Following a brilliantly ambiguous commercial during last week’s episode of The X Factor UK, “Hello,” Adele’s lead single from her forthcoming album 25, has finally landed–and people cannot (and should not) stop fawning over it.
Aside from joining the canon of legendary James Bond theme-song singers with “Skyfall,” Adele hasn’t graced us with new music in more than three years. So pardon us as we savor every lyric, and, more to the point, every frame of “Hello.”
In terms of music videos, Adele is clearly a champion of quality over quantity. Over the course of her previous LPs, there have been only six music videos: 19 brought us “Hometown Glory,” “Make You Feel My Love,” “Cold Shoulder,” and “Chasing Pavements,” and 21, Adele’s chart-shattering breakout, produced “Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You.” Those are some dismal numbers, people. We very well could be halfway through the music videos from 25 with “Hello”–that hurts way more than any breakup.
Adele is the queen of emotive relationship drama (Taylor Swift, I’ll get to you in a moment), but there’s never really been a love interest in her past music videos–they’ve all been beautiful in their own right but leaning more toward abstract: “Rolling in the Deep” and its IKEA-level of drinking glasses, a samurai having an epic battle for one in a room full of white powder, and someone hurling plates against the wall.
“Hello,” conversely, features a narrative structure with manifest lost love–Tristan Wilds from The Wire–and calls for a bit of acting from Adele. (We’re happy to report that she nails it.) It’s one thing to hit the heartache of the song during the video’s performance elements, but it’s those quiet moments of despair when she’s not singing–a mascara-stained tear rolling down a cheek, a wistful look of remembrance–that pull Adele closer to the raw emotions of her songs.
And on the topic of love interests, Taylor Swift, would you please step into my office? Like so many artists before you, you’ve transformed just about every stage of a relationship into anthems that speak directly to the butterflies of first love, the bumpy road after the honeymoon phase wears off, and those moments when you’re just lying on the cold, hard ground. But in your five-video tear from your album 1989 alone, there have been three love interests–all of whom fit the Abercrombie & Fitch archetype to a (fitted) tee.
To be clear, I’m not drawing conclusions about Swift’s relationship preferences or racial feelings, but it has to be said that having racial diversity in music videos is just as important as having it in film and television–not backup dancers or members of your entourage, but romantic couples. And it should definitely flow both ways, racially speaking: for example, Beyonce’s imagined tryst with that flirty cop in the video for “If I Were a Boy”:
Thankfully, artists like Adele and fellow Brit Paloma Faith are willing to push racial boundaries of music videos past the pages of an A&F catalogue.
All the stunning and breathtaking cinematic imagery in “Hello” has been lost on some people because of one admittedly distracting prop: Adele and Tristan’s flip-phones.
But I’d like to posit two theories as to what may justify the low-tech decision: A) Adele doesn’t seem to be the most tech-savvy artist out there. She admitted during an interview on Beats 1 that she doesn’t manage her own social media accounts, so one can assume she’s not that pressed about smartphones. B) Which is more dramatic to you: clicking and holding the off button on an iPhone and then swiping “Slide to power off,” or simply slamming a phone shut with one swift clasp of your hand? Thought so. Then again, match Adele’s music to any kind of phone, and you’ll catch a major case of the feels, regardless. For more proof, see: “Make You Feel My Love”:
Adele’s new album 25 is out November 20.