ADELE - HELLO

By Ellena Schuster-Farrell

The video for Adele's new single, "Hello" opens on the singer (in black and white, naturally) walking into a long-uninhabited house, pulling dusty sheets off furniture and staring significantly at different corners of dark rooms.  You can almost hear director Xavier Dolan stage-whispering "IT’S SYMBOLIC, INNIT", as he piles on the imagery to signal Adele's return after a three year hiatus. That's right; it’s been three years since the queen of ballads supplied us with a new soundtrack to those lonely nights of burning love letters and wrecking pillowcases with mascara. But fear not, heartbreak hunters, with a metaphor that smacks you right in the face, Adele is back in the proverbial house. At last, you can pick those scissors back up and resume cutting your ex's head out of the Santorini 2010 photos while wailing along to songs about closure.

Now, after two albums, you might be wondering how Adele has any tales of woe left in her. How many times can one woman have her heart broken without suffering some sort of seizure? To be perfectly honest, after listening to this track, I can’t help but feel like she’s scraping the barrel. “Hello” is samey, tired, and lacking the raw emotion of tracks from 19 and 21: it sounds as though Adele has gone rifling through her internal filing cabinet of lost loves and come up short.

The first problem for me was that the song started with the word “Hello”, and wasn’t immediately followed by “is it me you’re looking for?” My inner Lionel Richie loyalist was peeved to say the least, but I decided to put these feelings aside and give the north Londoner a chance. Unfortunately, she failed to win me over. While her vocals are flawless as ever, drifting sweetly through each verse and soaring with every refrain, the track doesn’t go anywhere. This is probably because there’s no room to build on the gusto of the first chorus: the song ramps up to eleven far too soon, making it impossible to build up any sense of expectation or drama. Despite the addition of breathy backing vocals, ambient synths and even a cheeky orchestral bell in the final part of the song, it still manages to fall flat. I felt like I’d gone to a fireworks display, only to see the same rocket whizz through the air and pop prettily in the night sky over and over again. While I desperately wanted the track to build to something, there was no wow factor.

Of course, at the time of writing, the video has already had over 50 million views on YouTube, so clearly there are quite a few people who disagree with me. But while I’ve been surrounded by rave reviews of this single by friends, journalists and celebrities alike, I worry this may be a case of The Emperor’s New Clothes – perhaps Adele has reached such stratospheric heights that she can now release any old shit and be met with critical acclaim.