Emeli Sandé: Can the UK's Favorite Pop Star Make It In America?

How many of you have heard of Emeli Sandé? I'll give you a hint, she performed at the opening and closing ceremonies and has even been namedropped by Jay-Z.

Often described as "the Scottish Adele" Emeli Sandé is incredibly popular in the U.K., and "Read All About It" is basically 2012's answer to Adele's "Someone Like You." Sandé appears to be making waves in the U.S. but whether or not she can replicate the success of people like Adele or One Direction is something that has raised some questions and doubts.


Born in Sunderland and raised in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, Sandé actually trained as a doctor studying medicine at the University of Glasgow before quitting at her fourth year to pursue music. Sandé's breakthrough came in 2011 but she rose to greater prominence last year after performing at the opening and closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Sandé has proved to be technically brilliant as a singer/songwriter, and her style of soulful R&B music has naturally drawn comparisons to Adele.

Since the 2012 Olympics, "Read All About" It has become synonymous with the games, and Sandé even performed it at the beginning of the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year Award 2012. In a sense it has become the unofficial anthem for Team GB.

Other songs that you may have heard hitting the airwaves include "Next to Me" and "My Kind of Love."

Sandé triumphed at the Brits this year winning the top prizes for Best Female and the most coveted Best Album prize, an award that was last year won by Adele, and before that Mumford and Sons and Florence and the Machine.

Sandé's success has been considerable in the States, and she is singing the type of music American listeners will enjoy whether or not she will be as successful as Adele or One Direction.

There is the danger of comparing Sandé to Adele, because Sandé is performing the type of moody and emotional R&B that sounds similar to Adele. So a possible setback could be high expectations of American audiences for her to be better.

Adele had the power to make you cry and make you relive that horrible moment in your life when you realize that "it's over." One Direction on the other hand had the power to just make the ovaries of thousands of teenage girls explode with their feel-good and squeaky clean catchy tunes. Whilst Sandé's music is great, well-written, and generally a joy to listen to, it is lacking in the "uniqueness" and emotional gravitas that Adele's "Someone Like You" commanded.

Cameron Smith pointed out in his article Sandé's album Our Version of Events only peaked at number 28 in the U.S. (however it did reach the top five in the U.S. iTunes charts) compared to Adele's 21, which went straight to number one in the U.S.

When you compare and contrast the chart successes of both Sandé and Adele's albums Sandé's album had generally positive reviews but its performance in the charts internationally is somewhat mixed. Compare that to how 21 performed internationally and it peaked at number one in a lot more countries.

However there is something to be said for the fact that this is Sandé's first album and it has internationally still performed quite well. One Direction's debut Live while we're young did well in the States although chart performance internationally was slightly erratic although generally very good. Even Adele's debut album 19 was positively received but its chart performance internationally was even more mixed compared to Sandé's.

So it isn't an entirely bleak picture and there is the possibility that a second album will do better than the first. It isn't going to be all plainsailing, Sandé admits, as her journey to breaking America has been tough, but judging by her performance on Good Morning America, it looks like things are working out.


How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Vicky Wong

Vicky Wong is a London-based trainee news reporter with the British politics website PoliticsHome. She has interned with the Reading Post, Wokingham Times, Bracknell Forest Standard, Total Politics Magazine, and Sky News. She studied Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading and was News Editor for the University's student newspaper Spark*.

MORE FROM

Journalist Kevin Powell sues 'All Eyez on Me' filmmakers, claims they stole from his Tupac articles

More bad news for the embattled Tupac Shakur biopic.

Who won 'RuPaul's Drag Race' season 9?

A lip-sync battle tournament leads to a surprising winner.

Halsey just started a feud with Iggy Azalea

The pop singer thinks Azalea is a "fucking moron."

'Game of Thrones' author George R.R. Martin has a new TV show in the works

An early, gory novella from Martin is heading to Syfy.

The 'Will and Grace' revival will lay out the "rules" in the premiere

Series creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan are addressing that pesky finale

'Han Solo' director Ron Howard recalls his first 'Star Wars' experience

The veteran filmmaker revealed 'Star Wars' creator George Lucas was talking about it as early as 1972.

Journalist Kevin Powell sues 'All Eyez on Me' filmmakers, claims they stole from his Tupac articles

More bad news for the embattled Tupac Shakur biopic.

Who won 'RuPaul's Drag Race' season 9?

A lip-sync battle tournament leads to a surprising winner.

Halsey just started a feud with Iggy Azalea

The pop singer thinks Azalea is a "fucking moron."

'Game of Thrones' author George R.R. Martin has a new TV show in the works

An early, gory novella from Martin is heading to Syfy.

The 'Will and Grace' revival will lay out the "rules" in the premiere

Series creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan are addressing that pesky finale

'Han Solo' director Ron Howard recalls his first 'Star Wars' experience

The veteran filmmaker revealed 'Star Wars' creator George Lucas was talking about it as early as 1972.