The power of Adele and the power of a white lie | David Mitchell

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YesYou would have to be chronically deficient in empathy not to take pity on Australian TV reporter Matt Doran. I suspect he is currently finding out how many people on the internet are suffering from this disease. This is the guy who screwed up the big Australian media interview with Adele admitting he hadn’t listened to her new album. As a result, Sony will not be releasing footage from the interview and the big exclusive deal Doran’s employer Channel Seven made with Adele’s team at an announced cost of A $ 1 million (more of £ 500,000), is ruined.

The mistake he made, he later admitted, was not noticing an email giving him preview access to the album, which at the time of the interview was not yet available to everyone. But was that really the big mistake? I accept that ideally he would have checked his email and listened, but I don’t think this omission made his situation desperate. He had done most of the interview, not to mention the album, and everything had apparently gone well. But then Adele rightly asked, “What do you think of my album?

It was the moment of truth. But now should have been the time to lie. He should have said, “I thought that was great. That’s what he would have said if he had listened to him. Whether he liked it or hated it or didn’t know what to think about it, he would have said it was great. He’s sitting there with Adele. He was selected to do his country’s only interview with Adele about her album. There’s no space for him to say it’s not great. There is probably no space for him think it’s not great. He’s a contract staff member of Team Adele’s new album, that’s awesome. Listening to him will not significantly inform his answer to the question.

Also, it’s impossible to conceive of a lie less likely to be exposed than telling Adele that he enjoyed listening to her album. She will totally believe it. I’m sure she’s afflicted with a certain degree of creative doubt, but she wouldn’t be a big star if she didn’t also think she’s pretty good at music. Tell her her album is awesome and she’ll believe you listened to it. She’s not going to go: “Ha ha! I got you! You can’t have listened to it because, if you had, you would know it’s crap! “

“But what if there are follow-up questions?” You might be thinking. OK, good point, but what if there isn’t? Adele has a tight schedule – she will have another interview two minutes later. There’s a good chance it won’t be discovered and, if it did, it still wouldn’t be any worse than it is now. Moreover, and here is the click, he had heard a song, Easy on Me. So he can say that it is his favorite! He has something to talk about! He would be fine!

I wonder if there wasn’t a slight petulance in her honesty, not directed against Adele but against her surrounding team and the heightened, self-important security that executives like to introduce into creative launches. Not having noticed the email giving him access, he could have assumed that he was not yet authorized to listen to it. This is her chance to buy all of those haughty costumes from Adele herself. – This is the ridiculous situation they put us in, Adele. You and me. They come between us. I just think it should be about the music.

But isn’t it better or worse to listen to the album than to listen to it in the wrong order? It was announced last week that in response to a request from Adele, Spotify will no longer offer a “shuffle” option when people are listening to albums. This will make it more difficult for them to listen to the songs in a different order than intended by the creators of an album. “Our art tells a story and our stories should be heard the way we intended,” she said.

I found it both intimidating and exhilarating. Intimidating because I’m a music philistine and never listened to an album properly. I sometimes have music but always doing other things at the same time. Christmas carols while decorating a Christmas tree or… well that’s it. I never sat down and listened to an entire album cover to cover, like watching a movie but without pictures or conversation. I think my eyes and my mind would wander. Is it better or worse to have a sandwich, read a book or chat than to mix the order of the tracks?

Exhilarating because, as someone involved in the creation of TV shows, it never occurred to me that there was anything you could do about the way your business is consumed. . I have sat in my living room with small groups of close friends to watch programs that I have invited them to see in which I am almost constantly on screen and, even in these circumstances where you would think that I created an overwhelming social network pressure to get people to focus on the show, they’re still chatting and missing important stuff and hopping into other rooms for snacks, while I silently bubble and resist the urge to rewind and highlight the strengths.

Of course, I ignore the mind-numbing nature of my own work, but I would still say that part of it shows that no matter how much effort and painstaking work it takes to make a TV show, viewers don’t. usually only keep half an eye on the screen. It’s only TV. If they then miss a key moment, they’ll blame the program for not making sense. I always assumed that it went with the territory of a folk art form that it was the work of the art to grab people’s attention rather than the work of the consumer to focus.

But Adele hasn’t admitted defeat on this point and why should she? She literally wants a good hearing. It’s inspiring to see how much she cares about the detail of her fans’ experience when the world is at her feet. In terms of her career, she is in a position of tremendous power, and in this age of fear, dishonesty, anger and incompetence, it’s refreshing to see power being used for good.


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