Three years after releasing the moody and majestic theme to the James Bond film “Skyfall,” Adele finally returned from a personal sabbatical with a definitive comeback single and power anthem. Aptly titled “Hello,” the song combines favorable elements from hit singles “Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You” to create a grand, orchestral, and stirring sound.
Upon an initial listen, “Hello” has all the features of yet another classic Adele track: arresting lyrics despite their narrative simplicity, smooth production, and impressive vocal delivery. The song opens with Adele singing in her recognizable alto voice over a simple piano chord progression. There’s anticipation and wariness in the first “hello”; the brief silences that appear between lines mirror her inner hesitation and contemplation. As she laments a lost love, she moves fluidly through different notes and inflections.
Immaculate production—with accompanying drums and backing vocals—leaves room for Adele’s voice to cut through the instrumentation and allows the drama of the song to progress in a satisfying manner. The transition from the introduction to chorus offers the single’s only unexpected moment, as the instrumental production and vocals intensify in parallel with Adele’s despair.
The beauty of Adele’s artistry is that she lays out her emotional experiences both lyrically and musically with a stripped-down intensity unique in the pop music canon. Adele’s pining, fervor, and desperation is laid out on the table, deemed valid, and given careful attention by every part of her production. Despite the continued honesty, however, “Hello” is undeniably more of the same; an engaged, albeit safe, ballad. The success of her newest album “25”—set to release on Nov. 20—depends on her ability to mix reliance on her tried-and-true system of emotional intimacy while doing something, anything, new. Adele’s sophomore album “21” solidified her status as a successful pop star, and a return to greater experimentation across genres such as jazz and soul present in the debut album “19” could offer one way forward. While “Hello” doesn’t offer much evidence of a potential move back towards eclecticism, it also proves Adele still has the magic that has made her so ubiquitous. Given her exceptional range, vocal mastery, and record-shattering sales, she seems poised for more staggering success.
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