This isn’t “Rolling in the Deep”. On purpose.
That was my first initial reaction to Adele’s new song. “Hello’s” somber piano introduction is a stark difference compared to the marching guitar and drums of “Rolling in the Deep”. As such, at first, I wasn’t really into the song. I think it’s because I’ve gotten tired of the melodramatic style of Sam Smith, the closest equivalent to Adele in recent years. However, it didn’t take long for me to remember what it was about Adele that resonated more than artists like Sam Smith. Where Sam Smith often comes across as weak in his vulnerability, Adele is strong. That’s not to say that Adele is never vulnerable; she is. She just revels and learns from her vulnerability rather than drown in it.
“Hello” starts slowly and it isn’t the most inviting song, especially for a first single. It does come across as a melodramatic schlock at first. However, Adele eventually takes command of the song, bellowing out its powerful chorus “Hello from the other side, I must’ve called a thousand times, to tell you I’m sorry for breaking your heart, but it don’t matter, it clearly doesn’t tear you apart, anymore”. It’s a strong statement and a change from the themes of her previous album. She no longer feels victimized or is weighed down by someone that needs to be overcome. She is now just as much to blame and she needs to make amends. However, it’s not just to do right by whom she’s hurt, but for herself. In that way, it’s actually a bit selfish and perhaps that’s why it has haunted her more than the other person.
This is why this is a good song. It’s an evolution for Adele. While it’s sonically not that different from her previous work, it most certainly is lyrically. It builds on what she expressed on 21. She has grown as an artist and as a person and that can be heard on “Hello”. Musically, the piano grows until it ultimately submits to the power that is Adele’s voice. It then layers behind her voice while still being powerful enough to complement the song’s message. The background vocals are a nice touch too and makes sure there’s some melody to decorate the song. Overall, I like the song and while I don’t think it has the effect “Rolling in the Deep’ had, I’m excited to see what her new album has to offer.