Prior to watching the music video for Adele‘s highly acclaimed new song ‘Hello‘ I was expecting it to be beautiful, deep and emotional, possibly in a dark room with a piano. But it ended up being that and so much more. The video tells a story, with a haunting extended introductory scene at the beginning which brings you into the relationship the song is about to tell. It begins as echoey, eery, with no musical backdrop, just speech and a monochrome, sepia tone to the visuals.
And then Adele begins to sing, with her beautiful strong voice filled with passion and could make even the strongest hearts ache. Her lyrics bring out memories in all of us. On Nick Grimshaw‘s BBCRadio 1 breakfast show on Friday morning, Adele told stories of multiple times when fans have approached her and cried and thanked her for her music because it came at a time when they could relate the most, and it brings so much emotion. In terms of relating to Adele‘s lyrics, I believe it is partly in her sound and the passion within her vocals which draws out our deep sorrows and memories we wish we could return to.
This singing is paired with muffled sounds signifying memories slipping away. It is shot in two worlds, one where she is alone, in an empty house full of dust and echoes of the past, where her voice booms full of strength and longing. During the song, layers of sound build up to form a powerful chorus with sounds of chimes and backing singers paired with blurred background lighting in the visuals. This emanates a beautiful yet tragic story told through both the sound and the tragic echoing past love evident in the video and lyrics.
One running theme in Adele‘s video is the appearance of telephones. The old British telephone box covered with overgrowth, her references in lyrics to calling the person from her past and not getting a response, even down to the single cover. Adele‘s flip phone has caught much attention with a few calling her out on the fact that her previous album 21 was the global best-selling album of the past decade according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, and topped the charts in more than 30 countries.Twitter has taken to the critique of couldn’t Adele afford something better? Maybe a rose gold iPhone 6s with 3D touch and 4k video recording? Or maybe 200 of them? The implied reason for the phones to me seems to avoid real-life, modern day distractions and really focus on the story Adele is telling through her song and video. Her story is about her past, she describes the song herself as ‘yearning for my past’. It is full of regret of growing up, losing relationships which once created the happiest moments and not being able to return to that younger life of freedom, falling in love and wondering what life has in store for the future.
It’s not surprising how relatable Adele‘s audience find her music. The music video for ‘Hello‘ can be taken to follow many stories personal to different people. It is ambiguous and can be interpreted in many ways. The general theme can apply to any relationships, friendships or family dynamics. The memories begin and they are full of smiles, love, fun and youth. Then the flashbacks develop into sadness, misery, filled with fighting and giving up on the love that was once there. The minimalistic and repetitive wording in the chorus of the song add to this relatable feeling. The way the flashbacks change through the video into sadness mirrors ithe dynamics of a failed relationship which can resonate in most people.
Adele‘s songs are always very personal to her. Her albums have been named according to her age when producing them, and the lyrics and sound are born and shaped from her most personal relationships and emotions. ‘Hello‘ is the first track released from her new album 25, 4 years on from the record breaking release of her last album 21, 25 is set to top even the precedent set by ‘Someone Like You‘. The iTunes description for the new release could not be more accurate in recounting the new album by saying that through its release, Adele continues her reign of one of the most transcendent voices in music’.
She spoke to Zane Lowe in an interview on Beats 1 around the release of ‘Hello‘ and explained this album will probably be ‘my last age one’. In the past few years, including turning 25 and becoming a parent, Adele feels ‘there’s been a massive change in me in the last couple of years’. This change involves turning 25 being a turning point, signifying leaving behind her adolescent, silly and careless life to become a person who will not endure the same ups and downs and personality-shaping experiences that a younger person may, a person who will not change profoundly from now on. This is why Adele feels it may not be her desire to name another future album with her age, not much will change from now onwards. So instead of each album being ‘a photograph of what’s going on in my life’, she believes it may be better to go in a slightly different direction. For now however, we have ‘Hello‘ and the rest of 25 to enjoy as a snapshot into Adele‘s transition into adulthood, filled with stories we can relate to ourselves, resting on our own memories and emotions (Listen to the Full interview here).
After emotionally struggling through this music video I can honestly say that ‘Hello‘ is one of the best of this year so far. Adele herself believes it is her greatest video to date which is evident in the view count of almost 30 million in 2 days. Adele‘s return to the music spotlight was highly anticipated, and highly secret. But we’ve no doubt been satisfied by this performance of not only raw vocal talent but creativity and emotion in the story that is this music video.