What voice type is Adele? Adele is a mezzo-soprano; the lowest note she can hit is B2, the highest is D6. She has a 3-octave vocal range, which is considered average and not really special. However, Adele’s vocal style sets her apart from the rest.
With numerous awards from different prestigious institutions of music and entertainment, Adele needs no introduction. Seriously, you would have to be living in a cave for at least a decade if you don’t know her. Adele has got one of the most powerful voices in contemporary music. Her songs resonate with millions of fans around the world because they are relatable. Her songs are emotive and immersive look at heartbreak, love, letting go, and moving on.
Adele’s voice may not be perfect, but it’s authentic; she does not sound like anyone else. With that said, let’s have a look at Adele’s voice —the type, characteristics, and how it is imperfectly perfect. And of course, what has happened to her voice recently.
What Voice Type is Adele? The Answer
Adele is a Mezzo-Soprano
While Adele has been mistakenly classified as contralto due to her chesty low notes, the absence of androgynous vocal character (neither masculine nor feminine) says she is otherwise.
Adele’s vocal range is B2 – E5 – Bb5 (D6), spanning 3 octaves, which is very common for singers. Her range puts her into the mezzo-soprano category, or more specifically, lyric mezzo-soprano: bright, flexible, and exuberant with a dark and solid timbre and medium weight.
Being a mezzo-soprano means her songs are mostly within a suitable range for listeners to sing along. Maybe this is many tend to sing along whenever her song is playing.
Here’s a great video showing Adele’s range:
Adele’s vocal quality can be described as rich, deep, raspy, and womanly with notable vocal control evident in her powerful choruses. Her vocal creak lends an emotive quality to her voice; she has a tonal quality that is enough to carry the melody without much embellishment from instruments.
One of Adele’s noteworthy technical feats is balancing chest and head voice by sustaining the pitch while progressively increasing the volume. She also has a knack for manipulating timbre and color to match the emotions in the lyrics she sings.
Her voice has been described as “…not a crystal stream. It is a gust of wind that’s picked up some grit.” This is a really great way of imagining Adele as a singer; from a musical perspective, her voice is great, but not exactly flawless. And that’s okay. A saying goes that something doesn’t have to be perfect to be powerful.
In some live performances, there were instances when the singer would sing in a different tune; there were moments when she suddenly got overwhelmed with feelings while singing, causing her voice to go unsteady. There were also times when her voice is on the edge of popping, but that’s Adele for you. While she did attend the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology, she said in an interview that she is mostly self-taught.
One of her vocal fragilities is her difficulty transitioning between the low, middle, and high sections of the songs. Again, that’s Adele for you: raw talent with no keen desire for perfection. She’s all for continuous development, but for perfection, not really.
Her Greatest Vocal Showcases
Maybe we can say that Adele’s strongest artistry lies in her ability to tell a story through beautiful songs that will surely tug at anyone’s heartstrings. Well, there is no doubt that only Adele can tell a story in such a way that other singers cannot just replicate. Maybe it’s her expressive vocal profile, or maybe the way she injects emotions into each line she sings. Or maybe, it’s both. Here are 3 songs that best showcase this:
● Chasing Pavements
Hailed by many music critics as one of Adele’s best songs, Chasing Pavements ponders on the pain and hopelessness of staying in a relationship that is basically dead. The beauty in this song is that there are no fancy vocal tricks, just a straight-up bluesy-pop in the usual emotive, Adele fashion. She won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for this song in the 2009 Grammy Awards.
● Someone Like You
One of Adele’s biggest chart-topping songs, Someone Like You features her voice with just a piano and some backup vocals. The somber song started low and soft; her breathy, melodic, and raspy voice gradually picking up the intensity before reverting to the melancholic tone toward the end. This song reaped the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance.
● Rolling in the Deep
If there is one Adele trademark song, that would be Rolling in the Deep. Maybe it’s safe to say that this song catapulted the singer to superstardom. It has Adele’s mark all over the song: the simmering vocals at the beginning, the gradual buildup of momentum as her raw and edgy head voice drive into the chorus—her peak vocal performance—and the dark yet soulful bridge.
Adele delivered her exact emotion through heart-wrenching lyrics. The song is a vengeful reply to being told her life will be nothing if she didn’t stay in the relationship. It’s an emotional vomit after expecting that someone will have your back but it ended up not being the case. This song bagged 3 Grammy Awards in 2012: Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Short Form Music Video.
Is Adele Losing Her Voice?
For years, Adele had come against vocal cord issues many times; in 2017 she had to cancel the last two shows of her world tour due to vocal damage. Six years before that, she also had to cancel some tour dates due to throat hemorrhage.
She had throat microsurgery to remove the benign polyps and was advised to take a break and allow her throat to heal, causing her to take a brief hiatus from singing. Most of her vocal cord troubles stem from a grueling tour schedule, which means her vocal cords are simply too tired and overused to function normally.
Right now, Adele’s throat is back in good health, and the singer is back in full swing. She had just released her album in November 2021 called “30”, with her comeback single Easy on Me enjoying countless streams on different platforms. She was supposed to perform in Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace on January 21, but she had to cancel the show. This time, it’s not about the vocal cord issue: half of her team and crew contracted COVID and it would be impossible to do the show without them. The canceled show is currently being rescheduled.
Of Music and Emotions: Final Thoughts
Adele is a talent—to say otherwise would be blasphemy. But it would be a lot easier to appreciate Adele’s artistry if we look at it how she looks at it: musical expression rather than technical perfection.
While some artists are guided more by methods and mechanics, Adele is guided by her emotions and sentiments. The resulting music is one that is relatable for listeners looking for solace, diversion, or emotional release. This is a testament that it’s not always about inimitable vocal prowess or wicked talent in musical instruments. Sometimes, it is also about the artists’ ability to transcend beyond the harmonics and aim for the soul.
Adele has been regarded as a phenomenon; a “once in a generation artist”. Whatever that means, and even without such fancy labels, the numerous successes in the industry have already sealed Adele’s fate as one of the most dynamic singers of the century.
Joyce Ann graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies at New Era University. She especially enjoyed her journalism class and was nominated for Photojournalist of the Year. Joyce Anne loves music; she is a self-taught piano player. When she's not writing (or baking or watching documentaries), she's probably playing songs on the piano, mostly by ear.