Pop & Circumstance: How does Adele beat Gaga on Billboard?

Who woulda thunk it?

Adele is kicking Lady Gaga’s ass on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this week. The two singers, 22 and 25, respectively, are battling it out for that precious No. 1 slot and staying there as long as their singles will let them. Though both are considered pop stars in the world of Top 40, the girls couldn’t be more different from each other.


Lady Gaga has the name, the spectacle, the costumes, the sex. She’s proved so many times that her vocal chords are worth something, but there’s no doubt that the majority of her appeal involves the level at which she can cause jaws to drop. She’s not just an entertainer, she’s someone to follow, she’s someone to criticize and admire, to stare and to balk at. But who is Lady Gaga in real life? I’m not talking about Fuse interviews or in front of Barbara Walters. I mean on her couch, watching TV with her sister. There seems to be little evidence pre-“Just Dance” that she was ever even a regular person. I know a girl who rode the bus with “Stefani” in middle school, but do you think Lady Gaga would even admit to attending the 7th grade? Image is everything to Gags.

(That quip about the money is a lie — have you heard about Lady Gaga’s latest celeb endorsement? It’s a Polaroid product that instantly prints the photos from your smart phone, with or without the uber-hip Polaroid border in less than a minute. The price tag for the swanky “GL10?” A whopping $170, which, to be honest, I’d rather spend on a pair of tickets to the next Monster Ball.)

Adele’s appeal to the masses has absolutely nothing to do with her style, look or spectacle. In fact, she doesn’t cause much of a spectacle at all. Her stage is a simple chair with lamps, her costume a modest black dress, her hair pulled back. It’s all about the voice, baby. Even after her two Grammys in 2009, her slow and careful rise to the top with “21” was much different than the insane anticipation for Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” And yet somehow, “Rolling In The Deep” sit happily above Gaga’s efforts on the Billboard charts. So how does Adele’s soulful voice of (self-quoted) “dark bluesy gospel disco” attract so many of the same music buyers as Gaga? We’re asking you, fans. With a voice like Adele’s, and a scene like Gaga’s, we’re starting to wonder…who’s gonna scoop up all the best awards at next year’s Grammys?

For your listening pleasure: An Adele vs. Gaga mashup

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Allison Berger is a Philadelphia-based writer and a pop music columnist for Reverb. Check out more of her writing here.