Adele. Just a Mom?


 The New York Times tweeted this this morning. When you follow the link to the article, here’s what it says:

“When official sales numbers are announced by Nielsen on Monday, they are expected to show that Adele’s new album, “25,” which went on sale Nov. 20, will have sold at least 3.2 million copies in the United States in its first week. That smashes an opening-week sales record that has stood since ’N Sync sold 2.4 million copies of “No Strings Attached” in 2000. But annual CD sales then were more than five times what they are now, and the music industry relied on a vast network of brick-and-mortar retailers that has long since eroded.”

Impressive, no? Taken on its own, this is awesome (in the literal meaning of the word) news. It’s Adele telling the music industry, “Hey, you say you’re dying? Nope, not if I have anything to do with it. Watch this.”It’s Adele belting out songs that touch hearts and make people cry. It’s about a voice that’s almost too soulful to believe.

Here’s what it should mean: that Adele is a talented-as-hell singer, worked hard, and achieved her goals.

Here’s what The New York Times reduced it to: clickbait.

Because that’s what that tweet was. Pure clickbait. 140 characters constructed in order to get users to click over to their website. And the easiest way to do that, of course, was to reduce Adele to a mere headline.

And when you do that, what is Adele? Just a mom. Not just a mom, either, but a 27-year-old mom. She’s young! So young! And a woman, too? Did you know that?

I have no problem with adjectives. Adele is a woman. And a mother. She’s twenty-seven, too. it’s the truth. It’s reality.

But descriptions enter that blurry area when they’re used to qualify something. When they’re used to make a point that people like “this” (whatever “this” may be) don’t usually accomplish things. And that’s what The New York Times is doing here. They’re deliberately making a point that Adele accomplished everything in spite of being a woman and a mother. Not “because” or “along with.” In spite of.

In this headline, Adele is a novelty. Someone cute and adorable. I picture some editor out there lowering his big, hairy masculine hand onto Adele’s head and patting her hair, like stereotypical old relatives do in a children’s book. Maybe the editor is even pinching her cheeks and calling her a “good little girl.”


Such a good little girl for managing to keep up and even surpass N’Sync. They’re men, you know. Big bad men.

Here’s that headline in an alternate universe:

Kanye West, a 38-year-old dad of one with another baby on the way, has sold more than 21 million albums.

Or, as author Caroline Carson, put it:

Let’s lose the clickbait and focus on the accomplishment.

Let her voice speak for itself.

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