I was beginning to wonder if Adele would ever release another studio album into the stratosphere. For a second there, it seemed like the singer / songwriter was finished with the music industry after the colossal success of her second album, “21.” Tracks like “Rolling In The Deep” and “Someone Like You” skyrocketed Adele, a then 21-year-old Brit nursing a broken heart, into international stardom. “21” topped the charts as the world’s best-selling musical release in 2011 and 2012, according to the artist’s Wikipedia page.
After the birth of her first child, though, Adele took a musical hiatus to focus on her family. It was only this past November that the artist unveiled her third album. “25,” named after the singer’s age when she wrote the album, was eagerly anticipated by Adele fanatics across the world. Music critics and fans alike wondered if the artist could possibly release an album as critically and financially successful as “21.” Of course, this is up for debate, but the singer’s record 3.38 million sales during her third album’s first week on the market certainly bode well for her prospects.
Adele released “Hello,” the first single off of “25,” on Oct. 23. Her success was instantaneous: the single’s music video, released one day prior, garnered a record 27.7 million views on YouTube during its first 24 hours alone. Everyone from the cast of “Saturday Night Live” to my own mother has mimicked the music video, imitating those unforgettable opening words and Adele’s dramatic vocal projections. The song is a tour-de-force of emotion, carrying the listener through a slew of dramatic and all-too-familiar sentiments: love, loss, regret, failure. The music video captures this roller coaster ride well, with the singer flashing back from old memories to present-day strolls in the woods. It’s a cinematic masterpiece in its own right. Think blurry light bokehs, swooping camera angles and heavy-handed cheekbone contouring.
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t an Adele enthusiast when “21” hit it big. “Rolling In The Deep” and “Someone Like You” were powerful songs, sure, but radio stations overplayed these tracks to the point of exhaustion. It’s not Adele’s fault, of course. She’s got an incredible set of pipes. But I could go another lifetime without hearing the chorus of “Someone Like You” on Z100 (or covering my ears as my family screeches along to Adele’s high notes, either.)
There’s just something about “Hello” that is so appealing and comforting, though. I can’t quite describe it — the song hits me harder than any of Adele’s older singles. “Hello” has all of the raw, real sentimentality of the singer’s previous discography, but it has a wiser, more mature element to it, too. The rest of the album follows this same trend, demonstrating the singer’s evolution as an artist and as a person.
Perhaps Adele herself said it best: when asked about her thoughts on “25,” the artist called it her “make-up record,” a perfect counterpart to her break-up record “21.”
“‘25’ is about getting to know who I’ve become without realizing,” she wrote in an open letter to her Twitter followers. “And I’m sorry it took so long but, you know, life happened.”