On paper, perhaps there was something to be culled from the pairing of powerhouse soul singer Adele and Britpop legend Damon Albarn. Both have proud British sensibilities, both could play with genre at their discretion, both had killer voices, and Adele herself even proclaimed herself a fan of Albarn’s work in Blur. So when the two got together to take part in a recording session for Adele’s album 25, the magic was certain to pour out, right? Well, apparently not.
Instead, the experience left both artists with bad tastes in their respective gobs, and to hear them talk about it makes the sessions themselves sound like an awful mix of personalities. “Adele asked me to work with her and I took the time out for her… Will she use any of the stuff? I don’t think so,” Albarn told The Sun in 2015. “The thing is, she’s very insecure. And she doesn’t need to be, she’s still so young”.
For her part, Adele told Rolling Stone that same year, “It ended up being one of those ‘don’t meet your idol’ moments. 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. 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,” she added. “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?”.
The pair never ended up finishing the material they started, and the likelihood of hearing those demos on a 25 reissue in the future are probably slim. Albarn wasn’t the only producer who experienced difficulty on working with Adele on 25: Rick Rubin, Sia, OneRepublic leader Ryan Tedder, and Phil Collins were all at one point involved in writing or recording the record, but only one of Tedder’s co-writes, ‘Remedy’, wound up on the album.
And now, I present to you Phil Collins’ comments on Adele: “She’s a slippery little fish,” he told Teri White in 2014. “She got hold of me and asked if I would write with her. She gave me a piece of music to finish and at first I didn’t know if I’d failed the audition as I didn’t hear from her. Then she said, ‘No, no: I’m moving house and the baby’s taking up a lot of my time. I’m not actually doing anything at the moment.’ And now I’ve heard there’s a 29 [sic] coming out. I’m not on it, I know that.”
Oh, to be called a slippery little fish by the man who made ‘Sussudio’. It must be an honour.