Gather round, Peoplleaneous. I want to talk about Adele’s new song, “Hello.” Here’s the video for it…you may as well give it a listen before I tell you what I think about it:
Like many depressed or even just sad women in a certain age bracket, I loved Adele’s 21 album. Talk about catharsis and angst. I bled so many emotions out of my tearducts, I’m surprised I didn’t end up in the hospital recovering from dehydration and extreme heartsickness.
Adele’s voice was beautiful and fresh and haunting. Some of her songs could have been written by me (emotionally, meaningfully – but not beautifully as she). Adele broke stereotypes and records. Adele broke barriers and hearts.
But here’s where I’m uncomfortable. The whole world seems stuck with its initial impressions of Adele and her music. (Look, I realize there was an album prior to 21, but 21 is when most of us were introduced with her.)
I’ve just heard the one song off the new album 25 thus far: “Hello.” Quite frankly, I’m underwhelmed. It’s beautiful. Adele is beautiful. Her voice is beautiful. The song is sad and angsty, full of longing and heartache. But those feelings don’t connect. And I think I know why. Or at least I can hypothesize.
Adele isn’t those things anymore. Adele isn’t full of longing and heartache and angst. She’s a newlywed (well, not so much anymore…but since the sadness of 21, she is) and a new mother. Yes, spare me the “newlyweds and new moms can suffer heartache and pain as well.” I’m quite aware of that, thank you very much.
Listening to the new song, I just don’t feel it. There’s no emotional impact for me as there was with some of her earlier songs. This one is simpler and far less powerful than previous ballads. Perhaps I’m being too hard on Adele, but previous songs blew me away. This didn’t come close. And if this is the the lead single, I’m not hopeful that the rest of the album will, either.
These are the thoughts that came to me as I listened to this song (several times through): She isn’t sad anymore. I can feel her faking it. She doesn’t mean what she’s singing. Her voice is no less beautiful, but the power is gone because she doesn’t fucking mean it. Adele and her producers knew what sold last time and wanted to replicate those successes. So they put Adele in her Sad Suit, tooled around with some of her older and better songs (think “Someone Like You” and “Don’t You Remember”), and they put her back on stage to mime her old sadness at us.
Does it still beat the shit out of 83.2% of the current market she’s competing in? Certainly. I’m not saying she’s suddenly without talent. But what I am saying is that it gets under my skin when the whole fucking world – supposed serious music critics included – refuses to actually critique her work. I mean, for fucks sake, the damn song is roughly SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT CHORUS. That is unacceptable from someone we should be holding to a higher standard.
If you’ve grown and your life and perspectives have changed or shifted (which naturally could have by now), then your music should still reflect what’s inside you. If we can’t grow with you, then you’ll find new fans that do.
This isn’t Katy Perry spinning another club song or some boy band telling girls they’re pretty just the way they are, wash, rinse, repeat on every single track. This is someone who told stories and moved us with her heart. Don’t put on a fucking sad suit and start wash, rinse, repeating that shit. It’s beneath you, and it’s an insult to those of us who are paying attention.
Come on, man. We can do better than that.
On another note, I’ll be watching that video at least once more for that nice piece of eye candy. And I’m not talking about Adele. Hello.