Adele. Her name alone incites hysterical excitement from the general public. Ranging from small children singing her sultry tunes in the car, to middle-aged women belting ‘Rolling in the Deep‘ at christmas karaoke parties. Somewhere in between, you’ll find me. A teenage (soon to be twenty-something) boy living in New York City – with a particular liking for meaningful, soaring pop songs.
Prefacing my sure-to-be-contested opinion on Adele’s new song – I’d like to say that I genuinely love her work. Her cover of Bob Dylan’s classic ‘Make You Feel My Love‘ breathed new life into an already-wonderful song. ‘Someone Like You‘ hit me just as hard as it did for everyone else, and ‘Turning Tables‘ floored me. I was eagerly awaiting new material from a great artist with an incredible talent. I am disappointed in what I have received.
Expecting a follow-up to 21 is absurd – there’s no doubt that her 2011 album is impossible to follow. There was too distinct a sound, too specific a subject to replicate. Adele herself in an interview with Rolling Stone has said that she wanted to make something distinctly alternate to what she has done prior to her third studio release, “25“. The lead single from this work does not prove optimistic of this concept Adele set out to achieve.
Is ‘Hello‘ a beautiful song? I suppose so. It has a gripping chorus, and her vocals are silky smooth. The lyrics in the verses, however, are chunky and misplaced. There’s something inauthentic about the feeling behind her verses – as though she’s trying to be nostalgic, without actually feeling nostalgic. I feel as though Adele is confused. She’s not sure how to depart completely from her previous album, and she doesn’t really want to either.
The video for ‘Hello’ was beautifully shot. Adele is an extremely beautiful woman, and her full features appear luscious on screen. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel as though the storyline was particularly well thought through or communicated clearly. It was a confusing message – which seems to fall in line with the muddled air of Adele’s recent public persona.
Emotional, huge ballads work for Adele and ‘Hello’ is no exception. Would this song be #1 if it didn’t come from Adele after a 3 year hiatus? Probably not. I could see this as being a demo off of “21”, not a lead promotional offering of the album following its monstrous success. I don’t get the impression that Adele is entirely satisfied or comfortable with her new material, and her recent live performance of ‘Hello’ at the NRJ Awards proves that.
Her voice didn’t truly hold throughout the song, which leads me to wonder how she plans on performing full-length concerts. To be fair, she’s had an intense vocal surgery – and I think this has had a bigger impact on her ability than she or her PR team have let on. She’s known specifically for being a powerhouse vocalist – but her recent performance showed an Adele I’m not used to seeing. A woman who doesn’t totally believe in herself. She was visibly nervous as she struggled through the song, and the choruses were particularly pitchy. Her upper register has taken a hit.
Perhaps the rocky performance can be chalked down to nerves, and perhaps ’25’ will blow everyone away. But maybe, just maybe – it might not be everything we’ve been waiting for.
[Featured image: courtesy of XL records]