Not even a televised gaffe can hurt Adele now. During the live broadcast of the Brit Awards Feb. 21, the singer frustrated that her acceptance speech was cut short defiantly threw up her middle finger. In most cases, such a gesture would inspire a backlash. The next day, however, the Brit Awards ended up offering her an apology.
And who can blame them? The 23-year-old has proved to be the music industry's most valuable asset in years. Coming off the Grammys where she scored six awards her already seven-times-platinum album, 21, had its biggest week yet, moving an astonishing 730,000 units in its 21st trip to the top of the Billboard 200; she also landed three singles in Billboard's top 10. (Both feats were firsts for a solo female artist.)
But now, as she prepares to drop 21's fourth single, the jaunty ''Rumour Has It,'' the question remains: What will Adele do next? Tour? Return to the studio? Her label had no comment on the singer's game plan. But Ryan Tedder, who produced and co-wrote ''Rumour,'' tells EW, ''I hope she just does exactly what she's doing and has always done wonderfully write about her life in the most honest way possible.''
''I think this year will be a victory lap for her,'' predicts Zach Hochkeppel, a senior VP of marketing at EMI who helped usher Norah Jones to a similar Grammy sweep in 2003. ''The album will continue to sell in a huge way, and she can basically do whatever she wants.'' Just ask the folks at the Brit Awards.