Before she was famous: Watch Adele perform in rare 2008 video

Adele

Image Credit: Lauren Dukoff

The distance between Adele’s lovely, competent debut 19 and her chart-ruling, music-business-buoying sophomore effort 21 was only two short years. But really, the Adele that we’re currently enjoying (especially the Adele tearing the walls down with “Rolling in the Deep” night after night) is light-years removed from the Adele who first tried to win our hearts a few years back.

That point was driven home when Billboard recently resurrected a fascinating piece of video. It’s Adele performing “Chasing Pavements,” the Grammy-winning single from her first album, in a stripped-down, unplugged environment as part of a performance series for the industry mag’s website. Give it a spin after the jump.

Her unmissable voice has obviously always been there, but what’s jarring about that performance is the then-teenage Adele’s almost complete lack of confidence. She seems to want to disappear into herself, and her delivery seems slightly perfunctory. As anyone who has caught Adele live in the past few months knows, she is an exceptionally dynamic performer whose ease and energy at the microphone has profoundly contributed to her success on the road, on the radio, and at the cash register.

What do you think? Is there a big difference between the Adele of two years ago and the Adele of today? And don’t you think “Chasing Pavements” should have been as big a hit as “Rolling in the Deep”? Let loose your thoughts in the comments below.

Read more on EW.com:
Adele takes over Eminem’s spot as the artist with the best-selling album of 2011
Adele, Katy Perry help music sales go up for the first time in seven years
Adele reschedules canceled tour dates, will be back on the road in August


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  • Wynter

    She still has a little bit of something similar to stage fright. If you look at the end of her performance of “Someone Like You” at the Brit Awards, she comes across as a little uncomfortable during the piano outro.

    Personally, I think this makes her more endearing. She’s not jaded. She’s not at the point where she looks at a crowd and thinks, “Oh yeah, you guys will love me. Because it’s me” (even though that is completely true). She is slightly nervous and awkward except for when she’s singing, and then she just gets lost in her song.

    • ST

      I agree with Wynter, she has said that she still struggles with stage fright so I think that’s still there, she’s just learned not to show it as much (or get more lost in her performance so she doesn’t think about it). Either way, she’s a winner!

      • Victoria

        What Wynter and ST said.

    • ruth

      Wynter and ST nailed it.
      What I find interesting is how her look has evolved – the voice was already there – since this was filmed. The glamorous, vintage couture wearing, false eyelash bearing, perfectly coiffed Adele of 2011 is light years away from the fresh faced, rumpled looking teen of 2008. That’s not surprising – she has “people” now. What is surprising and completely refreshing, as others here have noted, is that underneath the polish Adele is so obviously still the same girl we see here.

  • Yer mom

    oooh…chills…

  • Amy

    What I first noticed was how unpolished she looks. It is a distinct contrast as to how she looks now.

  • abadstroller

    Gal’s got pipes, that’s for sure. This early performance makes me appreciate her even more. You can hear the raw talent and the tentative desire. It’s kind of bittersweet: The shyness, the anticipation of and trepidation for what may come, the exquisite soulful voice coming from such a young as-yet unpolished performer. Remarkable.

  • derp

    She was the musical guest on SNL in 2008. Hardly an unknown.

    • ger

      This was recorded 4 months before her SNL appearance.

  • the world

    despite her talent, i wonder if she would have even won idol, got talent or any other show? viewers are too quick to dismiss unpolished acts!

    • abadstroller

      No criticism of Adele at all–because her talent is clearly obvious–but she wouldn’t win any of the TV talent shows because she doesn’t look like audience and judges’ expectations of what a “winner” should look like. That’s why I gave up on those shows pretty much from the beginning. I believe that those shows would have battered her for being not being generically pretty and skinny and precociously polished. Look at how Idol handled Jennifer Hudson and Amber Riley (Mercedes on “Glee”). Revenge was sweet for Hudson (Academy and Grammy awards) and Riley (successful series winning Emmy and Golden Globes awards–also witness Amber sass-singing Simon Cowell on “Britain’s Got Talent”). Adele is doing just FINE without Idol and their ilk!

  • Kana

    That was incredible. I don’t think she would win Idol or the X Factor but she could have won The Voice.

    • Jan

      Yep.

  • hc

    I was lucky enough to have seen Adele at the Roxy in 2008, San Diego HOB and Hollywood Bowl in 2009. She has evolved mightily from that first performance to be sure. But remember, you are talking four years difference (from 19 at this taping, to now 23). She has enough confidence at 23 to begin the transformation into one of the greatest singers of this generation. And while this happens, I’m hoping that she will never lose that down to earth, honest, hilarious personality that is such a part of her appeal.

  • Annlala

    its hard to believe, it was only two years

  • zelda fitzgerald

    it’s just another way of performing when yr really shy – she has a new way now. have you ever seen hope sandovaal perform live? or cat power?

  • Ben

    Beautiful performance. Nothing tentative or perfunctory about it. Excellent.

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    • Marty

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