Adele’s 21 has ruled the U.K. album charts for 10 consecutive weeks, a feat that just broke Madonna’s record for a female solo artist in Britain. (The LP hasn’t done too badly in America, either; it’s about to go platinum.) Remarkably, 21 shifted its highest 7-day tally of U.K. copies only this week, which suggests that Adele will hang on for a large enough chunk of April to outdo Bob Marley and his posthumous 13-week chart run with Legend. Another female singer is nipping at her heels, though – fellow BRIT School graduate Katy B.
Kathleen Brien was born in Peckham, a poor though ethnically diverse area of south London, and made her name as a featured guest on club hits by producers like Zinc and Geeneus—a rare prominent female voice in Britain’s dude-dominated world of underground dance music. So it’s not surprising that her debut On a Mission is indebted to such specialized subgenres as funky house or dubstep (after dub reggae) rather than Adele’s instantly recognizable, licensing-friendly brand of neo-soul.
Their public personae do have some appealing traits in common: both singers seem natural and unaffected, albeit in their own ways. Katy B even said she was “inspired” by her chart rival, though she also recently told the Daily Star tabloid: “[Adele's] more like: ‘I’ve had three boyfriends and this is about the first one and this about the second one,’ but I couldn’t do that…It’s more about the emotion or friends than just one person.” (No duets with Taylor Swift in the cards, then.) High-profile appearances on British TV give Adele a good shot at fending off her former schoolmate, but that wouldn’t make Katy B’s alternate route to stardom (or her record) any less impressive.
Which emerging U.K. starlet do you prefer, Adele or Katy B? Watch their videos and let us know in the Comments section.