Adele was the biggest story in music this year, breaking records left and right — namely, releasing the fastest-selling record of all time — and it only took her two months. With a North American tour and still more records to sell, the British singer is likely to have a big 2016, too. So it's no surprise that Time put her on the cover of its issue looking at "The Year Ahead." But in the magazine's cover story, Adele seemed uninterested in talking about her popularity — she's baffled by it, in fact, and thinks it has something to do with America's obsession with the royal family. The chart-topper was more keen on addressing what makes her different than other artists. The profile basically adds up to "Adele's Guide to Making It Big," so up-and-coming artists, take note. In her opinion, the reason she's done so well is her ability to embrace her sadness. "The fact that I’m not shy or embarrassed to be falling apart,” Adele told the magazine. “Everyone falls apart, I think. A lot of people try to be brave and not shed a tear. Sometimes when you know someone else feels as shit as you do, or approaches things in a certain way just like you do, it makes you feel better about yourself. Even though my music is melancholy, there’s also joy in that." She added, "I hope I do bring joy to people’s lives, and not just sadness, but I think there’s there’s a comfort in it." In regards to why so many people respond to her music, she continued, "But I honestly don’t know. If I knew, I would bottle it, and sell it to everyone else.” Even if she can't bottle it, other musicians could easily follow her lead of striving to be a "package" instead of a "brand." According to Adele, the B-word makes her "sound like a fabric softener, or a packet of crisps," and artists should have some personality. Even better if it's a good one.
"I feel like some artists — and this isn’t shading any artist, just me trying to come up with my own explanation — the bigger they get, the more horrible they get, and the more unlikable," she said. "And I don’t care if you make an amazing album — if I don’t like you, I ain’t getting your record. I don’t want you being played in my house if I think you’re a bastard.” Adele suggested artists might do well to stop caring so much about their social identity and just focus on the music, saying, "How am I supposed to write a real record if I’m waiting for half a million likes on a fucking photo? That ain’t real." That being said, Adele believes finding something outside of music that makes you happy is important, and for her, that's been motherhood. Having her baby boy, Angelo, three years ago has given her life more purpose, the singer said. “He makes me so proud of myself, and he makes me like myself so much. And I’ve always liked myself. I’ve never not liked myself. I don’t have hangups like that," she said. "But I’m so proud of myself that I made him in my belly. Cooked him in my belly and then he came out of me! This human who’s suddenly walking around and doing his own thing." Keeping that happiness to herself has also been important to her music-making process, even if it upsets her fans. “Privacy is key to being able to write a real record, whether people like it or not,” she said. “My life has changed so much, but I’ve made the realest record I can make, and it’s the real part of me." She also thinks an element of surprise keeps fans wanting more, and prevents them from becoming bored by the time your album drops. “I’m not throwing shade at anybody,” she said, “but when you have a six-month build up, don’t expect me to be there the day your album comes out, because I’m bored. It doesn’t matter how amazing it is. You put seven songs out. I’ve heard the album. I’ve heard everything you want to say about it. I’ve heard it all over radio. Don’t expect me to not lose interest before it’s even happened.” The full interview with Adele will appear in the latest issue of Time, which hits newsstands December 21.