Popular musicians draw inspiration from personal lives
The 2012 Grammys have come and gone, but an interest in the honoreesâ artistic inspiration remains. For many of the hottest artists, their personal lives make for songwriting gold â and sometimes the messier their lives are, the more brilliant an artistâs work becomes.
Adele took home a whopping six Grammys, including record of the year and album of the year, all of which were the result of her critically acclaimed album, 21. Her excitement was evident as she got onstage to accept each of her awards; ironically, her complete and utter ecstasy is the antithesis of her albumâs subject matter.
There is no need to sugarcoat it: Adeleâs music is downright depressing. She is haunted by terrible breakups and longs for what she cannot have. So, though millions of listeners sing along in a carefree manner, her music features some dirty laundry she clearly needed to get off her chest.
Fans need not look any further than her breakaway hits âRolling in the Deepâ and âSomeone Like Youâ â both of which made the Billboard Hot 100. A recurring line in her acclaimed, lovelorn ballad âSomeone Like Youâ goes: âIâd hoped youâd see my face and that youâd be reminded / That for me, it isnât over.â
That line is what every bitter Facebook post on Valentineâs Day was trying to say.
Breakups are awful, but Adele utilized that negative energy and spent an entire album lamenting it. Her lyrics are so melancholic that many are surprised to learn that she has a charming, humorous personality.
As indicated by her success, she is not one to sit around and sob. She harnesses her resentment to criticize past lovers, as in âRolling in the Deep,â which is about an unfaithful man in her life. In an interview with Q magazine, she said, âPeople will hear it and go, âWow, she ainât mucking around.ââ
Adele could have wallowed in self-pity, but instead she took her painful experiences and used them as fuel for her creative process. And, after a sweep at the Grammys, the results of doing so speak for themselves.
But Adele wasnât the only one at the awards show that channeled inner problems: Perhaps the most personal moment of the entire telecast belonged to Katy Perry. The usually energetic, fun-loving pop star traded in her hits from her successful sophomore album, Teenage Dream, in favor of a catchy but poignant new song, âPart of Me.â
Now, before any more speculation, it is worth noting that âPart of Meâ is an old song. It was a song Perry recorded in the Teenage Dream sessions and ended up not making the cut for the album, which was released in fall 2010. Because she is prepping for the re-release of the record in March, she and her producers reworked her new single. This song and two other unreleased tracks will appear on Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection in addition to six remixes.
But that is not the juicy part. The hot gossip surrounds Perryâs recent divorce from British actor/comedian Russell Brand. Many on Twitter seem to think that this song is Katyâs response to their split â a sort of middle finger at Brand.
But the song is most likely about her previous boyfriend, rapper and frontman of Gym Class Heroes, Travie McCoy; it can be inferred that he is also the subject of Perryâs angsty song âCircle the Drainâ from Teenage Dream.
It also turns out that âPart of Meâ leaked back in 2010, and, aside from production changes, it had two different lines of lyrics in the bridge.
The original lyrics were âYou can keep the dog / I never liked him anyway.â But Perry changed them for the songâs debut at the Grammys to say âYou can keep the diamond ring / It donât mean nothing anyway.â
And boy, did Perryâs performance pack a punch. Absent were her usual kitty cats and cotton candy. Instead, she looked like a blue-haired warrior, a sight that was further accentuated by explosive pyrotechnics. The performance was somber and ferocious, and Perry, like Adele, used her personal troubles to enhance her artistic creativity to tremendous results.
Venting is healthy and therapeutic, which is why so many artists choose to bemoan their troubles in their songs. It allows them to make peace with difficult situations, to get through them and to reach the pinnacle of creative achievement.
Nick Mindicino is a sophomore majoring in print and digital journalism. His column âIndustry Balladsâ runs Fridays.