12 Things We Learned From Adele’s Rolling Stone Cover Story

“She’s a superstar and sassy as fuck.”

November 03, 2015

RS x @rollingstone

A photo posted by @adele on

25, Adele’s first album since 2011, is due out in less than three weeks. The anticipation for the new record is already nearing hysteria: the singer’s lead single, “Hello,” was streamed more than a million times per hour and shot straight to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, breaking a digital download record in the process.

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Adele covers the latest issue of Rolling Stone. In the entertaining story, she confesses her love of Frank Ocean and Rihanna, compares her squad to Taylor Swift’s, and talks about the influence of Madonna’s Ray Of Light on 25. Read the full story here, and check out highlights from the conversation below.

On mom hangovers: “‘I used to be able to drink anyone under the table and still be able to put on an all-right show,’ she says. ‘But with kids, hangovers are torture. They just know. They pick up on it and just go for you.’”

On squads: “I’ve heard about a squad,” she says with an amused snort. “I wish my squad was all supermodels. We are, in our brains. I guess I have my own squad.’ She pronounces the word in a comical American accent. ‘It’s not as interesting as some of the other squads that are around right now.’ She brightens. ‘But maybe Rihanna can be in my squad! That would be really cool. Oh, God. She’s life itself, isn’t she? I love her.’”

On Frank Ocean: “‘I’m just fucking waiting for Frank fucking Ocean to come out with his album,’ she says. ‘It’s taking so fucking long.’”

On the importance of Madonna: “[O]ne of the chief inspirations for 25 was Madonna’s Ray of Light. ‘You know what I found so amazing about that record?’ Adele says. ‘That’s the record Madonna wrote after having her first child, and for me, it's her best…’”

On having the same tattoo as Lana Del Rey: “She didn’t find out until too late that Lana Del Rey also has a ‘paradise’ hand tattoo… “She probably thinks I’m, like, some mad fangirl,” she says, launching into a campy rendition of the chorus of ‘Born to Die.’ ‘I mean, I am a Lana fangirl, but not a crazy one.’”

Rick Rubin’s thoughts about her initial batch of songs: “In the new material I heard, it was clear she wasn't the primary writer—many of the songs sounded like they might be on a different pop artist’s album. It’s not just her voice singing any song that makes it special.”

On her new approach to lyrics: “On 21, she came into sessions with Moleskine notebooks full of lyric ideas. This time, she often started from scratch, summoning songs from the air. Her collaborators would play chords while Adele improvised melodies and lyrics, sometimes in a single burst. ‘It’s impossible to question why she’s where she is once you sit down with her to write a song,’ says [Tobias] Jesso. ‘She was the first introduction I had to somebody who could sing words on the spot that were actually really great.’”

On her sass: “‘She’s a superstar and sassy as fuck,’ says [Bruno] Mars, who recalls a brief disagreement over one lyric. ‘Once she recorded it, it became one of my favorite parts of the song. She told me she hopes I’m in the audience when she sings that line live so she can flick me off.’”

On writing with Damon Albarn: “‘It ended up being one of those ‘don’t meet your idol’ moments,’ she says. ‘And the saddest thing was that I was such a big Blur fan growing up. But it was sad, and I regret hanging out with him.’ They didn’t finish a single song. ‘No! None of it was right. None of it suited my record. He said I was insecure, when I’m the least-insecure person I know. I was asking his opinion about my fears, about coming back with a child involved—because he has a child—and then he calls me insecure?’”

On 25’s more modern sound: “‘This time, it was about trying to come up with the weirdest sounds that I could get away with,’ says [Paul] Epworth, who co-wrote two tracks on 25. ‘This album feels like it fits in maybe more with the cultural dialogue instead of being anachronistic to it. It’s almost like she’s trying to beat everyone else at their own game.”

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On working with Sia: “‘I actually love the dynamic of us both being in there and just fucking being bossy,’ she says with a laugh. ‘And it’s all these male producers, and they’re all fucking shitting themselves ‘cause we’re in there.’”

On a possible deluxe edition: “There's roughly a full album's worth of outtakes from 25.”

12 Things We Learned From Adele’s Rolling Stone Cover Story