Review: Adele’s “25” suggests depth beyond “Hello”

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    Adele performs at the 17th NRJ Music Awards last month in Cannes, France. Her performance of “Hello” marked the second live performance since her three-year hiatus, following a taped BBC Music special. Photo courtesy of Associated Press.

    A phenomenal singer-songwriter whose accolades extend beyond Grammy Awards, Academy Awards and world records, Adele Adkins is no stranger to success. With her latest record “25” – released Nov. 20 – she creates a springboard to further recognition on the charts, the radio and at award shows around the world.

    “25” is a breath of fresh air. It’s unmistakably Adele, spotlighting her signature soulful sound we’ve grown to love. The familiar high notes heard on past hits “Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You” are present in many of her latest songs. Yet with a foot in this familiar territory, Adele ventures into styles of music foreign to previous albums. Her third studio album experiments with various electronic elements and dips lightly into folk music. These risks are a result of various influences that Adele experienced while writing “25.”

    “I was exposed to a lot of country, rockabilly and bluegrass because I was touring for such a long time,” Adele said in an interview with The Sun. “The melodies and to-the-point lyrics I have found in a lot of American styles of music is definitely something I’m going be pursuing heavily from now on.”

    A photo posted by @adele on

    Touching on topics from nostalgia to motherhood, the songs form a cohesive underlying theme: self-reflection. Each of the 11 tracks tells a distinct story, portraying a different angle of Adele’s growth as understood by Adele herself. This deep level of understanding is arguably what makes her songs such huge hits. Because her ability to translate her emotions into song is so powerful, listeners themselves begin to self-reflect too.

    In an open letter to her fans, the star shares the background of “25” and how she defines this album.

    “My last record was a break-up record and if I had to label this one, I would call it a make-up record,” Adele writes. “I’m making up with myself. Making up for lost time. Making up for everything I ever did and never did. … And I’m sorry it took so long, but you know, life happened.”

    Here is our take on four notable songs of “25.”

    “25” was met with groundbreaking success, selling 3.38 million copies in the United States in the first week alone. No artist has ever come close to this incredible feat, with the second fastest-selling album at 2.42 million for NSYNC’s “No Strings Attached,” according to Nielsen SoundScan Tracking. “25” soared to No. 1 on the iTunes album chart within seconds after its release, and by the second day, all 11 tracks individually secured spots in the Top 30s of the iTunes singles chart.

    Perhaps this achievement is due in part to Adele withholding “25” from music streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. In an industry where music streaming is growing and album sales are at an all time low, this decision may have led casual fans to purchase the album. Adele had also initially withheld her previous album, “21,” from Spotify because she wanted to limit the songs to paying subscribers.

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    “25” is Adele’s third studio album. According to an interview with British radio DJ Nick Grimshaw, Adele had scrapped an album about motherhood because it was “too boring.” “It took me a long time to focus on how I wanted to write and what I wanted to write about,” she said. Photo by Jeanette Wong.

    On Oct. 23, 2015, Adele’s first single in three years, “Hello,” was dropped world-wide and was an instant success. On Vevo, the music video generated the highest number of views in a 24-hour span (27.7 million) and was the fastest video to reach 100 million views. The single entered the Billboard chart at No. 1, with 1,112,000 digital downloads in its first week.

    Adele released her debut album, “19,” on Jan. 28, 2008 and it was nominated for numerous accolades including a Mercury Prize and the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Three years later, Adele dropped her second album, “21,” which won the 2012 Grammy Award for Album of the Year and the Brit Award for British Album of the Year.

    With “25,” it should come to no surprise if she racks up another host of awards.

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