2011 was, without a doubt, The Year of Adele. You could barely turn on a TV set, radio or laptop without being confronted with the sound of her voice, or her image and there wasn't a dry eye in the house when she performed 'Someone Like You' at the 2011 BRIT Awards. Famously stage-shy, her humble rendition of the song proved to be one of the high points for UK music. Down to earth and effortlessly cool (Jamie XX's remix of 'Rolling in the Deep' became a club anthem for 2011), Adele has, undoubtedly been one of the UK's top female stars, not to mention being the go-to-girl when TV producers need a soundtrack to the latest tragic news story, or tear-jerking soap storyline.
What has proven more remarkable, though, is that she has succeeded where countless others have failed: Over The Pond. The US market is notoriously difficult for UK artists to crack. The sheer size of the country and the way in which its regional radio networks are divided makes for a hard toil for any artist choosing to ply their wares in America. In March 2011, it was announced that Adele's second album, 21 had trounced the likes of Justin Bieber, to debut at number one on the Billboard album chart. The US may have been slightly behind the rest of the world by failing to pick up on her debut long-player, 19 but it soon caught up and welcomed into its arms the enigmatic Londoner, with her inimitable Estuary English accent and powerful, soulful vocals.
And Adele isn't the only contemporary female UK singer to be taking the world by storm. In many ways, the path was already laid for her by the late Amy Winehouse, who stole the hearts of people across the globe with her Mark Ronson-produced, retro-sounding Back to Black album. Her posthumous album, Lioness: Hidden Treasures shot straight to the top of the UK album charts and is set to do the same overseas. The album features a duet with Tony Bennett, along with other unreleased material. It has already received a great deal of critical acclaim and will undoubtedly affirm the reasons that female singers are currently showing the world how it's done.
Another breakthrough female act of 2011 is the remarkable Jessie J. She built up a fiercely loyal following by posting videos on YouTube and broke through into the mainstream with apparent ease with the bold, urban-sounding hit 'Do It Like A Dude'. The video turned heads, featuring the singer with stud-encrusted lips and Clockwork Orange-style eye make-up. So for, it would seem that the singer can do no wrong. It's rare that a female pop star will truly live up to their hype but Jessie J has proved herself to be a triple-threat: not only does she possess a vocal talent that has astounded the critics, she can dance, too. And the icing on the cake? She seems to be one of the most likeable pop stars on the planet, having collectively christened her fanbase as her 'Heartbeats' and regularly chatting with them via Twitter. She's certain to give US stars like Rihanna and Christina Aguilera a run for their money in 2012 - they had best be watching their backs.
Whilst Jessie J has got the urban pop world all sewn up, Ellie Goulding and Florence Welch have been busy making sure that the alternative scene doesn't suffer a lack of female role models. Goulding won the British Critics Choice award in 2010 and, in 2011 ventured over to the States to make waves over there, supporting Katy Perry on her recent tour and performing at New York Fashion Week. Not content to let Goulding bag the Kooky UK Songstress crown, Florence (aka Florence and the MAChine) has continued her bid to be everybody's favourite new Kate Bush. Whilst the indie world baulked at her decision to appear on the UK TV talent show X Factor in November, she responded by doing exactly the same on the US version of the show, where her performance was greeted with reverie and respect.
With the likes of Lianne La Havas set to take the world by storm, following her performance on Later. With Jools Holland, it seems that the UK shows no sign of slowing its ability to produce top-notch female singers and songwriters. The US has tried to respond by launching the career of Lana Del Rey, but frankly, with the news slowly breaking of her millionaire heritage and threatening her credibility, her chances of success may be faltering before it has gathered any serious pace. And whilst Us rapper Azealia Banks may be on all the hipsters' lists for 2012 as one to watch, her racy lyrical content will almost definitely prevent her from crossing into the mainstream. For now, then, the world continues to look to the UK for credible female talent. As long as Adele can shake off the medical problems that have threatened her vocal cords, the world is hers for the taking and the rest of the UK scene is not far behind.
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