2011 goes pop

By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  December 20, 2011


ADELE, "ROLLING IN THE DEEP" | BON IVER, "HOLOCENE" | Of course, the real chart phenom of 2011 was Adele. But this year also saw the rocketing mainstream recognition of Justin Vernon's Bon Iver, who vaulted from a modest indie star into a Grammy-nominated juggernaut of intimate soft-focus folk-weaving. Both successes can be read as desperate championing of things that are "authentic," whether in Adele's "vintage" post-Winehouse pipes or Vernon's rustic falsetto. In prior eras, both artists would have been swallowed whole by much larger titans — but in a time when older, more conservative people are the only ones left buying albums, Adele and Vernon are as close as this shattered biz gets to a sure thing.

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