May 27th, 2011
Is Adele the bravest, craziest, most downright wonderful star in the history of pop? After what she has just told Q magazine on the subject of tax, I think she might well be.
Here’s what she said: “I’m mortified to have to pay 50 per cent! [While] I use the NHS, I can’t use public transport any more. Trains are always late, most state schools are ––––, and I’ve gotta give you, like, four million quid – are you having a laugh? When I got my tax bill in from [her album] 19, I was ready to go and buy a gun and randomly open fire.”
The reaction from Guardian readers online has been typically unpleasant: “£4 million is nothing compared to the money the NHS needs for the psychological damage her painfully bad excuse for
the psychological damage her painfully bad excuse for music has inflicted,” quips Ianl. “So not only a purveyor of boring mum soul, but a bloody Tory too?” says JohnnyVodka.
Which, of course, makes the 23-year-old London soul singer’s outspokenness all the more admirable. She’d have known the effect her remarks would have on her audience. Yet with the insouciance of a woman who has spent most of the year topping both the UK and US charts, she has apparently decided that becoming British pop’s answer to Sarah Palin is a fate she is big enough to handle.
In the music business this is probably a first. Sure, the Beatles famously wrote a song about the absurd 95 per cent tax rate under Wilson and Heath: “Let me tell you how it will be/There’s one for you, 19 for me/Because I’m the taxman.” Sure, the Kinks sang, in Sunny Afternoon, how “the tax man’s taken all my dough”. Sure, the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main St was inspired by the year they spent exiled in the south of France to avoid the punitive UK tax rate. But, though they may have let such sentiments slip into their song lyrics, they certainly never did so in their interviews or public statements.
And with good reason. A rock star can get away with many vices – from drugs to Satan worship to on-stage bat decapitation – but the one perversion that remains absolutely verboten is the kind of conservatism expressed by Adele. Rock stars, after all, are traditionally supposed to be champions of the underdog. Their fans may permit them the odd stately home or private jet, but what they absolutely won’t forgive is any sign that they’ve abandoned their socialist principles. That would be “selling out”.
This is why the list of “out” conservatives in the music biz is so embarrassingly, painfully short. In the US, about the best names they can come up with are Lynyrd Skynyrd (mostly dead), Kid Rock (who?) and Johnny Ramone. In Britain, the list is even shorter – just Tony Hadley out of Spandau Ballet, apparently; and Gary Numan – not least because the merest intimation of Right-ish leanings is so swiftly pounced upon by the commissars of the Leftie music press.
When, in 2009, Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker hinted that a Conservative government might be desirable at the next election, he carefully presented it as an anti-Gordon Brown view (“he makes a mockery of the whole system”, claimed Cocker) rather than a pro-Cameron one (the thought of a Tory administration, he insisted, did not “excite” him).
By pop star standards, even this was dangerously reactionary. What you’re really supposed to do if you’re proper and authentic is hate the Tories so violently that you issue a fatwa banning them from your records: just like Johnny Marr and Morrissey did to David Cameron when they heard he was a fan of the Smiths.
Yes, there may be other closet conservatives lurking discreetly backstage (Neil Young, it’s said; and also Mick Jagger). But openly and in the full glare of the spotlight? All but never. Adele, your openness, fearlessness and integrity puts the rest of your industry to shame.
(to read more, click here)
Leave a Reply
Mail (will not be published) (required)