In theory, the first new Adele song since her 2012 Bond theme ‘Skyfall’ shouldn’t have been able to live up to expectations. This is our first taster from ’25’, a record millions of people are desperate for and Adele’s follow-up to ’21’, the fourth best-selling album of all time. Surely ‘Hello’, which the 27-year-old first teased during last Sunday’s X Factor (October 18), would be just a little bit of a let-down. Right?
Remarkably, it’s really not. Obviously this is no radical reinvention – did anyone really expect Adele to turn into Grimes? – but ‘Hello’ hits the spot on the very first listen. It begins as an intimate piano ballad, hushed and haunted, but then just after the 60-second mark, Adele delivers an enormous chorus hook that’s destined to be wailed badly at many a drunken karaoke night this festive season. “Hello from the other side / I must have called a thousand times to tell you / I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done” she sings, full of urgency and regret. Her vocal is later flanked by female backing singers, but producer Greg Kurstin wisely resists over-egging things. Instead, he leaves Adele’s vocal to do all the work.
Adele has described ’25’ as “a make-up record”, and ‘Hello’ finds her trying to atone for a past mistake. The most devastating moment comes towards the end, when she realises that apologising means more to her than it does to the person she wronged. “I’m sorry for breaking your heart / But it don’t matter / It clearly doesn’t tear you apart anymore” she sings with just a hint of resignation.
Will ‘Hello’ become as inescapable as her previous monster hits ‘Rolling In The Deep’ and ‘Someone Like You’? Time will tell, but it says a lot that since it premiered earlier today (October 23), the only thing the internet has found to criticise is the fact Adele uses an oh-so-2002 flip-phone in the video.