Did you buy your 99-cent copy of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way?

If you missed all the madness surrounding the release of the Mother Monster’s newest album, it should come as no surprise that the countdown started early. Some tracks were revealed early, with Gaga even posting small messages online explaining the inspiration behind each track.

If you’re on the Top 40 radar already, you’ve probably also heard “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele, though you might not know the exact details behind that powerhouse track. Somehow, even as Lady Gaga stole the No. 1 spot from Adele on the charts, the former stayed strong and as Gaga’s CD sales plummeted and hit a new (bad) record, Adele, though having only publicized one track, stayed afloat.

So can Adele prove that you don’t have to resort to crazy antics in order to win record-setting numbers on album charts? Can you forego the wearing of raw meat in favor of a chill-inducing set of vocal chords and a sincerity that’s hard to find?

What’s for sure is that the albums’ sales show we’re a fickle, fickle audience. Not happy with everything in music, we either fall for the tracks seeped in nostalgia (à la Gaga’s very ‘80s “Edge of Glory”) or go crazy over something completely different from what we’ve seen or heard before. Innovation is appreciated, but music’s early roots are also very much a part of the work of today’s pop stars. To any budding starlet, the formula for being famous and successful in the music world has never been as unclear as it is today.

Adele’s tracks may be jazzy and fit perfectly into the roaring ’20s assortment of late-night clubs, but “Chasing Pavements” had a very pop-like hook that pushed her onto the radio airwaves at the ripe age of 19.

Looking at the careers of both, one won’t find too many major differences. Adele came from a family not noted for musical ability but had a love for music which ended up with her attending a music school before being discovered by record label XL, while Gaga, aka Stefani Germanotta, worked her way into NY nightclubs before being taken under the wing of Akon and Interscope.

What they are proving, however, is that though musicians are likely to travel the same road to fame, the necessary means for staying in the spotlight can be vastly different and hard to pin down. What Adele definitely proves is that heavy doses of publicity and surprisingly low prices aren’t necessary for the commercial success of an album. Gaga’s assertion that the digital album was not worth more than 99 cents is admirable, but what would’ve been more admirable would have been seeing the same figures for an album that cost what Adele’s did.

What’s for sure is that Adele’s proven is that you don’t need publicity stunt of any size or form to sell a good CD. Adele is hardly known for showing more skin than clothing. With the image she’s set up, she seems to be taking music back to the days in which talent superseded a risqué image and good Auto-tuner.

Gaga has got her own talent, but Adele’s concerts are much more stripped-down and involve no amount of fake blood or complex storylines. You get an equally riveting experience from both, but it’s up to the concertgoer to decide which style makes a more lasting impact.

In the same manner that Gaga is forcing music fans to get used to eccentricity at its most creative, Adele is pushing the music industry to get less glitzy and more genuine. Though this might just be her chosen way of marketing her music and her image, any live performance by Adele proves that the power of raw vocals can still give you chills, more than fake blood can.

But that is where the music fan and the rising musician must be divided, and that is why these two women stand (figuratively) side by side on the top charts.

There will never be a clear cut path to success or fame, but in this music world in which Top 40 rules as always, and indie acts are slowly piquing the interest of fans everywhere, the answer is even murkier. For now, you can content yourself with playing Adele for the more reflective days and blasting Lady Gaga on your more carefree nights. There’s nothing wrong with having the best of both worlds.