of this piece is at once rainbow-hued and yet accessible: the ear knows where it is, even as it is being overwhelmed with a richly-wrought tapestry of colour as the lines weave amongst each other.

Looking at the piece to purchase on Amazon, I notice under the flagrant ‘Customers Also Bought’ plugging that other people also ‘apparently’ bought Adele, Jessie J and Ellie Goulding. If there was any doubt that Mealor’s piece has an approachability that transcends genres and appeals to listeners of other musical genres, (even those who like Adele’s out-of-tune effort-ful balladeering), this surely is it.

So much for the idea that contemporary music is inaccessible. Utterly breathtaking.

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